When you work in real estate, you learn to see the world with rose tinted glasses.

There’s no such thing as an unsalable property, only homes with ‘limitless potential’. It makes sense. The job of a real estate agent is to sell properties, so the most effective way of doing so is to ensure that potential buyers see a property in its best possible light. 

However, this sales tactic can often get out of hand and leave potential buyers wondering if the agent is even living in the same reality. Seeing the best in something is one thing, but completely fabricating favourable features that don’t exist is another. As ridiculous as it might seem, there’s little that can be done about it, since as long as there are lemons to sell, agents will need to turn them into lemonade. Basically, no matter how horrible a house might be, if it’s on the market, then it needs to be sold one way or another.

Having said that, when you come across a listing that highlights a property as being ‘a unique opportunity’ with ‘unlimited possibilities’, only to find a dilapidated ramshackle dump, the whole situation borders on the absurd.

So it’s only fair that you, the buyer, get a heads up before having to the navigate the minefield that is interpreting property advertisements. So without further ado, here are 7 commonly used phrases and their actual hidden meanings.  

Renovator’s Dream

You might have heard this one before. It’s a classic when it comes to talking up houses that are in need of some serious TLC. In basic terms, it essentially means that the property has issues. Structural issues, cosmetic issues, abandonment issues – you name it. Unless you’re a skilled construction worker or you’re willing to knock down the property the second you buy it, I would stay far away from any kind of ‘renovator’s dream’.

Close Access to Freeways

This might sound super convenient but it virtually translates to, ‘if you love the sound of traffic at all hours of the day and night, you’ll love this place!’. Any property that has good access to a freeway means that it is also a stone’s throw away from it. This might not be the worst thing in the world if the freeway in question has an adequate sound barrier though. So if you decide to go for an inspection, just keep an ear out for that unmistakable symphony of cars and trucks.

Vintage or Retro

Sounds fun right? Groovy, even. Well that depends… if you think sea-foam green bathtubs and pastel pink kitchen cupboards are fun then you’re going to have an absolute blast. Vintage or Retro is usually code for ‘extremely outdated decor’, which for some people can actually be rather charming. In terms of value however, antiquated interiors are generally not highly sought after within the property market, so if you’re looking for something that has a high resale value, this might not be your best bet.  

Cozy, Charming, Cute

Nawww, doesn’t that sounds lovely? What a darling home that must be. Yes, so adorable that you can’t even fit all of your belongings in there. So cute that you’ll be living alone forever because there’s no room for a family in there. Cozy means small. This isn’t always a bad thing, but if you want any kind of breathing room then you might want to look elsewhere.


Let’s not beat around the bush here. Unique is a synonym for ‘weird’. This house is going to be weird. The exterior could be painted in leopard print, the interior could have a hardcore Harry Potter theme, you just don’t know until you get there. Hey, who am I to judge? If you want to spend your life savings on a crazy house you should do just that! If not, well the open inspection would make for an entertaining day out at the very least. 

The Backyard is Your Canvas

This basically translates to, ‘the backyard is nothing but a giant hunk of dirt.’ You’ll be lucky if you find some grass growing back there because it’s unlikely that anything remotely green has ever been planted. Landscaping? Don’t make me laugh. The closest thing to life in this ‘garden’ is probably going to be gravel.


Wow, this must mean the home is incredibly clean right? Absolutely, but why? Is it because the owners are exceptionally anal and decided to hire professional cleaners to go over the property before putting it up for sale? Not likely. This usually means that the home has not been lived in for a very long time now, likely due to the fact that the owners can’t sell it for one reason or another. So if you go to check this place out, keep your eyes open for any potential concerns and if you can’t find anything on the surface, tee up a time for one of our highly experienced building inspectors to assess the situation for you. You won’t be sorry you did.

House listing lingo is all part of the game at the end of the day, so if you learn the tricks early on, you’ve got a much better chance of coming out a winner.