Main Content

Real Estate Terms Used in Listing Descriptions


magnifying glass on top of real estate listing to show real estate terms You have probably encountered some of the specialized real estate terms used in property descriptions. Look at any listing anywhere in the country and you will realize that they all include certain phrases that buyers may or may not be familiar with.  If you’re looking for a new home in Montecito or anywhere across the country, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what’s being said about a home you might be interested in seeing. Before you get excited about any home, you need to read between the lines. Many listings may sound impressive, but some of the familiar-sounding terms may have a not-so-obvious meaning.

Let’s start by defining the word “listing.” A listing is an agreement between a real estate broker and a homeowner that allows the broker to market and arrange for the sale of the owner’s home. The word “listing” is also used to refer to the for-sale home itself. Here are some frequently used code words buyers might find in a listing, along with their true meaning:

    A real estate agent or sales associate who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®
  • Charming
    Watch out for this one since it can often be used in place of old, tiny, or really quirky. Consider the context it’s used in. If the description goes on to qualify the room, space, amenity or accouterment, then “charming” might be used in a positive way. For example, “a charming pond” might turn out to be one step above a mudhole. On the other hand, “a charming pond, replete with beautiful koi, lilypads and frequent visits by beautiful butterflies” might be a winner.
  • Awaiting possibilities
    This one likely means (a.) the home needs a lot of work, or (b.) it, and/or its yard offers abundant versatility.
  • Quaint
    Unless you’re looking for a tiny, tired home, this means the place is probably too small or dilapidated to live in.
  • Private
    Make sure this doesn’t refer to a home that is located on a busy street, with just a hedge around the house and some type of water feature to drown out the noise.
  • Up-and-coming neighborhood
    Could be code for a dangerous neighborhood where you’d need to install major security. Of course, it could mean exactly what it says and offer the possibility of a good investment.
  • Original
    This could be another code word for the home needs work. (See “quaint” above.)
  • Fixer
    This one makes it fairly obvious that the home needs lots of work.
  • Room to grow
    A listing that includes these three words could mean the home is not the prettiest but does offer lots of space. The inference here is “potential.”
  • Undiscovered/hidden neighborhood 
    There’s a reason – good or bad — that this neighborhood is undiscovered.
  • Tenant occupied
    Listings like this will cost the current or new owner money and time to get the tenants out.
  • Bow Truss ceiling, constantly misspelled “Bow Trust”
    Another feature that brings with it a myriad of possibilities. If constructed correctly and properly finished, it can be beautiful. On the other hand, it might cost a significant amount to remodel or remove.
  • As-is 
    Take it or leave it, but don’t try to sue the owner for problems after you close escrow because the seller probably has their own attorney on retainer.
  • Bonus area 
    Possibly an unpermitted room that has been added, but usually a versatile, nondescript space.
  • Perfect 1031 Exchange Property 
    Consider paying the capital gains taxes because, otherwise, you’ll most likely pay more for the property than it is worth
  • Grmet kit 
    Gourmet kitchen
  • Ask agent for disclosure 
    Questionable roof and/or foundation
  • Just reduced
    This could mean a good deal because the seller needs a quick turnaround, the property was overpriced, to begin with, or the home has some sort of problem that’s scaring potential buyers.  
  • Priced to sell 
    See “Just reduced” above.
  • Converted garage 
    An extra room in the house that may, or may not have been built without permits.
  • Opportunity awaits 
    Probably refers to a major fixer upper.
  • Peek-a-boo view 
    You might be able to see a slither of a view someplace on the property, but you will have to work to enjoy it.
  • 4B/2B
    Four bedrooms and two bathrooms. “Bedroom” usually means a sleeping area with a window and a closet, while a “full bathroom” is a room with a toilet, a sink, and a bathtub. Then, there is a “three-quarter bathroom” which has a toilet, a sink and a shower, and a “half bathroom” or powder room that only has a toilet and a sink.
  • CMA
    A report that shows prices of homes comparable to a subject home and that were recently sold, are currently on the market or were on the market but not sold within the listing period
  • Closing Costs 
    All of the miscellaneous expenses paid by the buyer and the seller when the real estate deal closes. They include the brokerage commission, mortgage-related fees, escrow or attorney’s settlement charges, transfer taxes, recording fees, and title insurance. Closing costs are generally paid through escrow.
  • Contingency 
    A provision of an agreement that keeps the agreement from being fully legally binding until a certain condition is met.
  • Dk
  • Expansion pot’l: 
    You’ll find extra space on the lot or the possibility of adding a room or even an upper level; all subject to local zoning and permit restrictions
  • Fab pentrm
    A room on top of the house but under the roof that offers great views
  • FDR
    Formal dining room.
  • Fixture
    Anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property including wall-to-wall carpeting, light fixtures, window coverings and landscaping
  • Frplc, fplc, FP
    There’s at least one fireplace 
  • Gar
  • Gard
    Garden on the premises
  • HDW, HWF, Hdwd 
    Short for hardwood floors
  • In-law pot’l
    Space to add a separate apartment, subject to local zoning and permit restrictions
  • MLS
    Multiple Listing Service is an organization that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members, who are real estate brokers

I do my best to keep my listing descriptions honest by using easy-to-interpret real estate terms so buyers know exactly what they’re reading. If you’re considering buying a new home in any of Santa Barbara’s upscale neighborhoods, you need to familiarize yourself with these commonly used real estate terms. As a REALTOR®, I’d be happy to help you find the perfect home sweet home. If you’re interested in selling in the area, I’d be happy to add your property to my portfolio of fine homes and estates. Give me a call at +1 805.886.9378 or email me at


Please follow and like us:
Follow by Email
Visit Us
Follow Me
Trigger Page Preview Option Popup
Page Preview Save

Enjoying Cristal's blog & listings? Please spread the word :)