Decoding Real Estate Listing Lingo

Decoding Real Estate Listing Lingo

If you are buying or selling a home, the chances are good you struggle with the meaning of descriptive real estate terms. They can get confusing, we know! That’s why we decided to breakdown some popular lingo used in real estate listings.


“Dormer Window”


A window in an upstairs room that has a slanting ceiling which follows the slope of the roof. The window is in an upright position, but that causes it to stick up above the roof, so it gets its own little roof (usually a gable roof) that is tied into the main roof where they meet at right angles.


“Jack and Jill Bath”

A bathroom with two doors into it. It is frequently situated between two bedrooms with doors to each. Sometimes the doors are into a bedroom and into a hallway.

“Living Room” & “Family Room”

When a home has both a living room and a family room, we know which is which. It used to be that when an ad mentioned a family room, we could assume it also had a living room. Now some builders are building houses with something akin to the first use of “Great Room” above and calling it the “Family Room” on the floor plan. Thus houses and their terminology seem to be evolving. I suppose in the new builder speak we should just think of the room as an informal family living room.

“Open Floor Plan”

Describes a home in which rooms open out of each other and it’s possible to see from one room to another. Often entertaining rooms (living room, dining room, sun room, entrance foyer) are open to each other, and family living areas (kitchen, breakfast room, family room) are open to each other, while bedrooms have doors and open off a hall in a more traditional way.

“Split Bedroom Plan”

A term often used to describe a home (usually one level) with the master bedroom on one side of the living areas and the rest of the bedrooms on the opposite side.

split bedroom

“Patio” & “Terrace”

Both are outdoor living areas paved with something like slate or brick. A patio is level with the ground around it. A terrace has adjoining areas of ground which are higher, or lower, or perhaps both.

“Traditional Floor Plan”

Used to describe a home with rooms opening off a hall or halls. Each room can usually be closed off with a door.

“Solarium,” “Sun Room,” “Florida Room”


These terms are used to describe rooms with lots of windows (often on three sides). Many times these areas also have skylights. The choice of what to call them seems purely personal. They tend to be charming, bright, sunny places in which to over winter plants and sit in the garden in chilly or downright cold weather.

“Waterfront” vs. “Water View”

Waterfront property actually has a common boundary with (frontage on) the water. Sometimes the property line actually goes into the water. Water view just means water can be seen from the property. Sometimes there is a beautiful view. Sometimes it means the water can be seen from one upstairs window when the leaves are off the trees! Also, many times a new structure might block the view at some time in the future unless there is a protective covenant or something to prevent it.

If you can get the verbiage down, you’ll be way ahead in the real estate game. Look for future articles on this subject or visit our site to read more terms.

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