Okay, I’m hardly guiltless when it comes to describing properties in Manhattan with original words and phrases. But what bloggers and others refer to as “broker babble” has captured my attention of late. To me, it is only at a slight remove from babies’ babble.
And don’t get me started on dependence on whole words in uppercase or just initial caps. As for exclamation points, brokers love them more than unrepresented buyers!!!!
Consider, for example, ceilings that are 11, 12 or 14 feet above the floor that are redundantly termed high or soaring in the same breath.
One of the words I especially like to malign is “unique.” Even each apartment in the same line of a 40-story building is unique, if only because the difference of a single floor makes each unit unique. Indeed, there exists not a single property in the world that is not unique.
I also get turned off by “one of a kind” and “rarely available.” They go hand-in-hand with “won’t last.” Hurry, hurry, hurry, step right up!
Condition is another avenue that demonstrates the creative deficits that many brokers display. You can count on it being excellent, mint, triple mint, move-in or superb, among other descriptors. Sure you can enjoy a place that is in move-in condition — that is, if you hang photos and paintings of exactly the same size and in the same place that the previous owner has selected.
I’m especially fond, too, of noting that kitchens these days tend to be “gourmet” or “chef’s,” though I suspect many chefs would blanch at their ability to churn out gustatory delights for a crowd in such spaces.
When it comes to renovations, as any reader of broker babble already knows, you can be sure that they will be beautiful, stunning, fastidious, extraordinary, meticulous or tasteful.
Cabinetry, closets and built-ins will be “custom,” as if mere measuring makes elevates them to a higher level than those bought off the shelf. Finishes and products invariably will be “designer,” “top-of-the-line,” “imported” and imbued with the caché of their names; the Waterworks brand gets an uncommon amount of attention and, through overuse, mutes the distinctiveness of a humble sink.
I came across one listing not long ago that had all the following brands names in a single paragraph in an effort to glorify the renovations: G.D. Dorigo, Italia, Euromobill, Zalf, Miele, Kohler, Dombracht (a shower head, for goodness sake) and Liebherr (48″ integrated full overlay paneled refrigerator with wine cooler”). I guess the broker’s theory is that if the apartment doesn’t sell itself, the words will do the trick.
Can you stand more of the drivel?
How about those views! They are bound to be open, breathtaking, spectacular, panoramic, dramatic or dazzling. Or some combination thereof.
Moreover, brokers want you to purchase your “dream home” in a “luxury” building, now matter how imperfect the home or shabby the lobby.
And I have to say that I’m baffled by the word “soaking” before “tub” as I frequently see in listings. Aside from the unrenovated bath of some pre-war maid’s rooms, I cannot summon the image of bathtub in which I could not soak substantially more than clothing.
Another such imprecise phrase is bedrooms that are “winged” or “split,” as if they might fly away or demand repair. (However, I confess to being unable to come up with a felicitous way of describing bedrooms that are not adjacent, separated by other rooms.)
Of course, properties are always spacious and the rooms, usually well-proportioned. But we also encounter often places that are rambling, sprawling, elegant or gracious.
Closets have their own vocabulary as well. They’re ample, generous, walk-in or oversize (like windows).
Locations are not only ideal, desirable, fantastic, convenient or coveted. They too may be steps to or from various neighborhood amenities, thereby violating the Fair Housing Act, which bars discrimination on the grounds of disability (among other factors such as sex, religion and national origin).
Prospective buyers in wheelchairs well may wonder whether “steps” is meant as a signal to them to avoid the listing.
Look, brokers are sales professionals, and they need to use whatever words they think will work to entice buyers. The fact is, there are only so many ways to convey in a word or two the benefits of a particular property.
As I said at the beginning, I’m as guilty as the next one — in no small part because I write so many descriptions every week in my blog. But wouldn’t it be nice if each of us could show more originality without sacrificing flair? So cool!!!!