What “Cozy” Really Means: Decoding Online Real Estate Listings


Crossing Fingers Behind Back

It’s a well-known fact of the online dating world: no one ever looks like they did in the photos. And, all too often, what people have to say for themselves isn’t true, either. For example, that self-employed “independent craftsman” might just be whittling figurines in his mother’s basement and selling them on eBay.

What’s true for people is just as true for houses. Sellers and agents alike will often try to catch the eyes of potential buyers—and deflect attention away from unpleasant property features—by using carefully crafty real estate listings full of sneaky marketing language.

Buying a house is such a complicated process that it’s best to beware—you don’t want to exhaust yourself with unnecessary trips, or disappoint yourself with showings which aren’t what they claimed to be. Unpack the lingo with this handy guide of common real estate euphemisms and their true meanings.

“Recent owner updates” “Recently renovated” “Updated”

It’s rare to see a real estate listing that doesn’t mention one of these phrases. After all, homes which have been prepared for market sell much more quickly, and for much higher prices, than those that are left as-is. However, be aware that “updates” can mean anything as small as a fresh coat of paint and a new shower head. Be sure to ask the seller’s agent exactly which “updates” are recent,  and exactly when they were made.

“Great investment property” “Take as-is” “Make it your own” “Needs TLC” “Has potential” “Fixer-upper” “Opportunity”  

All of these terms mean the same thing: the house is in need of serious repairs. And if the seller isn’t willing to make those repairs, it might mean that they’re more expensive than the house itself. A fixer-upper isn’t always bad news; it might mean that you can negotiate a lower price, and you may be able to increase the home’s market value over time. However, the property might also be a bottomless money pit—something that demands more time, money, and energy than you’re able to give it.

To avoid taking on a risky investment, hire a professional home inspector to help you determine the full extent of the damage.  An experienced home inspector will also be able to offer an educated opinion on whether or not the home can be affordably fixed.

“Classic” “Traditional” “Vintage” “Vintage Details” “Retro” “Mature landscaping”

In other words, old. If you see this wording, it is likely that some or all of the property will be original and not restored. If you’re a vintage-lover, this might be a plus for you—where else can you find turn-of-the-century tiles these days? All the same, consider how the home’s age has affected the plumbing, wiring, and other important, less-visible features. Bear in mind that “mature” trees, while majestic, will also require more pruning, and may be a poor choice if you don’t have the time to keep up with them.

“Cozy” “Adorable” “Cute” “Charming”

In other words, small. Look closely at the dimensions of the rooms to decide if this “cozy” real estate listing is worth your time. If no dimensions are mentioned, take it as a warning sign.

“Unique” “One-of-a-Kind” “Quirky”

People, clothing, and hats should be described as quirky; homes should not. A “unique” real estate listing usually spells trouble, as houses which deviate from the norm typically aren’t a good thing. The phrase might be referring to something downright strange, like an odd kitchen/bathroom combo—and you can be sure that whatever it is won’t be in the listing photos.

“Convenient Location” “Walk to School” “Close to Shopping” “Luxury”

These are pretty standard real estate descriptors, but sometimes they are indicators that the property will be expensive. Houses that are close to schools have a higher market value than those that aren’t, meaning that if a house is near a school, you will have to pay for it whether you have children or not. The same can be said for shopping centers, parks, and popular attractions.

“Up-and-coming neighborhood” “Emerging location” “Exclusive Location”

On the other hand, descriptors such as these might mean that the property is isolated and/or located in a neighborhood that is still being developed. However, this is not always necessarily a bad thing. You might enjoy the initial peace and silence, and the excitement of being the first in a new neighborhood as others move in to join you.

Water views”

This phrase doesn’t always mean that you’ll be looking at genuine lakefront property. It might be the case that you have to stand on a roof with binoculars in order to catch a glimpse of water.

“Contact for photos”

No matter what a property truly looks like, a lack of listing photos indicates that the seller isn’t working with a professional to sell the home. When you consider how complex and lengthy the home-buying process is, you’ll agree that a seller who can’t be bothered to list photos isn’t someone you want to be working with, anyway.

Buy a House in Greensboro or High Point NC

Real estate language, while often misused, isn’t always an indication of a hidden disaster. Responsible real estate agents and real estate companies typically don’t use it to deceive, because it’s a waste of a realtor’s time to show a house that buyers have been “tricked” into viewing and won’t actually purchase. It’s far easier for real estate agents to be honest and open in their real estate listings, so that buyers can be matched with homes much more quickly and efficiently.

However, less honest (and less experienced) sellers don’t always understand this, which is why you should always be sure to read between the lines when browsing real estate listings. Working closely with a realtor of your own—called a buyer’s agent—can also help you tread carefully, and avoid wasting time on deceptive showings. To contact a real estate company in Greensboro, High Point, or Winston Salem, contact Ed Price Realtors today, and or browse our 100% honest real estate listings in Greensboro and High Point.

Local Elementary School Ratings

local schoolsEven if you don’t have kids, it’s a smart idea to consider the quality of local school districts when hunting for a new home. While a well-ranked school can often drive up the price of homes in the surrounding district, its presence can help preserve a home’s value and ensure faster resale when you’re ready to move.

Buyers often find that a pricier home in a district with a strong public school is actually a better bargain in the long run. Of course, for buyers who do have children, it’s a win-win situation—a home whose price will remain stable even in a down market, and access to a high-quality education for the kids.

To see which school ratings in the Forsyth, Davidson, and Guilford counties make the grade, check out our comparison below.

Forsyth County Schools

Meadowlark Elementary, in Winston-Salem, has the largest elementary school in the Forsyth school district with over 890 students. In 2015 it ranked 41st of elementary schools in N.C. on Schooldigger.com, better than 91.7% of elementary schools. The student/teacher ratio is 15.9 with 56 full-time teachers on staff.

Whitaker Elementary is among the best schools in Forsyth County and North Carolina. Ranked the 13th best elementary school in N.C in 2015, it performed better than 99.1% of North Carolina elementary schools. Its average standard test score was 96.78, and its student/teacher ratio is 16 to 1 with 37 teachers on staff.

Davidson County Schools

With over 850 students, Wallburg Elementary is the largest elementary school in the Davidson school district. In 2015, it was ranked first among 18 ranked elementary schools in Davidson County. The average standard test score was 81.34.

Friedberg Elementary, in Winston-Salem, was ranked 3rd among 18 ranked elementary schools in Davidson County. It has 464 students, and a student/teacher ratio of 18 to 1. It employs over 25 full-time teachers.

Midway Elementary, in Lexington, was ranked 4th among elementary schools in Davidson County. It employs over 29 teachers, with a student/teacher ratio of 17.9.

Guilford County Schools

Jefferson Elementary is among the highest-ranked schools in Guilford County, with a 5-star rating on Greatschools.org and Schooldigger.com. This public school serves children in grades 1-5, with a student body of about 600 students. In 2015 it ranked better than 97.9% of schools on Schooldigger.com. The student to teacher ratio is 13 to 1.

Southwest Elementary, in High Point, has more than 680 students in grades PK-5. In 2015, it ranked better than 91.4% of elementary schools in N.C. on Schooldigger.com, or 6th out of 69 ranked elementary schools in Guilford County. The Average Standard Test Score in 2015 was 87.73. The school employs about 40 teachers.

Florence Elementary, also in High Point, ranked better than 81.2% of elementary schools in North Carolina. In the ranking of 69 elementary schools in Guilford County, it ranked 10th. The Average Standard Test Score in 2015 was 77.9, and it employs about 41 full-time teachers.

Look at the Long Run

Of course, when buying a home, you should always focus on size, condition, and price before other considerations. But when you’re looking at location, location, location, don’t forget the surrounding school ratings. In ten or fifteen years, you may be thankful that you did.