Reading an apartment posting can be something like interpreting a menu. In restaurants, certain words appear again and again—“crispy,” “tender,” “seared” and “fresh”—giving you that funny, excited feeling in your belly. Then comes that other feeling, the disillusionment that washes over you when the entrée turns out to be a wilted, soggy, overcooked mess. The words seduced you; the food left you hungry—and a little sad.
The same can be said for real estate classified ads, where everything from square footage to roommate personality is presented to sound as appealing as possible and just as often turns out to be cramped, dingy or avocado green. To help you navigate the cryptic language of apartment ads, the Scene offers a crib sheet of the most overused, overhyped, misleading real estate clichés. Phrases in quotation marks are taken from actual local real estate listings. Take a deep breath and dig in.
APARTMENTS FOR RENT
Loft-style adj (synonyms: urban, city-style): not necessarily any relation to the original meanings of the word—(a) a large, usually unpartitioned floor over a factory, warehouse, or other commercial or industrial space, or (b) such a floor converted into an apartment or artist’s studio—but rather a buzzword for those seeking the great American yuppie dream. Often printed in tandem with promises of exposed brick and duct work, open floor plans, high ceilings and hardwood floors, e.g. “Exceptional one-bedroom loft located in historic building, hardwood floors, high ceilings,” “Brand new loft in trendy midtown location” or “Great exposed painted brick wall in the living room gives this wonderful home an urban, metro feel.” Note: especially prominent in dense neighborhoods where hipsters tend to congregate (East Nashville, downtown, Germantown, etc.).
Upscale adj (compare: elegant, stunning, charming, immaculate): does not, in fact, mean anything, except that it will be clean, possibly with a fresh coat of paint, e.g. “Brand-new condo in upscale building,” “New bathrooms, charming painted floors” or “Stunning boulevard entrance and monuments.” Note: beauty, charm and elegance are in the eye of the beholder.
Historic adj: term used to describe any area in which any of the homes were built before the end of the Cold War. Especially prevalent in neighborhoods that debate overlays; “historic area,” “historic bungalow,” “upscale historic in historic neighborhood.” Note: remember, there were people with bad taste back then too.
Unique adj (synonyms: one-of-a-kind, quirky): describing any rental property not in an apartment complex or subdivision, e.g. “This loft is located in the coolest and most unique residential building in downtown Nashville.” Note: places can be uniquely crappy. Apartments can have bathrooms without doors, windows that don’t open or really bad lime-green linoleum in the living room.
Cozy adj: small, e.g., “Cozy studio, great room for roommate-weary or goal-oriented minimalist!”
Trendy adj: notoriously tricky and subjective buzzword used to attract young renters. Beware, since it can imply a fleeting rejuvenation, hair gel and even an $8 cocktail or two, e.g. “Walk to trendy Hillsboro Village,” “Minutes from the trendy 5 Points area” or “Trendy and Brand-New!” Note: one poster referred to the new Wedgewood Park development at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Wedgewood as “the trendiest locale in Nashville.” Can’t think of anything hotter than a view of I-65, unless it’s the view of the U-Haul dealership on the other side.
Great location n: catchall term that also does not, in fact, mean anything. Note: for some, “close to the highway” is a plus; to others, “close to the mall” is just dandy. Adjacent to the dump? Super convenient! It also begs the question: what is a bad location?
Vibe n: an attempt to describe the general atmosphere you can expect in your new home, e.g. “Melrose Place vibe in the heart of West End.” Note: we’re assuming they’re talking about young people hanging out around a pool and sleeping with each other—both good—but do you really want your neighbors stealing your boyfriend or framing you for murder?
Young Professional n: someone, out of college or about that age (usually under 30), who does not lay bricks and has never been married.
Roomies n: cutesy synonym for roommate. Note: no one with a penis has ever used this word, so if you see it in an ad you can safely assume the gender of the poster. Likewise with excessive use of exclamation points (or really any use of them at all!!!) and those cutesy smiley-face things :-)
Fun-loving adj: nice way to say that you can expect partying and not Scrabble tournaments. Read: I’ll clean up your vomit on Sunday morning if you hold back my hair on Friday night.
Laid-back adj (synonyms: easygoing, low-key): prerequisite for every single roommate ad. Note: if everyone in the world were as laid-back as people in classified ads claim to be, there would be no need for psychotherapy. You know, I’m laid-back, aside from the voodoo and kiddie porn.