Decoding Real Estate Ads: The Second Edition!

Back by popular demand, I bring you the second edition of Decoding Real Estate Ads!

Every once in a while we need to poke a little fun at ourselves and our professions. 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 interesting new “buzz words” or “catch phrases” designed to grab the attention of a potential buyer or renter. Below are six new additions to our existing glossary of terms in honor of our industry’s creative writers.

Usable Square Footage: New Yorkers are experts at using square footage.  That is a fact.  So, what is this mysteriousable square footageus “unusable” square footage you are referring to? Is it behind the drywall, under the fridge, at the back of the linen closet?  Someone please tell me so we can put our heads together and find a way to use it for crying out loud!

Used in a sentence: “Here’s the good news Milton; this one bedroom is 900 square feet!  The bad news is that only 200 of it is usable square footage.  The rest of it is permanently covered in police tape and traffic cones.”

One-of-a-Kind: As the saying goes, imitation is the best form of flattery. This is certainly true when it comes to residential building architecture and construction. Therefore, the fact that all subsequent architects decided NOT to duplicate this particular layout may be a cause for concern. And, contrary to popular belief, right angles can actually be a beneficial feature given the overwhelmingly consistent shapes of say furniture, appliances and doors.

Used in a sentence: “Darling, this apartment is truly one-of-a-kind!  We can finally use that gift certificate to Squircles R’ Us!”

Queen-Sized: Translation: This bedroom cannot fit a king-sized bed.  In fact, don’t bother bringing your bedsibedroom queen sizedde tables when you move in because if even one of them could fit, guess what …the bedroom would be advertised as “KING-SIZED”!

Used in a sentence: The bedroom is queen-sized.  The living room is bathroom-sized.  The bathroom is sink-sized.  The sink is a bucket.”

Small and Funky (taken from an actual ad): Translation – You can broil a chicken, use the toilet and open the door for guests all from your foyer.  Also, it smells like a combination of fried bologna and cigarettes.  Welcome home.

Used in a sentence: “Mason and Isabella, your new studio is so cute!  I love what you’ve done with it…it’s…small and funky…are you cooking venison?”

Well-Kept: When you cannot get away with the word “updated”, “renovated” or “newish”, you go for the next best thing, “well-kept”.  In my experience, this means that at one time or another someone used a broom (and perhaps even a mop) to remove the top layer of sediment from whatever airborne substance permeates New York City air.

Used in a sentence: “I’m not going to lie, the stove is ancient, the fridge is on the fritz and the AC leaking Freon…but the lobby seems well-kept. Where do I sign!?”

Reflective Light: If you live in the northern hemisphere, South-facing is ideal for direct sunlight throughout the day.  Unfortunately, a simple Google search finds that only one of the four sides of a building face South.  Those living on the East side of the building have the privilege of waking up to a burning sensation in their retinas, and those on the West side live in darkness until the sun sets against the backdrop of Jersey City.  But, if you face North, you get neither morning nor evening sunlight, hence you receive “reflective light”. Reflective light is the sunlight bouncing off the building next door and into your otherwise cave-like dwelling.  It is your secondhand source of Vitamin D reflective lightand only escape from a deep dark depression in December.  If you are lucky the apartment to the North is made of mirrors or a large magnifying glass.  Heck, if you live in a “small and funky” apartment, you might even be able to save a few bucks on cooking gas!

Used in a sentence: “Yes, there is a 48-story highrise going up across the street which will completely block your sweeping views of the Hudson, Midtown and the George Washington Bridge.  On the bright side, think of all of the reflective light you’ll get!”

Feel free to brush up on our the rest of our Glossary of Terms by reading the first edition at and thank you for the read!

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