What Do Real Estate Listings REALLY Mean? (Allow Us to Translate for You)

Within any profession, there's lingo. What's interesting about real estate is that every potential buyer is subject to that lingo. Real estate listings are full of impressive and familiar-sounding bits and bites that, to the trained ear, have a completely different meaning. "Charming" as code for anything old, tiny, or really quirky, for instance. "Awaiting possibilities," meaning this one needs a lot of work.

We asked some local Los Angeles-area realtors for their favorite code words — and what they really mean.

"Quaint" "Too small to live in, unless you are into tiny houses."

"Private""On a busy street, but there's a privacy fence or hedge around the house — and maybe a water feature to drown out the noise."

"Up-and-coming neighborhood" "Lock your doors."

"Original""Needs work."

"Fixer""POS."

"Room to grow""The house is ugly but has a lot of space."

"Undiscovered/hidden neighborhood" — "Nothing but Subway and Domino's delivery."

"Tenant occupied""It's going to cost you $20,000 and two months just to move in."

[Anything more than four bedrooms and under $1,000,000 in Los Angeles]"House is a massive clusterfuck of illegal additions and hodgepodge of poorly designed rooms."

"Bow Truss ceiling" (constantly misspelled "Bow Trust") — "This space could be hipster but will cost a fortune to remodel."

"Fixer""Underpriced so that it will have so many offers it will close overpriced."

"As-is""Don't try and sue the owner for the problems you'll find after you close escrow as they already have an attorney on retainer."

"Bonus area""Unpermitted basement or closet about to implode."

"Perfect 1031 Exchange Property""Overpriced, and you should just pay the capital gains taxes."

"Add Value Deal""Tenants are paying super low rent and nothing you say or do is going to change this"

"Drought tolerant""There's a lot of decomposed granite and gravel, with no green in sight."

"Room for an RV""Shitty neighborhood where people park old boats in their driveway and leave them there to rust."

"Ask agent for disclosure"Foundation is in shambles and the roof doesn't work.

"Property delivered with tenants in place""Tenant is an asshole that you don't want to inherit."

"Foothills""Shitty area at the base of any hills … where most of the riffraff hang out."

"Just reduced!""Inflexible seller who thinks their property is worth more than it is and will spend the whole escrow thinking they are undersold."

"Just reduced""Angry seller."

"Priced to sell""Ramshackle. Not worth the price."

"Bonus room""No permits."

"Converted garage""No permits."

"Opportunity awaits""Major fixer."

"Peek-a-boo view" — "If you put on your stilettos and stand on the roof, you might be able to see something as long as the sun is in the right place and the trees have been trimmed recently."

Special thanks to Abigail Dotson of hearthLA and Clint Lukens of Clint Lukens Realty for their wit and wisdom.


Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.