real life

"Not to be missed!" An expert shares all the tricks hiding in online property ads.

We all know that advertising is a game of buzz-words and jargon, of sugar-coating the facts and luring us in so we buy on emotion, rather than fact.  As you’re scoping out the listings, looking for a property to purchase, how can you de-code the lingo and sort the dud properties from the quality investments?

To save you from turning up to open inspections that will only disappoint due to deceptive online descriptions, I’ve put together a list of the most commonly used adjectives in real estate, to help you translate.

What does it really mean when a real estate agent says…

Last 2 left – We’ve managed to flog all the good apartments and we’d really like to get rid of these two, so we can move on to another project but, unfortunately, they’re the rubbish ones nobody wants to buy!

Renovator’s delight, unlimited potential, has great potential, original condition, blank canvas – These are all versions of the same thing. Translation:  – It’s a wreck, with nothing delightful about it whatsoever. Factor in extra funds required for ripping out the kitchen and bathroom, repainting, and tackling the floors before deciding it’s a bargain.

In need of a little TLC – This sounds like a pretty honest upfront disclosure, but its meaning ranges from: “the place needs a lick of paint” to “it needs a complete rebuild”, usually it’s closer to the latter.

LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud team lay down some rules to bring out the ‘clean house person’ within us all. Post continues after audio.


Perfect starter home – It’s tiny. You may need to leave some of your stuff in your parents’ garage or hire a storage unit, but hey, it’s a start!

Be surprised!  ­– The house is really ugly from the outside!

Quaint/cosy/comfortable/intimate – All these expressions suggest that it’s tiny, but on the plus side, cramped living space also means it’ll be cheap to heat in winter! 

real estate jargon
"Be surprised!  ­– The house is really ugly from the outside! (Image: Getty)

Near transport, within walking distance – At first glance this is a positive. But keep in mind that if it’s too close, it could be somewhere noisy (next to a train line, or a busy road), or potentially dangerous if you have young kids. It can also be a term used to sell a home with no off-street parking, casually glossing over that fact in favour of mentioning the “excellent transport links”.


Charming – Old. Will remind you of your dearly departed great-aunt who smelled faintly of mothballs and used to give you boiled lollies when you visited.

Original/vintage/charming – Old and still has some of the original fixtures and fittings in place which are unlikely to be in good condition – if they are, or have been restored, it will be mentioned as a key selling point.

Offers considered/Keen vendors/Reduced price – Struggling to sell, possibly because it was overpriced when first listed. You could swoop in with an offer and grab yourself a bargain.

Practical – Not in good condition, not pretty or luxurious or modern… but it has four walls and a roof!

Not to be missed – Owner may be having trouble selling, which you could use to your advantage.  Sometimes used to describe a genuine opportunity to buy a property in a tightly-held area, but if that’s the case, they’ll mention it in the ad.

 Occupying a prime location – Forget about a quiet life, this property is either smack bang in the middle of a shopping strip, right next to a train line, or on a busy main road.

Freshly updated – The seller may be “flipping” the property, so it could be overpriced compared to a similar home you could renovate yourself.


Low maintenance garden – sounds attractive if you like concrete, paving or pebbles!

Original alfresco entertainment area Cobweb-ridden back porch. Can be fixed easily though.

Double bedroom – It is just a normal sized bedroom, but it sounds so much better!

"Not to be missed – Owner may be having trouble selling, which you could use to your advantage." (Image: Getty)

Boasting European style appliances – There is nothing like a continental reference in the advertising copy to add gravitas to the description. If it is combined with “stone benchtop” and “gourmet kitchen” it usually indicates a newer property and might provide genuine value. They won’t be Miele though, otherwise the advert would say so!


Not so upmarket for the “European-style laundry”! In large parts of Europe, it means a washing machine in the kitchen! In Australia, it usually indicates the washing machine is hidden away in a cupboard which may not seem great, but it would be a dream to most Europeans.

Builder’s own home Built with lots of concrete and beams stolen from other building sites. I actually bought my home from an owner builder. It is way over engineered! However it is mighty solid and sturdy.

Here are a few very original advertising expressions aimed at attracting attention:

Strippers wanted house is badly in need of renovation e.g. stripping walls and painting.

Old Lady looking for love – An early 20th century house that has never been renovated.

Stairway to heaven (or to the moon) Refers to a multi storey house on an elevated block - with no lift.

Real estate agents are always thinking up new ways to entice buyers and perhaps their creativity should, on occasion, be admired!!

Philippe Brach, CEO Multifocus Properties and Finance, is an experienced property investment specialist, finance broker and author of 'Creating Property Wealth in any Market'. To find out how Philippe and his team can help you with your property investment goals visit or call 1300 266 350.