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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Estate Agent speak: A dictionary
Holbeck Hall falling into the sea
Would suit DIY enthusiast
An estate agent in Somerset has been criticised for being too honest in his description of properties.

BBC News Online offers him a helpful Estate Agents glossary, in order to put him back on the straight and narrow (or deceptively bendy and wide, if you prefer.)

Benefits From: Contains a feature you may expect to be the bare minimum for the extraordinary price you are paying.
Example: "Benefits from roof, floors, walls".

Bijou: Would suit contortionist with growth hormone deficiency.

Borders: Loose term signifying that a property is sufficiently close to a desirable area to ensure the burglars who live next door to you will travel to work.
Example: "Fidel Castro's house is situated in the highly desirable Bahamas Borders area".

Spaghetti Junction
How convenient
Characterful: A neat disguise for old and falling down.

Charming: Pokey

Compact: See Bijou, then divide by two.

Convenient For: A deceptive term with two possible definitions depending on the object of the phrase:
Eg "Convenient For A40" means your garden doubles as the hard shoulder
Whereas "Convenient For local amenities" means you can run to the shops. If you are Paula Radcliffe.

Four bedrooms: Three bedrooms and a cupboard.

In Need of Modernisation: In need of demolition.

Iron Age hut
Period charm, some modernisation needed
Internal Viewing Recommended: Looks awful on the outside.

Mature Garden: The local AZ marks your garden as Terra Incognita.

Original Features: Water tank still contains cholera bacterium.

Priced to Sell: Please, oh go on please...

Studio: You can wash the dishes, watch the telly, and answer the front door without getting up from the toilet.

How would you describe your own home? Send us your views using the form below.

Have your say

"Colourful history" - scene of acts of unspeakable violence leading to permanent and awful haunting.
Eoin Sanders, UK

From an agent's description of a flat I was selling: "A range of kitchen cupboards." They were all different.
Jeremy Skelton, UK

"Popular area" - the police make regular visits.
Karen, UK

When viewing my current flat I commented to the estate agent that it was a genuine five minutes to the train station, as claimed. He replied "next time I'll have to say it's three."
Using maximum verbiage to tell you absolutely nothing

Phil, UK
"A rare opportunity to purchase this well appointed family home situated in a convenient location for shops and schools." ie using maximum verbiage to tell you absolutely nothing you need to know about its size, layout, number of rooms, parking facilities or any other characteristic which could engage your interest.
phil, UK

The flat is now on sale. With the same agent.
Sanjay Samani, UK

Househunting in London in the 1970s the most useful and entertaining blurbs came from an estate agent called, I think, Roy Brooks based in Chelsea. The prose was purple, lavishly exaggerated all the least attractive features and was immensely cheering. The description of a basement in Clapham as 'suitable only for troglodytes and mushroom growers' was a breath of fresh air then. However did he ever actually sell anything?
Fran Beaton, UK

"Conservation area" - you can't hang out your washing or chose the colour of your own curtains
"Friendly village atmosphere" - nothing to do after 4.00 and your neighbours will refuse to speak to you as a newcomer
"Stunning kitchen" - awful kitchen
"Flexible accommodation" - no plumbing or electrics as yet.
Colm Nugent, London

Glimpses of sea

Andrew, New Zealand
"Glimpses of sea" - Sea can be seen from either standing on top of the wardrobe or climbing on the roof.
Andrew, New Zealand

"Garden flat" - damp basement.
Tim Craig, UK

In London estate agent speak, if there is a really awful area right next to a nicer area, no problem! Just give it the same name as the nicer area but put "West" in front of it. For example, West Hendon, West Hampstead, West Kensington. Only a matter of time before Balham is "West Chelsea"! Exceptions: West End, Westminster.
Alex, Italy

I could see the cooker from the loo through the hole in the bathroom floor

Jo, UK
Kitchen laundry-chute - meant I could see the cooker from the loo through the hole in the bathroom floor.
Jo, UK

"Charming cottage" = small, decrepit, terrace house.
Chris C, UK

A new one I saw recently for a tiny studio flat: "Compact design with much flair and attention to detail." Translated this means "Recently re-painted tiny studio flat."
Paul Harman, London, UK

Halifax Estate Agencies used this wonderful phrase a couple of years ago - "multi-vehicular block-pavior driveway parking facility"... meaning large drive.
Alan Reid, UK

"Would benefit from double glazing"- without it sleep will become a goal.
James, UK

'Sought-after location' means be prepared to pay far more than seems remotely fair for the property. Or someone else will buy the place and turn it into bedsits.
Paul De St Paer, UK

Buy locks for the windows

Ollie J, UK
"Up and coming area" - don't go out at night with anything more than a fiver in your wallet, buy locks for the windows. "Strong community spirit" - the only way to combat the drive by shootings and drug dealers in the area.
Ollie J, UK

I remember seeing a picture in an estate agent's window of a very shabby house surrounded by scaffolding, in a garden of waist-high weeds. It was labelled "for the pioneer!"
John Dablin, UK

Undergoing renovation: Not even built yet.
Stuart, England

Cheap, densely populated

Richard Moffat, UK
"Popular area" - cheap, densely populated, cramped. Also as recently experienced "closely situated to schools". This means "actually physically attached". So close, in fact, that you could actually throw your children over the wall as the bell rings"
Richard Moffat, UK

Our first purchase had "atmosphere" - the vendor had nicked the light bulbs, was "exciting" - you didn't know which floor boards you dare step on, is "one minute's walk from the sea" - cold, and has "friendly neighbours" - they all 'appear' and drink/eat you out of house and home every time you light the BBQ.
Chris P, UK

One property described as "being in need of cosmetic improvement", had actually been set on fire during the recent race riots!
Simon Flory, Yorkshire

What we saw was a full glazed door with half the glass missing!

Adrian, UK
One house we were sent to view was described as having a "half-glazed" door between the dining and sitting rooms. What we saw was a full glazed door with half the glass missing!
Adrian, UK

"Handy for London" - not handy for London.
Peter, UK

Police telephone box
Unique features?
The house I have just moved in to has a spare location for the new Doctor Who series shortly to be filmed - "A full sized public police telphone box painted on the inside of the bedroom door".
James Black, Scotland

I recently had my house priced up by the local estate agent who used the term "it has a positive attitude". I asked him what this meant and he replied, "Hey... it's the sort of house that you can buy and know things will get done in life." Classic!!
Michael Dupree, UK

"Conveniently situated near the local airport" - switch the Christmas tree lights off after 5pm, unless you want the landing-gear in your fireplace.
Tim H, UK

It's sad to see that the agents are becoming more like spin doctors

Sam Huang, UK
I am still a student so I wouldn't know much about buying and selling houses. However, the real estate agents, like many professions today, are bogged down by terminologies, which can deceive people. It's sad to see that the agents are becoming more like spin doctors.
Sam Huang, UK

Character flat: Expect a colony of mice, woodlice dropping from the rafters, holes in the floor and a leaking roof.
Glyn, UK

Popular village location - no shops within three miles and the only pub is about to go out of business
Ann Oates, UK

Our new house is incredibly spacious with large rooms and lots of them. Weirdly the details didn't mention this, although I guess if you are good at guestimating you could have worked it out from the room sizes in feet. But unlike other "6ft max by 10ft max" kitchens, ours is actually a rectangle, and doesn't have cupboards/narrow gaps to pad the measurements!
Steve, UK

My house benefits from 'exposed beams', that is to say the ceiling plaster came down when the upstairs bath overflowed.
Paulo Uccello, UK

"Would suit DIY enthusiast" - needs a LOT of work done to make it habitable.
"Light and airy" - large, draughty windows.
"Friendly neighbours" - nosy neighbours.
Geoff M, UK

Estate agent Julian Bending
"I would prefer saying a house is 'wonderfully grubby' rather than 'needing improvement'"
See also:

10 Oct 02 | England
27 Apr 02 | Business
11 Jun 02 | Business
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