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. Here are are my top pet hates:
- 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? Not necessarily. Does it mean that it works? Not necessarily. Does it mean that it is large? Not necessarily. Does it mean that it is an original period fireplace? Not necessarily. Does it mean 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.
- Front elevation. What is the point of the word elevation? What is wrong with 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…
- Rear garden. Who says rear garden except an estate agent. Everybody I know says back garden or back yard. What do you say?
- Patio area. What makes a ‘patio area’ different from a patio? Nothing, so don’t say it!
- 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 units in the kitchen are terribly old fashioned, there is nothing better to say about them. As soon as you read this phrase, It is obvious that the buyer is going to rip the units out the second they get the keys.
- Balcony, when applied to a Juliet balcony. If you can’t stand on it, it is not a balcony.
- Juliette balcony. 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.
- Veranda and terrace, when applied incorrectly. Agents seem to like to big up the patio by calling it something posh, even when it’s only three feet deep.
- Conservatory, when applied to a upvc lean-to. Surely if the owners wouldn’t call it a conservatory, the agent shouldn’t.
- Garden room, when applied to a upvc lean-to. Oh, seriously?
- Low maintenance garden. We all know that this means there is no grass. Just tell us what there is instead!
- Family bathroom. Are houses only for families? Say main bathroom, separate bathroom, or just plain bathroom, please.
- W.C. Water closet? Who says that any more? Cloakroom or toilet, please!
- Missing out critical information. Motorways, A roads, railway tracks, flooding. 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. These elephants in the room are obvious to anyone with a single brain cell and an internet connection. Better to mention the problem and explain how it is mitigated, than to pretend it doesn’t exist.
- Bad photos. I mean bad. Really bad. There is no excuse for this.
Here are some of the most jarring which apply specifically to canalside properties:
- Calling the Canal & River Trust ‘British Waterways’. The Trust was launched in 2012. Keep up!
- Canals ‘flowing’ past your property. As a general rule canals barely flow, and there are only a few exceptions to this, such as the top of the Llangollen, and the river navigations.
- The canal ‘lapping’ at the water’s edge. They do not lap unless a boat is speeding past. This is not something you would hope to see!
- Access to the canal. Sometimes access to the canal means there is a public footpath to the canal at the end of the road. Sometimes it means there is a gate to the towpath in the back garden.
- Incorrect naming of canals. The most frequent errors I see are descriptive variations on the actual canal names, e.g. the ‘Liverpool to Leeds Canal’
- Making up canal names, e.g. ‘the Lapworth Canal’.
- Calling narrowboats ‘barges’.
I asked our Facebook group members about their 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, and the more we realise that it’s utterly ridiculous, the more it jars. What’s your pet hate?