Deceptively Spacious

My pet hates in estate agents’ details, from meaningless jargon to glaring mistakes.

Deceptively Spacious
An example of a bad estate agent's photo

My pet hates in estate agents’ details

Ever since I first worked as an estate agent in the 1980s I have been staggered by the meaningless jargon, unrealistic descriptions, and glaring mistakes I find in estate agent’s details. I thought I'd share a few of my top pet hates with you today.

  1. Bad photos. I mean bad. Really bad. Take a look at the example at the top of this post which I found on Rightmove recently. It's a smart bathroom, but all you can see is that towel. It would have been so much better if the photographer had spent two minutes tidying up before taking that photo, wouldn't it? There is no excuse for this.
  2. Feature fireplace. This is the one that makes me want to scream loudest! What is it that makes a fireplace a ‘feature fireplace’? Does it mean that it is attractive? That it works? That it is large? That it is an original period fireplace? That it is dramatic? Not necessarily. So why use this word? It simply demonstrates that the agent is too lazy to think of a meaningful adjective.
  3. Front elevation. What is the point of the word elevation? What is wrong with just saying front? This word has no function whatsoever, other than pomposity. Of course this applies equally to side elevation and rear elevation, wich leads me neatly to…
  4. Rear garden. Everybody I know says back garden or if they've watched too much US television, they might say back yard. Who says rear garden except an estate agent?
  5. Patio area. What makes a patio area different from a patio? Nothing, so don’t say it!
  6. Range of base units and wall units. Are we still in the 1950s? Is this really a selling point? Using this phrase merely implies that the kitchen units are terribly old fashioned, and there is nothing better to say about them. As soon as you read this phrase, It suggests to me that the buyer will want to rip the units out the second they get the keys.
  7. Calling a Juliet balcony a balcony. If you can’t stand on it, it's a Juliet balcony, not a balcony.
  8. Spelling Juliet. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen Juliet mis-spelled as Juliette, or worse. Maybe the agent thinks it looks prettier with the extra letters, but all it does is show that the estate agent has no knowledge of Shakespeare’s most famous play.
  9. Veranda and terrace, applied to a patio. Agents seem to like to big up a patio by calling it something posh, even when it’s only three feet deep.
  10. Conservatory, applied to a upvc lean-to. Surely if the owners wouldn’t call it a conservatory, the agent shouldn’t either.
  11. Garden room, applied to a upvc lean-to. Oh, seriously?
  12. Low maintenance garden. We all know that this means there is no grass. Please tell us what's actually there, rather than being evasive!
  13. Family bathroom. Houses are not only for families. Say main bathroom, separate bathroom, or just plain bathroom, please.
  14. WC. Water closet? Who says that any more? Say cloakroom or toilet please!
  15. Missing out critical information. This includes motorways, A roads, railway tracks, and flooding. Often these elephants in the room are obvious to anyone with a single brain cell and an internet connection, so not mentioning them makes agents look dishonest. In the ‘olden days’ you could argue that you needed to avoid mentioning any negatives in order to get buyers’ feet through the door, but that no longer applies. There will soon be new information disclosure rules obliging agents to mention anything which might affect the price, now or in the future. But agents shouldn't be waiting to be told to do this. It's better to mention the problem and explain how it is mitigated, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, so you don't mislead the potential buyer or waste the seller's time with a pointless viewing.
  16. When I asked my followers about their own pet hates in estate agent’s details, the most mentioned phrase was ‘deceptively spacious’. It’s everywhere we look, and the more we see it, the more we realise that it’s utterly ridiculous, and the more it jars.

Here are some of the most annoying descriptions which apply specifically to canalside properties:

  1. Calling the Canal & River Trust ‘British Waterways’. The Trust was launched in 2012. Keep up!
  2. Canals flowing past your property. As a general rule canals don't flow, and there are only a few exceptions to this, such as the top of the Llangollen, the canalised river navigations, or the first few metres below a lock when the paddles are up!
  3. The canal ‘lapping’ at the water’s edge. This is not something you would wish to see on a canal bank! Canals will not lap unless a boat is speeding past.
  4. Access to the canal. Sometimes access to the canal means there is a public footpath leading to the canal at the end of the road. Sometimes it means there is a gate to the towpath in the back garden. Be specific!
  5. Incorrect naming of canals. The most frequent errors I see are made-up variations on actual canal names, for example, calling the Leeds and Liverpool Canal the ‘Liverpool to Leeds Canal’
  6. Some estate agents make up canal names based on the names of local towns and villages, e.g. ‘the Lapworth Canal’.
  7. Calling narrowboats ‘barges’.

What’s your pet hate?

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