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Decoding Home Listings

Posted in Home Ownership
April 20th 2017 by
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If you’re looking for a house, you’re probably figuring out which ones you want to see in-person based on online ads. And if you’ve already been out looking, you’ve probably seen houses that didn’t quite match up to their description.

Here’s how to spot the red flags in home listings, plus the positive touches you should look for.

Language Can Be Deceptive

Less-than-desirable properties often have clever adjectives describing them. They sound good, but it’s really a mask to hide an issue. Examples include:

  • Cozy – This sounds comforting and quaint, but in real estate it usually means small. Especially if it’s referring to a space in the city.
  • Unique – You might not want a cookie-cutter house, but what your definition of unique is may not mesh up with others. Unique might refer to something easily changeable – think paint or built-in amenities – but it could also mean the layout or other permanent (structural) features. Of course, it could just be an adjective the real estate company is tossing around for every property. Try to figure out why they’re calling a property “unique.”
  • Vintage – There can be a certain charm with older properties, but vintage might not be a good thing. Vintage may mean nothing has been updated.

Pay Attention to Photographs

First things first: if there are no photos of the property, it’s probably not worth your time unless you’re looking for a rehab project.

There should be a good number of photos, ideally with different angles of all the bigger rooms. Photos lacking detail are a red flag. If there’s only one view of the living room, it could be hiding issues.

Detail-Oriented Descriptions

Beautiful and charming are how YOU want to feel about your potential property. But think about what that means to you – what qualities make a home look nice? Once you figure that out, look for details that indicate it fills that criteria. Examples

  • Stainless Steel – If you want a kitchen with a modern look, see if the ad mentions stainless steel appliances.
  • Granite or Ceramic Tile- If you’re looking for a sophisticated, luxurious atmosphere.
  • Remodeled – If the property is older, look for mentions of remodeling, which is usually better than “updated.”

…and Photographs

You should have plenty of photographs to scroll through and multiple angles of the larger rooms.

Don’t Forget Your Pre-Approval

Shopping with a pre-approval can make things a lot easier. To learn more about this, and all aspects of the home-buying process, visit our mortgage page.


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