(Originally appeared in the Real Estate section of the L. A. Times.)
Even though I am not planning on moving any time soon, I am a sucker for real estate ads. You know – those cute little blurbs that leap out and catch your eye, starting you thinking that this has got to be too good to be true (it usually is).
Still, I can’t help but think I am missing out on a great deal when I read, “priced below market,” or “decorator perfect,” knowing all the while that there is probably leopard skin fabric on the walls of the master bedroom.
I have still been fooled by these devious descriptions – enough so that I feel compelled to share with you what these ads really mean.
Perfect for handyman – The place is barely standing. The kind of house “The Money Pit” was based on.
Almost new – Kind of like almost pregnant.
Real charmer – Something your grandmother would have loved. Everything is old and original including the wiring, the plumbing, and the roof.
Motivated seller – Desperate to get out of this dump and into something decent.
Cute as a button – A perfect house for the Care Bears to live in.
Low maintenance yard – Concrete and wood chips give this home the ambiance of a prison yard.
Open and airy – There is a slight problem with the roof, but just think – you won’t need air conditioning.
Architect’s own – Spacey, trendy, and unique. A great house if you like triangular kitchens, lofts, and waterfalls in the bathroom.
Close to the freeways – Is that a tire track in the back yard?
Rustic – The bathroom is out back.
Private back yard – There is a steep hill rising for 300 feet almost directly out of your back door.
Unobstructable ocean view – There is no such thing.
Great little starter – For those people desperate to get into their first home, and aren’t too picky.
Great potential – If you have an extremely large bank account and an even larger imagination.
Fixer-upper – Don’t even ask. If they are brave enough to call it a fixer-upper, you know the place has serious problems.
Hot new listing – If it’s that hot, why is it even listed?
Woodsy lot – The trees haven’t been trimmed in thirty years. The house is dark, creepy, and smells suspiciously of mildew.
Perfect family home – Comes complete with intercoms, laundry chutes, and crayon drawings on the walls. A smell of various pets that won’t ever come out.
Love to entertain? – An 800 square-foot house with an illegal 600 square-foot bonus room added on.
Back on the market – The last buyers wised up and got out before the deal closed.
Price reduced – They haven’t found any suckers yet who will pay the outrageous asking price.
Pride of ownership – Too bad the owner liked gold foil wallpaper and fake wood paneling.
Unique, one-of-a-kind – You will never re-sell this one.
Beach bungalow – 900 square feet fixer-upper for a million bucks. And they have fifteen offers.
Good starter/room to add on – A teeny-tiny house, but great if you are a family of midgets with high-paying jobs.
Owner anxious – He must know something that we don’t.
Close to shopping – Walk out your front door and right into the parking lot of a mini-mall.
Original owner – This is a house with avocado green appliances, gold shag wall-to-wall carpets, huge swag lamps that weigh about 400 pounds each, aluminum sliding doors, and pink and green bathrooms with the original linoleum. A museum to the 50’s.