How to decode a property advertisement

OPen Home paper


Real estate agents are many things to many people, but their first and foremost role is in sales. This means they’re committed to focusing on a property’s finest features, sometimes using optimistic descriptions that don’t always match up to reality.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how some property advertisements seem to border on hilarious.

A coastal Queensland property, recently listed for almost $900,000, offered ‘a rare opportunity’ with ‘endless possibilities’. ‘The property holds very strong bones and really is the perfect blank canvas’, according to the advertisement.

Translation: Perhaps it’s liveable, perhaps not. Maybe the owners made it part of the way through renovations before running out of money. Whatever the case, this property probably needs some love, that is work, before anyone would want to live in it.

“Property buyers are bombarded with all sorts of marketing lingo, and often agents use artfully crafted phrases to catch your attention”, explains buyer’s agent, Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists, who spends his days decoding ads for his clients and matching them with suitable properties.

He offers a tongue-in-cheek guide to the colourful words that real estate agents regularly use. “If you see these terms in any real estate marketing piece,” he says, “you’ll know what they really mean.”

  • ‘Cute’, ‘cozy’ or ‘adorable’ = small, tiny and cramped.
  • ‘Handyman special’ = better have lots of time, money and an awesome set of tools.
  • ‘The backyard is your canvas’ = there’s nothing but dirt back there.
  • ‘Easy access to freeways’ = hope you enjoy the sound of 18-wheelers at 2am.
  • ‘This home is spotless’ = no one has lived in it for six months.
  • ‘Retro’ = shag carpet, linoleum and lime green appliances included.
  • ‘Motivated sellers’ = overpriced and/or mortgagee’s foreclosure is looming.
  • ‘Unique’ or ‘one of a kind’ = owner is a creative painter. Think magenta, chartreuse, polka dots.

If you are thinking about buying, ensure you get some smart mortgage advice before you hit the streets to find your perfect property.


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Cairns Mortgage Broker – Jason Thomson is a Mortgage Adviser and Finance Broker based in Cairns with clients all around Australia. Over 100 client reviews featured on his website prove that Jason is a trusted industry professional, facilitating great outcomes for his clients. Using his wealth of experience in financial services, he thrives on delivering superior service. Jason is very approachable and is always looking for new clients to help in the often confusing world of finance and property. Offering a no fee service, you’ve got nothing to lose by having an obligation free chat with Jason today.