25+ Words to Know as You Browse Listings

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Most home buyers start browsing listings online before they even hire a real estate agent. As you read through listing descriptions, you may quickly realize that listing agents have their own language - complete with idioms, abbreviations, and code words. 

To help you decipher, we put together a list of the common and not so common listings terms and home features you may encounter. 

Terms to describe home features

Butler’s pantry

A butler’s pantry is a small room tucked just off of the main kitchen or dining room. Unlike a simpler walk-in pantry, butler's pantries often have countertops, drawers, and overhead storage. 

This room is highlighted in listings because it gives you an extra food preparation area or pantry storage. A butler’s pantry is more common in older or high-end homes.


A cul-de-sac, also known as a dead end, is simply a street or roadway closed off on one end. Buyers often pay a premium to live on a cul-de-sac because it typically means less traffic and more privacy.

Cul-de-sac is a French word that directly translates to “bottom of a sack,” which is what a cul-de-sac road looks like from an aerial view.

Flex room

A flex room is a spare room that can be used for various functions, such as a guest bedroom, home office, or gym. 

Sometimes, a flex room does not even need to be an entire room but can simply refer to a spare space in the house, more common in apartment listing descriptions.

Formal dining room

Formal dining rooms are separate rooms typically located directly off the entrance, kitchen, or main gathering room. Formal dining rooms commonly feature large dining room tables, ornate lighting, pocket doors, or grand swinging french doors to seclude the space from the rest of the home.

Having a formal dining room can add value to your home as it is typically considered a “bonus” room that can be used as a dining room or repurposed to an office or study space. 

Garden tub

A garden tub is a deep, freestanding tub that’s typically found in luxurious master bathrooms. Garden tubs can be traced back to the 1700s when French aristocrats placed them in their gardens to admire the scenery as they bathed.

Granite counters

Granite countertops are made out of durable, natural stone and are found in kitchens and bathrooms. Having granite countertops adds to a listing’s appeal as homeowners like its durability, ease of cleaning, and visual appeal.

Jack and Jill bathroom

A Jack and Jill bathroom is a shared bathroom that is accessible from two bedrooms. This type of bathroom has at least two doors, similar to what you would find separating a couple of conjoined hotel rooms.

Named after the two children in the nursery rhyme, a Jack and Jill bathroom is often shared by siblings. You’ll often find two sinks and two mirrors to make sharing easier.

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Open floor plan

An open floor plan is a broad term to describe a room with open sightlines from one side of the room to the other. An example of this is an open concept floor plan throughout the kitchen and living room that allows parents who are cooking to watch over their kids watching television.

Open kitchen

An open kitchen is a kitchen that allows for free flow between the living room and other adjacent rooms. In contrast, a traditional closed kitchen would be isolated from the rest of the house by walls.

Owner’s suite

In recent years the term “master suite” or “master bedroom” has become interchangeable with ‘owner’s suite’ or “owner’s bedroom.” The “owner’s suite” refers to a large bedroom with a private ensuite bathroom and spacious closet space.

Vaulted ceilings

A vaulted ceiling is an architectural term used to describe a ceiling formed by using tall, self-supporting beams made of stone or wood that allow for more overhead space. Vaulted ceilings are a popular home feature because they make a room feel larger and more open. 


Wainscotting is a term used to describe interior panels applied to a wall to create a textured look on the surface. The panels are usually made of wood but can also be made of tile, plastic, and even drywall.

Wet bar

A wet bar is an indoor or outdoor bar with running water and a sink, as opposed to a dry bar that may only be a countertop and refrigerator. Wet bars are commonly used for mixing drinks or preparing food outdoors. You’ll find them in older or high-end homes.

Common abbreviations

BOB fence

BOB fencing is an abbreviation for board-on-board fencing, a style of fencing commonly used to separate homes due to the lack of air space between the individual pieces of wood. Board-on-board fencing gives homeowners added privacy.

SS appliances

“SS appliances” is just an abbreviation for “stainless steel appliances.” Real estate agents call out this feature because stainless steel appliances are a popular kitchen amenity.

TLC/”needs TLC”

If a house “needs a bit of TLC,” it means that the house will need some upgrades and renovations. The abbreviation TLC stands for “Tender, Loving, Care.” 

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General listing terms, idioms, and code words

Curb appeal

Curb appeal describes how attractive a home looks from the street. A house that has a beautiful, well-maintained exterior is described as having “good curb appeal.” 

When listing your home, agents recommend making sure your home has good curb appeal so you can make a great first impression on buyers.

Hidden gem

The phrase “hidden gem” is an idiom used to describe a property or real estate market flying under the radar and may provide more value than more popular properties or markets. 

It’s a popular term in listing descriptions because it implies that not too many people know about the property. 

Motivated seller

If you are a prospective buyer looking for a home, the phrase ‘motivated seller’ should grab your attention. A motivated seller is a homeowner with more urgency to sell, whether because they are moving soon, have bought a new house, or are going through financial issues that require liquidating assets. A motivated seller can be more open to negotiations.

Quaint home

A “quaint home” is often a code word for a smaller than average house. However, it can also refer to a peculiarly charming house, whether that be due to an old-fashioned appearance or unique curb appeal.

Serious buyers only

When you come across a listing that states “serious buyers only,” you should be prepared to encounter an owner looking to expedite the sale of their listing by only dealing directly with buyers who are prepared to make an offer.  Buyers like this are much less likely to offer an open-house-like tour of their house unless there is serious intent to purchase.  

Starter home

A starter home is a smaller, modest home typically bought by a first-time buyer. Starter homes are priced lower than the median home value in a market.

Turnkey property

Turnkey is an adjective used to describe a home, apartment, or condo that is move-in ready.  A turnkey home will not require any significant renovations or remodels.

Many first-time homebuyers look for turnkey properties since they do not have much experience renovating or making large-scale repairs.

Found another term you don’t know?

Refer to our glossary for more terms that may come up during the home buying and selling process. And if you’re looking for a trusted agent to help you make sense of it all, consider listing and buying with Orchard. 

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