Since it’s been too hot to do much of anything lately, I’ve recently been reliving my childhood in my off hours by hungrily watching every episode of AMC’s “Mad Men” I can find on TV.
I adore watching Sterling Cooper’s creative division come up with catch phrases and ad copy for the products of the firms they represent. And considering that the world of advertising is one I reenter each time I list someone’s home, I like to think of myself as part Don and part Peggy, with a wistful nod to Joan from my younger days.
I remember my mother’s outrage when the William Esty Ad Agency declared that “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” As one who had drummed good grammar into me from the day I began speaking, she would holler at the radio, “as a cigarette should, you numbskulls!” while puffing on a Kent and sipping her martini.
Growing up, I watched Joe Willie don panty hose in the ’60s, taught the world to sing while drinking Tab in the ’70s and watched O. J. Simpson dash through airports in the ’80s. Running to catch a flight while late became known as “doing the OJ sprint.”
Real estate advertising tends to be a bit more conservative on the national level, focusing on home ownership, happy families and brand identity. When it gets to the local level, however, it can sometimes be confusing or misleading, but often downright funny. I strive for funny.
Anyone who has ever read real estate descriptions designed to entice buyers to a property has probably been frustrated by jargon and puffery (praising a product without mentioning its shortcomings). Like texting, we have industry shorthand, acronyms and what I call “Realtor speak” words and phrases like cozy (small), vintage (outdated) and needs TLC (possible money pit).
Learning the lingo is akin to studying a foreign language. Most people can figure out the basics: a BR is a bedroom, a BA is a bath and a FP is a fireplace. In the intermediate course, you learn HWF (hardwood floors), OSP (off-street parking) and EIK (eat-in kitchen).
The advanced class covers C/C Fee (condo or coop fee), CAM (common area maintenance) and Bsmt RR w/FB (basement recreation room with full bath), but only in post-graduate studies do you learn ORTRTAORAO (Owner reserves the right to accept or reject any offer).
I’m sure you have seen peacock words (“an absolutely amazing kitchen”), weasel words (“probably one of the most impressive homes on the block”) and fillers (“you’ll love living here”). I won’t pretend that I’ve not been guilty of all the above from time to time, but I especially love reading other people’s descriptive information about homes and happening upon a phrase that didn’t quite convey the meaning the writer intended.
Here are some of the funniest, as seen in the Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS), our local multiple listing database:
“Sort-after area.” So who was doing the sorting and why didn’t they sort areas before going to see the property?
“One-car attacked garage.” I think I saw that house on a State Farm commercial. Are you out there Jessica?
“Walking closet.” Better look quickly before it walks away entirely.
“Recently remolded.” I guess the scorching heat and thunderstorms these past two weeks could have been involved here.
“Sinking living room.” Now what is making it do that? Quicksand?
“Bring your fuzziest buyer.” Hmmm. Not sure if I should bring Joe or Stella.
“Big panty in the kitchen.” I can only imagine what’s in the laundry.
“Formal dinning room.” It’s the loudest room in the house, of course.
“Rot iron railings.” I’ve seen these rust, but never rot.
“Plantation shudders.” Are they shuddering at the rot on the iron railings, perhaps?
And my personal favorite: “Large dick in rear.”
So, the next time you see me, I’ll be proofreading my ad copy. In the meantime, my fuzzy buyer is checking out the big panty in the kitchen while waiting for the walking closet to saunter into the sinking living room. It’s enough to make a plantation shudder.
Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Prudential PenFed Realty is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.
Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.
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