There is an old bit about reading that I like. It goes,
“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.
Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
I like to read. I grew up reading. I started reading in high school and read though (and continue reading through) all the great writers: George Orwell, Kurt Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard, Lee Child…the list is a long one. Essentially, I will find a writer I like and read everything he or she ever wrote. Last year I read 36 books. That’s a book read every ten days. (My goal is a book a week).
As an aside, libraries are one of our greatest public institutions.
But enough about me. This blog post is about words. Words are essential to reading.
The words we use in real estate
Real estate has a special vocabulary, two types actually. The first type is the legal and financial words most people only encounter when they buy and sell real estate. I want to talk about the second type — the words you see in real estate listings.
The words we choose
With so many words to choose from, it is a bit of surprise that many words that you see in real estate adverting are so overused. One of my personal pet peeves is, is it possible to describe a kitchen (or sometime a whole house) without using the word immaculate? Maybe? Maybe not. I agree that a clean house is much much easier to sell than a dirty house. Words like ‘clean’ and ‘spotless’ just don’t seem strong enough to convey clean. We expect clean. Maybe we have to overpromise with ‘immaculate’ to lodge that idea in the minds of potential buyers.
Phasers on stun
The same goes for ‘stunning’ when it comes to describing views. While ‘breathtaking’ might be almost as good, for some reason, we almost always default to ‘stunning’. In this case I think it is simply a lack of imagination.
What means what
Words have meaning and inside words have clues to hidden meanings. Unlike the clean/immaculate combo where we have to embellish a word to show its true meaning, some words try to hide the true meaning through a little misdirection.
For small, instead of using tiny or little we will use quaint, cozy or intimate. Small means small whereas cozy connotes warmth and comfort.
When we see ‘unique’ it means weird, unusual at best.
‘Gritty’ attempts to tone down a neighbourhood’s roughness. You will need true grit and courage to endure a neighbourhood like this.
An ‘affordable’ home will be a builder basic with vinyl floors and unfinished basement or a house that needs lots of work — a handyman special.
Updated is the new old
Rustic means old.
A home with ‘character’ means out of style
Refurbished means “tarted up” but still nearly original underneath it all
New means newish. Newish means old, at least ten year old. And ‘updated’ is even weaker than new. When was it updated? The best listing have dates and facts and warranties with their updates.
Pay me now or pay me later
There is an invisible line you move down with houses that need work:
Needs a little TLC —> has potential —> prefect investment property —> handyman special —> as is!
Lots of natural light
Sunny or sun filled is better than good light.
BIG and nice
Spacious and charming are overused, but then large and likeable don’r really cut it, do they?
A final thought on words
I like words. I listen for words. Vagueness is our enemy. We want clarity.
I had some clients that were looking for a house for a long time (and they never did decide). I would ask them how they felt about the house we were viewing and they would say “interesting”. Interesting is not a feeling. It is an intellectual word that implies thoughtfulness, or needing more thought. I pointed out after a while that I couldn’t really help them with the word ‘interesting’. It had no emotion attached to it. They started using ‘intriguing’ instead.