Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Read a Real Estate Listing

As a seasoned house-hunter, I know that reading a property listing is an art. There are so many tricks beyond substituting "cozy" for "tiny" and "open kitchen" for "the fridge is next to the fireplace."

Let's consider this listing, posted earlier this week
Stunning South End Penthouse with Custom touches that will make your head spin! Step into this 2 bedroom luxury palace and find yourself intrigued with the exposed brick, Granite like you have never seen before, Chef's kitchen with custom drawers, Sub Zero Appliances, built-in Wine bar, sound system and 2 private outdoor spaces with remarkable views of Boston. Walk In Closets, high ceilings, stunning baths and the open concept layout are just a start to why you would love to live here. Walk right outside your home to the health trail that leads to Back Bay. Pet Friendly building and ready for move in at your convenience. OPEN HOUSE SATURDAY AND SUNDAY FROM 12 -1:30
Let's "unpack" this, as my anthropology professor used to say as we were about to consider various Western theories about some tribal culture. Realtors are also an interesting tribe, maybe not so unlike those cargo cults from Melanesia that we studied. We all do what it takes to survive in a tough world.

So let's translate this:

Stunning South End Penthouse with Custom touches that will make your head spin! 

If your head is going to spin, those "Custom touches" are likely to be weird and puzzling.


Step into this 2 bedroom luxury palace and find yourself intrigued with the exposed brick, 

If it's a "palace," it means it's a normal size for a 2-bedroom. Exposed brick is always "intriguing" because you can't figure out why it's still around in 2014 when it ceased to be cool in the 1980s. Here's a clue: plastering costs landlords and developers money. Another clue: people who own places with exposed brick trick themselves into thinking it's still desirable or might become trendy again any minute now. At a minimum, "Luxury" means the bathrooms have doors and faucets.


Granite like you have never seen before, 

I hope this doesn't mean the granite has huge swirly patterns in loud colors. The worst I ever saw was bright blue granite with what looked like red and yellow fetuses floating around.

No, it's granite like I've often seen before. 
But it looks like two different colors are on the floor...

Chef's kitchen with custom drawers, Sub Zero Appliances, 

The fancy appliances and cabinets cost the owners a fortune and they'll be in great condition. Not because they are brand-new but because hardly anyone bothers to cook these days, especially in the South End, where they are surrounded by restaurants. Often, a "Chef's kitchen" means that its owner likes to give the appearance of being a foodie but mostly patronizes real chefs. A true cook's kitchen is a no-nonsense sort of place; they don't seem to care much about the price or chicness of their batterie de cuisine as long as the knives are sharp and nothing is falling apart.


built-in Wine bar, sound system and 

The built-in sound system is generally a form of self-defense against noisy neighbors (see below), but in a penthouse, it would have been smarter to put those speakers by the floor. And, OMG, the "built-in Wine bar" means you have a big refrigerator in your living room. If you don't already have a drinking problem, you'd better get one:


2 private outdoor spaces with remarkable views of Boston. 

The deck and roof deck are why most of us are giving this place any serious thought. It's an annoying truth that the best outdoor spaces alway seem to be deeded to the weirdest condos. And the best condos have no deck or patio. At least in my price range. And, yes, I am bitter.


Walk In Closets, high ceilings, stunning baths and the open concept layout are just a start to why you would love to live here. 

"Open concept" means, of course, the developer wanted to save money on building walls. It also means that you won't have any privacy if you live with anyone, or have guests — unless you hide in the bathroom. Bathrooms haven't made it into the open-concept concept yet, thank god. And I think this might be why you'll find the even tiny little apartments nevertheless have two full bathrooms but not enough bedroom or closet space, and certainly not room for a stacking washer and dryer, the Holy Grail of small apartment living.

It only looks like the range hood is over the dining table.
And I think that is the fireplace — not a wall oven. But who can say?

Walk right outside your home to the health trail that leads to Back Bay. 

"Health trail"? I'm stumped. I'm envisioning a pathway lined with Spandex-clad personal trainers yelling at me to move faster and physical therapists complaining about my posture, and maybe a few yoga stations, smoothie stands, and medical facilities here and there. Maybe the agent is referring to the Southwest Corridor Park, which does have bike paths and tennis courts and so on. But calling it a "health trail" is weird broker-speak. "Leads to Back Bay" is a nice way of pointing out that the South End, which still has lots of rough edges despite decades of gentrification, is convenient to an even more expensive neighborhood.


Pet Friendly building and ready for move in at your convenience. 

"Pet Friendly" means your neighbors will include a few large, relentlessly barking dogs. Or some crazy couple with, like, five cats. "Ready for move in at your convenience" could mean that the sellers are so fed up with something they are not disclosing that they can't wait to get the hell out of there. Best to ask about other unit owners, abutters, pets, and any other resident wildlife. But it could also just be that Baby #2 or #3 is on the way so they've bought a house in the 'burbs. Or they're about to go bankrupt from eating out too much.


OPEN HOUSE SATURDAY AND SUNDAY FROM 12 -1:30

Two open houses in this hot market? Ha. That's just to impress the listing agent's boss. This condo was listed on a Tuesday and should be under agreement by Friday. That line may actually contain a coded message to the broker's pals that he'll be celebrating at a certain bar on Nantucket on Saturday night.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Unless you are spamming me about, say, Skype, I love getting comments and do my best to follow up if you have a question. I delete ALL spam, attempts to market other websites, and anything nasty or unintelligible. The cats and I thank you for reading — and please do leave a comment that isn't spam, etc.