Top Ten: Over-Used Real Estate Buzz-Words

I’ve touched on this in the past, but now it’s really getting on my nerves.

I’m just sick and tired of seeing the same adjectives used over and over to describe real estate!

It just feels as if the collective Realtors in this city wrote all their MLS descriptions without a thesaurus in sight…


So I wrote a post back in May called “Bad Marketing Techniques” which included a small section about “over-used buzz-words.”  Since then, I have really started to take note of all these terrible, meaningless buzz-words, and it’s really getting tired.

I’ve always been a huge proponent of this thing called “marketing,” (pronounced mahr-keht-ing) whereby you actually attempt to add some value to your job of selling the product or service for your clients…

There are a million-and-one terrible marketing techniques out there, but today I’d like to narrow that list to just stupid buzz-words.

What I mean by “stupid buzz-word” is an adjective or phrase that has zero meaning, and adds no value.

For example, have you ever heard somebody refer to a food as being “tasty?”  What the hell does that mean?  Doesn’t all food have a taste of some sort?  I guess water has no taste, although I’ve heard people say “This beer tastes like water,” so I must be wrong.  If by “tasty” the person really means “good tasting,” then say that!

Here are my Top-Ten most hated real estate buzz-words:

10.  Upgraded Finishes.
Are the finishes in this condominium upgraded?  Oh, I see they are!  They’ve included granite countertops instead of laminate, and slate flooring instead of cheap tile.  Okay, that’s fine.  But over the last few years, the term “upgraded finishes” has lost all meaning.  Because when you allow yourself to upgrade from NOTHING, then everything is upgraded.  I went into a condo last week where they advertised “upgraded finishes” in the kitchen.  The counters were laminate, the floor was cheap tile, and the cabinets were low-end.  I asked what was “upgraded,” and the Realtor replied, “Well, the appliances were optional, so it’s an upgrade.”  Uh-huh.  That’s like saying that a car with no doors is actually standard fare, and the inclusion of four open-type-thingies on hinges are “upgrades.”

9. Spacious.
When you think of “spacious,” what comes to mind?  Do you want to be able to swing a golf club, or a proverbial dead-cat?  I’ve seen the term “spacious” used with three-storey houses, 3000 square foot condos, and of course, 505 square foot condos.  How can a condo that is one-sixth the size of another condo be considered “spacious?”  Is it more “spacious” with furniture, or without?  Doesn’t matter, does it?  My hall-closet is “spacious” since I have “space” to put my “stuff.”

8. Sun-Drenched.
People also say the unit is “filled with light.”  Perhaps that’s because it’s 2:30 in the afternoon.  Show me how much light “fills” this condo around midnight with no moon.  If you face south, I suppose you’re prone to more light than a unit facing north.  But can’t you just say “South-facing” and allow us to draw the inference?  When “floor-to-ceiling windows” were introduced, people naturally began to talk about all the natural light that “filled” the room, but now people just assume if they have windows at all, then their unit is “sun-drenched.”

7. Well-Maintained.
This is a nice way of saying “crappy.”  If this house was better than bottom-feeding, we’d say it was “lovely,” or “stunning.”  But when there is simply nothing good to say about a house, we say that it is “well-maintained,” and often add “by the same owner for fifty-eight years.”  Yes, wash all you want, but that old person smell is not going away on its own!  By “well-maintained” we mean that there is knob-and-tube wiring, lead-piping, an oil tank, shag carpet, and fluorescent lighting in the dropped kitchen ceiling, but the house does have four walls and a roof, thus it has clearly been “well maintained” in a sense that it’s still there…

6. Custom-Home.
This is one of those watered-down phrases that loses all meaning after a while.  At the onset, a “custom home” was one that was built specifically for the owners, to specific…….specifications.  Yikes, now I lost my thesaurus!  A “custom home” is one that was built with pride after much thought, planning, and analysis of layouts, features, finishes, and exactly what the owners themselves wanted.  Now, a “custom home” means a “cookie cutter home,” since every stone-faced, stucco-sided house in North Toronto is called a “custom home.”

5. Diamond-in-the-Rough.
This is how I know I’m being hosed.  This house is so crappy, that they actually admit it’s crappy, and then try to confuse you into thinking it’s not.  If it were a diamond in the rough, then the neighborhood itself would be “rough” and the house itself would be the “diamond,” meaning it’s a great house in a crummy area.  But it’s actually a crappy house, so think of it as a diamond that is chipped, of poor quality to begin with, and maybe even a cubic-zirconium…

4. Cozy.
So you’re saying it’s really, really small?  Okay, just checking…

3. Prestigious.
I understand that living on Post Road is “prestigious,” but how can you call 35 Marriner Terrace “prestigious?”  What the heck is prestigious about living in a cookie-cutter condo with 500+ units that is surrounded by other buildings?  You can get an entry-level condo for less than $300K, so which barrier to entry makes this place so damn “prestigious?”  Oh, I guess the people who buy in here are simply in a “prestigious” club of morons that got bad advice from their agents and bought in one of the worst buildings in the city…

2. Dream Home.
I’m so tired of people telling me what and where my dream home is.  The reality is, a dream is something un-real, is it not?  Isn’t your “dream home” something that you probably will never achieve?  My “dream home” is probably going to cost a few million dollars and will have a full driving range in the backyard, a Moosehead-dispenser in every room, and many more ridiculous features that are simply too stupid to name.  Even if my dream home is simply a 4-bedroom house in North Toronto, how can a run-down, $269,900 house on Ossington Ave be marketed as a “dream-home?”  Well, I guess to the homeless guy living in the gutter out front of the Ossington house, this could be considered his “dream home”…

1. Trendy.
What is not trendy these days?  Running over puppies in your car?  True, but how long until that does become trendy?  I think of a “trend” as something likened to a “fad” or a “phase,” so doesn’t a “trendy area” refer to a spot that is cool now but will be un-cool very soon?  Show me one area in the city right now that isn’t referred to as “trendy.”  You could market a back-alleyway as “trendy” right now and I’m sure you’d find some hippies that are all about saving the earth by living in dumpsters for the greater good.  Now that is trendy!

Bonus: Stainless Steel.
This isn’t really a “buzz-word,” but rather a feature that I think has far too much influence.  Trends and fashions come and go, and while the “pretty grey dishwasher” might be a necessity these days, I think it’s only a few years until this is on it’s way out.  Years from now we’ll all look back and laugh about the time we just had to have a thick steel door in the kitchen just in case bank-robbers mistook the fridge for a vault.  Don’t agree?  Please see below for a couple examples of fads that have died out…




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  1. cheryl says:

    how about “product” as in ‘theres not much product on the market’. It just sounds pretentious. I’m buying a house. “there arent many houses on the market”.

  2. Krupo says:

    Good calls, tough stainless steel has been on the “ups” for something like 10-15 years, by my reckoning.

    Perhaps it’s getting closer to “down and out” by the day no?

    Wonder what’ll be next? Crazy funky coloured appliances? We haven’t seen that lately, eh?