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How to Decode Home Listings

When it comes to searching through home listings, what you see isn't always what you get. It isn't uncommon to find what seems to be a dream home listing only to find out how misleading it was after visiting the property in person. The good news is, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy by learning what to look out for when searching for a new home. Here are some tips on how to decode home listings for yourself. 



Look Closely at the Photographs 

The most important part of any home listing is the photographs. So if the ad says something like, “Contact us for photographs,” chances are the property isn't worth your time to visit in person. 

If there are photographs of the property, there should be multiple angles of each room in the house. If a picture is missing of a certain feature of the house, there's probably a good reason for it – because they don't want you to see it! 

Carefully inspecting the photographs in each home listing can save you a lot of time and future disappointment when searching for your dream home. 


Pay Attention to the Language Used

You should always be cautious of properties with listings that sound too good to be true. When a seller is trying to get rid of a lackluster home, they will try to entice would-be buyers with clever adjectives to hide the real issues while over-selling the good points. 

Here are some examples of common word trickery home sellers and real estate agents will use to dress up a less-than-desirable property: 

Recently Updated - Potential buyers tend to get excited when they see this term, but the truth is – it usually just means a couple of new coats of paint and maybe a new carpet if you're lucky. If you see this selling point, simply ask what has been “recently updated." 

Cozy – Even though this word paints a mental picture of something comfortable and cute, it typically just means small in real estate talk. 

Vintage – You might be looking for something with classic charm, but vintage could also mean big problems ahead. Older properties usually require much more maintenance than their newer counterparts, so just make sure you ask a lot of questions before committing to visit the house in person. 

Unique – This is a word commonly tossed around in the real estate world, and because of that, it has lost some of its meaning. While you might be searching for a one-of-a-kind home, your definition of unique might be different from another person's idea of what this word means. When looking at the listing, ask yourself why they have chosen to use this adjective to describe the property. 


Learn the Abbreviations and Acronyms 

When scanning through a home listing, some of it might not make sense because of the acronyms and abbreviations used by realtors to quickly summarize their listings. 

This short-hand way of describing a property can be great for saving space and time – but that means you have to learn it - or at least have a guide nearby – to decode certain listings. 

Here are some of the most common acronyms and abbreviations used in real estate listings: 

AEK: All electric kitchen
CH: Central Heat
CTH: Cathedral Ceiling 
D/D: Dishwasher and garbage disposal
DOM: Number of days the property has been on the market
DK: Deck
F/F - BSMT: Fully finished basement
FP: Fireplace
Gar: Garage
HDW: Hardwood floors.
IGSP: In-Ground Sprinkler 
KIT: Kitchen
LA: Living area
LR: Living room
Potl: Potential
POA: Prop Owners Association 
SD/W: Storm Doors and Windows
WIC: Walk-in closet 
YB: Year built 

Click here for a full list of abbreviations and acronyms that are commonly used in home listings. 


The Bottom Line 

A good real estate listing will evoke a clear and accurate mental picture of what you can expect to see at the property when you visit in person. If you have any questions or if you're suspicious of a listing, make sure you educate yourself before proceeding any further. Knowing what to look for and how to decode home listings is what will allow you to find the perfect match in no time at all.

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