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Translating Realtor to English: A Dictionary

Updated on December 9, 2012
Time To Buy a New House
Time To Buy a New House

Translating Realtor to English: A Dictionary

Now that the housing market is picking up a bit, people are looking again for new homes. As a public service this hub offers that following list of realtor-speak terms translated into English, so you can decipher what’s really being said. In addition, this list may be helpful for people starting out in the real estate business, so they can “back-translate” their property descriptions into the approved terminology.

Bonus room: 1. Any odd shaped upstairs room without a closet. (Eastern US), a nook, stair landing or loft (q.v.) (Southwestern US)

Bring all offers: Make us a lowball offer that we can reject

Butler’s pantry: Small area with any (or possibly all) of these; cabinets, sink, small refrigerator, located only steps away from a kitchen already containing these items.

Contemporary: ugly

Contractor’s special: doesn’t meet code

Convenient: 1. zoned commercial 2. freeway overpass in backyard

Cozy: small

Doll’s house: very, very small; the size of an actual dollhouse

Established neighborhood: deteriorating neighborhood

Family friendly, friendly: noisy

Fixer-upper: falling-downer

Historical: really old

Horses allowed/welcome: grounds covered in horse poop

Intimate: really small

Investor’s special: slum property

Loft: useless space, also nook, office, bonus room (Southwestern US), a large stair landing (southwestern US)

Minutes from: Not close, an unspecified number, as in Rockville is minutes from Chicago.

Motivated seller: Meaningless phrase, used to supposedly distinguish this seller from the usual seller who is completely uninterested in selling their house.

Office: extra large closet

Ratskellar/rathskellar: retrofitted bar area in basement (Midwest US) (may be obsolete)

Pantry: small closet in kitchen, sometimes called a larder

Perfect for children/large family: So beat up even your kids couldn’t do any more damage.

Perfect for first-time homebuyers: small, cheap house

Perfect for pets: covered in dander and other pet byproducts

Rustic: no plumbing

Solar heating: cold, also heat pump

Space Machine: charmless barn

Unique: bizarre

Well-maintained: old


Realtor: Well-maintained doll’s house with unique decorating located in a family friendly, convenient neighborhood. Office off kitchen. Perfect for first time homebuyers!

English: Old, very, very small house with bizarre decorating located in a noisy, zoned-commercial neighborhood. Extra large closet off kitchen. Small, cheap house!

Realtor: Contemporary space machine in an established neighborhood. Perfect for children /large family! Solar heating, motivated seller. Bring all offers!

English: Ugly, charmless barn in a deteriorating neighborhood. So beat up even your kids couldn’t do any more damage! Cold, seller wants to sell house. Make us a lowball offer that we can reject!

Try it yourself!

If you have any more good examples of classic real estate phrases, feel free to leave them in the comments below.


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