Rose-Tinted Listings

I get the feeling that someone at Inman News has been reading Seattle Bubble lately… Check out this story about the misleading descriptions real estate agents sometimes write for properties.

Do you steam when you follow up on a newspaper advertisement for “cozy cottage” and find a falling-down fixer? Can the term “waterfront access” accurately describe a public boat launch three miles away?

Advertisements sometimes are too complimentary and do not accurately describe the property for which they were written. Some homeowners and creative real estate agents, like many people in the sales game, dress up a product prettier than it actually is to lure the largest number of potential buyers — especially when the market has slowed in many neighborhoods.

In Washington state, Puget Sound residents are spoiled and often take for granted the number of properties with amenities in this region. The numerous bodies of water coupled with terraced hillsides offer area residents view opportunities not available in most areas of the country.

But don’t get carried away if you are a seller attempting to write an ad. A “peekaboo Sound view” should be more than standing on a toilet and cranking your neck to get a glimpse of water through the neighbor’s trees in winter.

Now check out this quote (first posted as part of a comment, then in a separate blog post) from one of Seattle Bubble’s most vocal prognosticators, Eleua:

“peakaboo view” = in the dead of winter, during a 50 knot gale, you may, if conditions are perfect, be able to use a 500 power telescope from the upper windows in the laundry room, and be able to see more than 1/4 mile for half of a second.

Granted, not exactly the same wording, but Inman’s story certainly sounds to me like it was “inspired by” Eleua’s “Rosetta Stone.”

What’s the most egregious example that you have personally seen of an overly-rosy property description?

(Inman News, 11.29.2006)

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    rentalbliss says:

    How about this “cozy 1st home” on a “beautiful, private, 6800 sq. ft., treed lot”

    It’s like a partially underground trailer. “Best Investment Opportunity in N. Seattle.”

  2. 2
    WaitinginMarysville says:

    It isn’t a trailer; it’s a basement with no house!

    There are too many of them to mention, including the above ad, but whenever an ad says that something is a good investment what it means is it will have been a good investment for the seller if you pay their asking price, and any ad that says Priced to sell! is overpriced.

  3. 3
    Lake Hills Renter says:

    A house down the street that was for sale last year advertised “mountain view”. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what mountain they supposedly view. There’s not even a hint of a view of any mountain or even hill here.

  4. 4
    SeattleMoose says:

    Saw an ad “Won’t Last” and when we went to see the house saw evidence of foundation problems and a noticeable lean to one wall.

    For once the advertisement was right!!!

  5. 5
    biliruben says:

    How about:

    Irrigated terraces for boutique vineyard. Very private, sought-after location, next to the Peruvian Consulate.

    This house is on Bothell Way. A very sought after location – if your doctor recommends breathing diesel fumes for that rare lung ailment.

  6. 6
    biliruben says:


    The strength of stone at waters edge ~ an outdoor living room the perfect appetizer for parties by the fireside. Mt. Rainier’s ice-cone majestic beyond description.

    Granted, it’s a sweet house if you have a spare 3 mil lying around, but I’m not sure plagiarizing from a Harlequin Romance was really necessary.

  7. 7
    E-sidedave says:


    Is that a Wendy Lister listing?

  8. 8
    Eleua says:

    Thanks Tim!

    When you get writers saying PNW real estate is going to sell for 30 cents on the dollar (plus or minus), then you know it is time for ashes and sackcloth.

  9. 9

    […] “listing language decoder” at the end of the piece sound familiar, it may be because we’ve discussed this subject before, almost exactly one year ago. Be sure to check out Eleua’s Real Estate Agent Rosetta […]

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