ZeroDown's Naughty/Nice List of Real Estate Listing Terms

Asking Santa for a new home for the holidays might be a little difficult (he hasn’t gotten into home-building just yet) but that doesn’t mean that we can't apply his methods when home shopping during the holidays -- or any time of the year for that matter.

Below are our “Nice” and “Naughty” lists of things to watch for in listings when shopping for homes:


Recently remodeled kitchen or bathroom

The kitchen and the bathroom are two of the highest traffic rooms in our homes (especially with the amount of time people are spending at home these days) so renovations to these spaces have a significant comfort value and comparatively high return on value.

New furnace / water heater

Most furnaces and water heaters only last about 10 -15 years before they it starts making sense to consider replacements. A home with a recently replaced furnace and water heater will spare you the trouble of finding you have no hot water and a non-functioning HVAC system during a cold winter morning.

“Permitted" mentioned in the listing description

Confirmation that major improvements (such as additions and ADUs) were done with permits and approved is a gift of peace of mind.

New roof

Protect against leaks during the rainy winter months, and enjoy silent, quiet nights unburdened with worry about needing to worry about a roof replacement for at least a couple of decades.

New windows

A single new window can cost $1,000, so if your home has all new windows it can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Dual-paned windows in your home can help with monthly energy savings, temperature control in your home as well as lessen street noise.

Recently painted

A new coat of paint not only prepares a home for a new owner with a nice refresh, but it also helps protect the bones of the house from weather and termites.

Solar panels

Having solar panels (especially if they are owned, rather than still rented) not only reduces energy costs (or even earns if you are able to sell back to the grid), but also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions - which is nice for everyone, including mother nature!

ZeroDown's Naughty/Nice List of Real Estate Listing Terms

The naughty list...

Missing information

If a listing is not a multi-family unit or a Tenancy-in-common and is missing square footage or even the number of bedrooms or bathrooms - that’s a red flag that there's potentially un-permitted spaces and work done on the property.

“Buyer to verify” in the listing description

Phrasing in the listing description (rather than disclosures) that a buyer should check on things themselves (usually in relation to permitting) is a warning sign that there’s some sort of catch.

Oddly low pricing

If only every seller used transparent pricing, a lot of time, effort, and heartbreak could be saved; sadly, a too-good-to-be-true price is just that, used to draw interest.


If the public records say a home has 3 beds and 2 baths, but the listing says it’s a 4/3, or they mention a new addition but the permit records have no mentions, you’ll want to investigate.

“Lived in” or “Well-loved” in the listing description

The nicest way of saying that the home is likely not updated (cosmetically or otherwise). Prepare to do some extra diligence when considering a home that uses these phrases.

“TLC” or “Great Opportunity” in the listing description

A nice way of saying the home needs work. Could be merely cosmetic or major work, so it would be best to get inspections if they don’t already have them. “Great Opportunity” could mean that you might be able to make a profit by fixing and flipping - so we guess this could be naughty or nice, depending on your view.

“Low maintenance yard”

Sometimes this is a nice way of saying the yard needs work because there’s been little to no maintenance to begin with.

ZeroDown's Naughty/Nice List of Real Estate Listing Terms

We aren't keeping a "naughty" list of homes, but we do have a "nice" list of the Best of the Bay. Check it out!

Looking to understand more real estate terms? Check out our glossary!

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