Reading real estate listings can feel a bit like trying to crack a secret code. Random letters—some all-caps and others not—are smashed together into the tiniest of spaces. Sometimes, a number appears. On occasion, you’ll come across an entire “sentence” that contains not a single vowel. You try to sound things out, hoping a light bulb will go on. But what in the world could “spac f/fin bsmt w/ HWF, fplc”* possibly mean? As if the home-buying process weren’t enough of a mystery!
Real Estate agents use dozens of acronyms and abbreviations. Here are several you’ll see frequently.
Acronyms Related to the Business of Real Estate
BOM (Back on Market) Listings include BOM when a previous sales contract fell through. This isn’t necessarily a red flag. Before skipping over a BOM listing that’s otherwise interesting, see if you can find out what happened. In fact, sellers with a BOM property may be particularly motivated to make a deal.
CMA (Comparative or Competitive Market Analysis) This report compares a property’s value to similar homes recently sold in the same community. The CMA gives good context for setting a sales price or negotiating a purchase price.
EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) Buyers give sellers earnest money to demonstrate their commitment to developing a contract. These deposits are refundable under certain contingency agreements.
FSBO (For Sale by Owner) Some homeowners will opt out of listing with a Realtor, thinking they’ll save money and time. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of taking this approach, especially from a liability standpoint.
MLS (Multiple Listing Service) MLS is an organization to which real estate brokers belong. Brokers add their for-sale listings to the service, and MLS then distributes the information to real estate professionals. Agents can search MLS by geographic location, property type, and specific home features, and then export data for buyers to review.
Real Estate Abbreviations Used to Describe Property
3B/2B (3 Bedroom/2 Bathroom) Make sure you have a clear understanding of how bedroom and bathroom are defined. Usually, a bedroom contains a window and closet, but in some locations there are additional requirements (such as egress windows in a basement). Full bathrooms have a toilet, sink, and bathtub and/or shower. Three-quarter baths have a toilet, sink, and shower. Half-baths (or Pwdr Rm) include only a toilet and sink.
CPT (Carpet) Listings may not mention CPT unless it’s been recently replaced. However, more desirable hardwood flooring will almost always be called out (HDW, HWF, Hdwd).
CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) Homeowners’ associations will have a set of CC&Rs that apply to the property—regardless of who owns it. It’s a good idea to review CC&Rs before making a final decision on a purchase.
Dk (Deck) If you’re lucky, it’s a deck with private (Pvt) views (vw, vu, vws, vus).
EIK (Eat-In Kitchen) Eat-in kitchens may be configured with a counter and stools, or they may be large enough to accommodate a dining table and chairs. Some listings will include both and EIK and a formal dining room (FDR).
FPLC (Fireplace) Also known as FP or frplc. Fireplaces can be gas (gas fplc) or wood-burning (wb fplc).
Gar (Garage) Some descriptions will be more specific, such as G/A (garage, attached), det. gar (detached garage) or GAROP (garage door with opener)
LL/UL (Lower Level/Upper Level) Usually, you’ll see UL (or Upr) accompanying a description of bedrooms and bathroooms. LL is a fancy way of saying “basement,” and it’s most often called out if it’s finished (FIN LL).
LR (Living Room) You might also see “Liv.” If it’s an open floor plan, you’ll more than likely see “Grt.” for Great Room.
Pot’l (Potential) Ask the listing agent about this one. It could refer to an opportunity for expansion, such as for a home office (pot’l ofc). But, it could also be a more gentle way of saying the place is in need of a lot of work, i.e., it’s a fixer-upper (or FXR).
That covers the basics. Hopefully you’ll feel a little more confident reading through potential listings now! If you happen to come across other unfamiliar jargon, ask your real estate professional for help. You won’t be the first person to ask what “pl” means (Swimming pool. Otherwise known as “sp” or “s/p.”).
*spacious, fully furnished basement with hardwood floors and fireplace