The language of estate agents

Estate agent speak is a whole separate language, designed to baffle and mislead. Susan Erasmus has put together a quick guide for first-time home buyers. Go nowhere without this.

It's a very good time to buy a house. There are no other buyers out there, because they have all had their bond applications turned down. Furthermore, one sees houses languishing and growing stale on the market for months– and somewhere in the background lurks a frenzied seller who is about to have his car, his home and his wife repossessed. Now is the time to make a cheeky offer.

I realised just how bizarre estate agent speak was when I saw with astonishment  an ad last week that was written in normal language, and it called a spade a spade. It went as follows:

Deceased estate R900 000. Solid, but tatty. 5 large rooms, attractive modern fitted kitchen, horrid but well-positioned bathroom, small back garden.

Ah – the truth at last. Now the agent who is sitting in the house doesn't have to pretend not to see the cracked tiles or the mould on the ceiling. But not all agents are like this, alas. And, yes there are some fabulous houses or flats out there. You'll know when you see them. But for the rest, do take note of the table below.

Here's a quick guide to estate agent speak:


What they say

What they mean


The lounge has been painted

Just waiting for your touch

As far as the interior is concerned, this is a no-hoper

Centrally situated/convenient

The main road and the station are 5 metres from your bedroom


Tatty and there's no en-suite bathroom or off-street parking

Big family bathroom

No en-suite bathroom

Rich wooden floors

Yes, after the woodborer has been exterminated


It's so small you'll be in trouble if you pick up any weight


The kitchen is part of the lounge

Happy street

See if you can get any sleep with these neighbours

Ideal student accommodation

Tatty, but lots of bedrooms. You can pack them in


It has no cracks, but hell, it's ugly


Double storey

Priced right

This seller is desperate and has dropped the price twice already

Outside room/granny flat

We painted the domestic quarters

Will sell quickly/today

I am holding both thumbs – I haven't sold a house in 3 months

All the space you need

Rabbit warren. There are inter-leading bedrooms


No built-in cupboards and there's an open sewerage drain/mould

Plenty of parking

The last owners just weren't gardeners

Lush garden

More than three bushes/trees

Don't judge a book by its cover

It's so ugly on the outside it made me weep


Built in the 1970s. There's slasto cladding on the chimney

Outside entertainment area

Stoep and a braai

Lock-up- and- go

No garden at all


You sure wouldn't want to live in it yourself


It costs more than R4million

Sought after

It's 20% more expensive than the surrounding properties


There are burglar bars – well on the front windows anyway

Starter home

It's really, really small

Within walking distance of

If you have enough time, anything is within walking distance

Low maintenance


Partial sea view

If you stand on a chair and look through a pair of binoculars

Open plan

Built after 1980

Designer kitchen

We added R40 000 onto the price

Great tenant

He doesn't want to move - ever

Fairytale garden

Overgrown, but can be saved


Characterful, but there's no plumbing

Peace and quiet

It's so isolated you're bound to get a bit jumpy


No garage

Good flow

The previous owner knocked all the walls out downstairs

Tucked away

The plot isn't level


All the windows need to be redone and the electrics are lethal

Renovator's dream

This place is a bottomless pit


No one ever uses the domestic quarters anymore.

 (Susan Erasmus, Health24, June 2011)

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