A bijou gem? What estate agents’ favourite phrases really mean

The business of selling houses has its very own language. Here are some favourite lines

We all know that property catalogues and listings are about putting one’s best foot forward, but there’s a not-so-fine line between gussying up a property to attract potential buyers (and well over the asking price) and being flat-out flimsy with the truth. Luckily, I have pored over so many property listings now that I am attuned to agent speak and well able to decode the euphemisms to reveal the truth underneath.

Without further ado, here is your cut-out-and-keep guide to the stock phrases that estate agents love to use (and what they really mean).

“ABC Properties is delighted to present . . .” – ABC is getting a commission one way or the other, so I guess delight may be too strong a word.

“ABC Properties is thrilled to present . . .” – ABC quite likes how much commission this house could potentially make.


“An ideal investment property” – Well, it’s not so nice that you would actually want to live in it or anything. But feel free to charge someone through the nose for the privilege.

“This bijou offering is sure to delight a first-time buyer” – This is basically one room needing everything done to it.

“Fantastically low-maintenance garden” – It’s a yard, with room for either a bistro table set or a bike, but not both.

“Shops, cafes, bars and restaurants are a mere stroll away” – The truth is, you did shorter sponsored walks when you were in primary school, and when you get there, the amenities in question are a chipper, a hoover repair shop and a Spar.

“BER rating to be confirmed” – An igloo, basically.

"Enjoy all that coastal living has to offer" – You're a 20-minute drive from the nearest bit of coast. In a Ferrari.

“The property has been lovingly cared for by its current owners” – You’re still going to have to decorate, unless you happen to like flock wallpaper.

“This property offers a fantastic opportunity for someone to put their stamp on it” – Someone, that is, with a spare €100,000, a good architect, and a medal for bravery.

‘Deceptively spacious’

“Deceptively spacious” – It looks tiny from the outside, and it’s still tiny on the inside. We’re gaslighting you here a bit.

“Would benefit from modernisation” – It’s so old that the avocado bath has actually come back into fashion.

“This wonderful home boasts several period features, including cornicing, ornate ceiling plasterwork and original fireplaces” – We’re talking old and cold here. Set aside €200 a month for firelighters.

“Dublin city centre is a 20-minute Dart ride away” – Dublin city centre is a 35-minute Dart away, and the traffic in and out of here is absolutely lethal and sure to affect your sanity.

“This wonderfully mature neighbourhood, in a quiet cul-de-sac . . .” – You will be fighting with your elderly neighbours about taking in your bins and having people sit in the garden after 8pm.

"Much care has been given to creating a superbly stylish and impressive home" – The current owners went to Ikea and picked up a couple of filament lamps and a nice stripy rug.

“Offers the best in city living” – It’s bloody tiny, but look! There’s a Nespresso machine over there!

“Right beside X University” – Your head is going to be absolutely wrecked by teenagers throwing up on your garden every October.

“The light-filled garden is filled with mature shrubs and trees” – No one has looked after this garden in well over a decade.

“Viewing is highly recommended!” – Please just buy this. I can’t be bothered to do too many weekend viewings as I miss my lie-ins.

“Subject to planning permission, the house offers great potential” – Good luck working with that county council. They don’t grant planning for anything anymore.

“Charming” – Old.

“Mature” – again, Old.

‘Most fashionable neighbourhoods’

“Located in one of Ireland’s most fashionable neighbourhoods” – Well, it’s next to one of Ireland’s most fashionable neighbourhoods, but for the purposes of this ad, we are doing away with what Ordnance Survey official says and we have moved the neighbourhood boundaries ourselves.

“Tucked away in a secluded position” – Everyone on this road is in each other’s business. Get used to twitchy curtains.

“One of Ireland’s newest commuter towns” – Well, it’s a long way from Dublin but we’re hoping that everyone is priced out of everywhere else and so will consider living here instead.

“This unusual and exceptional layout is sure to appeal to a more discerning buyer” – The bathroom is where the kitchen once was and the kitchen is out in the garden. This house is officially bonkers and only for the genuinely desperate.

“The house provides everything a growing family could want” – A growing family with only two children in it. Otherwise, someone is going to have to share a bedroom.

“Location, Location, Location!” – Absolute and utter dive. Don’t say you weren’t warned.