Decoding Real Estate Ads: A Helpful Glossary of Terms

Every once in a while we need to poke a little fun at ourselves and our industry. This is especially true in stressful world of New York City real estate. Agents often act as Copywriter, Editor, and Designer for their own advertisements, resulting in extremely creative descriptions and interesting new “buzz words” or “catch phrases” designed to catch the eye of a potential buyer or renter. Below is a glossary of terms and definitions poking some much needed fun at our industry’s creative writers.

Original Floors: How did the real estate community fool us into thinking this is a good thing?  Don’t people want new floors?  I mean, I love a good antique chair.  I can even appreciate one of those wooden Pier 1 wash buckets purposefully designed to look weather worn and damaged.  But my floors?!  That’s like driving a Rolls Royce on four bald tires on purpose!  wood floors blog

Used in a sentence:  “Honey! Did you see the floors?  At first I thought they were sinking beneath my feet and might be dangerous, but the broker told me they were ORIGINAL!  Let’s stop asking questions and take it!”

Spacious Layout: Translation – Needs a few more walls.  Many people make the mistake that this term refers to massive size of the apartment, but pay close attention to the full statement.  The claim is not that the apartment is spacious.  No.  The layout is spacious.  It is a subtle but important difference. Maybe the floorplan was printed on over-sized 00X0X_bfsST6UYeu4_600x450paper. The sister to “Spacious Layout” of course is “Open Layout”. They are basically the same except for the fact that the open layout is not spacious.  It is just open.  My 5’x5’x7′ storage unit has an open layout by the way.

Used in a sentence: “I am not saying I won’t consider it Bill, but the spacious layout of this ‘loft studio’ is somewhat interrupted by the tree-house ladder in the middle of the living room, wouldn’t you agree?”

Private Bedrooms: As opposed to the public bedrooms you find at – you know – a brothel or urgent care clinic.  You know real estate in New York City has gone off the rails when having a private bedroom becomes a selling point.

Used in a sentence:  “This beautiful and airy four bedroom squat loft features all of the conveniences of a traditional four bedroom, minus the private bedrooms.”

Efficient: Well let’s just take this one literally. Efficient means achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.  Welcome home.

Used in a sentence: “It’s a tough choice mom.  At the end of the day I guess I just have to weigh the efficiency of a hot plate against the practicality of cooking dinner.”

Winter Water Viebare treew: Translation – there is an over-sized tree with a spacious layout right outside your window blocking your view of pretty much anything for eight months of the year.  But, good news! When everything outside dies due to freezing rain and subzero wind chills, guess what – you’ll have a sliver view of the East River peeking out from behind the abandoned shipyard!

Used in a sentence: “I would love to meet you for coffee Tom, but a) walking four avenues to the subway in a sub-zero wind chill takes a lot out of me, and b) I only have two months left to enjoy the fantastic winter water view from my bathroom!  I’ll catch up with you in April.”

Bring Your Architect: When this gem is used in an ad, it is an indication that not only are the floors original, but the last owner passed on the opportunity to upgrade the kitbring your architectchen.

Used in a sentence: “This place is so messed up, we don’t think your imagination will be able to handle it. Bring your architect. In fact, have them bring their imagination too. You’ll need all the help you can get!”

Stunning: It is amazing how many apartments in NYC are Stunning! When it comes to this term, think Taser.  The sheer brilliance of the apartment delivers a strong electrical current to your body which disrupts voluntary control of muscles causing neuromuscular incapacitation until you are able to cope with how amazing the apartment is.

Used in a sentence: “The view of the exposed brick building across the street is stunning.”

Upgraded (a.k.a. Updated): Not renovated… definitely not renovated.  But not original either!  It is somewhere in-between.  upgraded kitchen

Used in a sentence:  “My husband originally intended to renovate our kitchen but decided to upgrade it instead by taking off the cabinet doors and replacing the faucet head on the sink.”

Over-Sized: One might assume that whatever they are describing with this adjective is far bigger than one would typically expect.  In other words, there is simply too much size.  Unfortunately for you, it is an unwritten rule that all size comparisons are only relative to the other features of the apartment.  The windows are over-sized because the ceilings are only 7 feet high; the bedroom is over-sized because the living room is about half the size of a standard loveseat; the bathroom is over-sized compared to the unexplainable  half-tub / stall shower.

Used in a sentence:  “Ummm, Is that combination hot plate/convection oven smaller than usual?  No, of course not sir! The countertop is just over-sized.”

“Everything You Need Is Right Around The Corner”: Really?!  That’s amazing.  Just take a few moments to think of everything you need.  Now, put all of that stuff around the corner.  I don’t know what your list looks like, but I am pretty sure I don’t want to live there anymore.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Decoding Real Estate Ads: A Helpful Glossary of Terms when I define such doozies as Reflective Light, Pin Drop Quiet, and Located in the Ever-Blurring Neighborhood Lines of Brooklyn.


My name is Eirik Davey-Gislason and I work in real estate in New York City. This blog is an opportunity for me to educate everyone who has a horror story or is on the verge of one. By sharing, preparing and advising my audience on what to expect, what is normal, what is right, and what is wrong, I hope to do my part to expose the wrong-doers and shape the future of this dysfunctional thing we call NYC Real Estate.

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