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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Estate Agent speak: A dictionary
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.
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.
Compact: See Bijou, then divide by two.
Convenient For: A deceptive term with two possible definitions depending on the object of the phrase:
Four bedrooms: Three bedrooms and a cupboard.
In Need of Modernisation: In need of demolition.
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.
"Colourful history" - scene of acts of unspeakable violence leading to permanent and awful haunting.
From an agent's description of a flat I was selling: "A range of kitchen cupboards." They were all different.
"Popular area" - the police make regular visits.
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."
The flat is now on sale. With the same agent.
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?
"Conservation area" - you can't hang out your washing or chose the colour of your own curtains
Andrew, New Zealand
"Garden flat" - damp basement.
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.
"Charming cottage" = small, decrepit, terrace house.
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."
Halifax Estate Agencies used this wonderful phrase a couple of years ago - "multi-vehicular block-pavior driveway parking facility"... meaning large drive.
"Would benefit from double glazing"- without it sleep will become a goal.
'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.
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!"
Undergoing renovation: Not even built yet.
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.
One property described as "being in need of cosmetic improvement", had actually been set on fire during the recent race riots!
"Handy for London" - not handy for London.
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!!
"Conveniently situated near the local airport" - switch the Christmas tree lights off after 5pm, unless you want the landing-gear in your fireplace.
Sam Huang, UK
Expect a colony of mice, woodlice dropping from the rafters, holes in the floor and a leaking roof.
Popular village location - no shops within three miles and the only pub is about to go out of business
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!
My house benefits from 'exposed beams', that is to say the ceiling plaster came down when the upstairs bath overflowed.
"Would suit DIY enthusiast" - needs a LOT of work done to make it habitable.
10 Oct 02 | England
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