Learn the Latest Real Estate Buzzwords Before You List Your Home

By Jacqueline Shannon

SEATTLE (Zillow) — Winter is considered “off season” in the real estate world, but that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t still out there. Even in December, when everybody was busy racing around to get ready for the holidays, the number of home sales — including existing homes, foreclosure resales and new home sales — was 8.7% higher than in the same month in 2011.

One way to make your home stand out from others during the winter doldrums is to choose words that jump out at potential homebuyers when they’re searching through real estate listings.

Desirable features vary depending on price and city, but there are a few universally golden terms at the moment. Daniel Beer, a real estate agent and marketing expert in San Diego, says “open floorplan” and “downstairs master” are popular features everywhere.

“A downstairs master bedroom has long been standard in luxury homes,” Beer said. “But now that requirement has moved down into the middle market, and homebuilders are responding.” He says this is especially true among aging baby boomers, who are focusing on smaller homes with fewer levels and fewer, if any, stairs.

Similarly, the “walkability” of a neighborhood is rising in stature. Green terms such as “solar” and “energy efficient” are red hot. “Low HOA fee” continues to be a popular term in listings all over the U.S. because an estimated 63.4 million — and counting — Americans live under the governance of homeowners associations.

On a more local level, the term “No Mello-Roos” is a welcome phrase in California because it means a particular property is not subject to a special property tax that’s often levied in newer communities to pay for parks, roads and other infrastructure. In coastal Southern California, “new construction” jumps out because there is so little of it, yet demand is strong.