You know it, everybody knows it, but we all still get suckered in anyway. Take it with a pinch of salt when you see a property advertised as “accessible” to public transport, or a room for rent described as “cozy” with an “efficient kitchen” within the apartment unit.*




What it says: antique, original, retro, vintage
What it really means: Everything, from the coffee table to sofa to TV bench, looks just like it did back in the 1950’s when it was first built, which means that everything is at least 60 years old and in questionable condition.

retro expectations vs reality

What it says: modest, cozy, compact
What it really means: Have you seen Japanese capsule hotels or Hong Kong flats? Maybe Harry Potter’s bedroom under the stairs? That’s probably closer to what they mean by ‘cozy’ and ‘compact’. You’d be lucky to have space to open your closet door, or even have a closet in the bedroom.

cozy bedroom

What it says: ideal project, great potential, needs some work/attention
What it really means: When the description says ‘some’, it actually means ‘a lot’. Potential can also mean that the nearby area might have a chance of being developed with public transportation or residential/commercial properties in the near future, say 10 or 20 years.

needs tlc

What it says: custom, unique, interesting
What it really means: The previous owner had questionable taste in furniture and interior design. Maybe the previous owner really liked tartan print (hence the sofa, curtains, and even wallpaper), or perhaps had a penchant for creepy Balinese masks as wall art.


What it says: convenient, close to, accessible
What it really means: It’s only close or convenient if you don’t have to walk there. Public transport? The nearest LRT station is only 5 minutes away – by car. Need to get some groceries or food? The nearest convenience store is less than 200 meters away… across a major highway with no pedestrian bridge and 99% chance of being hit by a speeding vehicle if you attempt to cross the road.

short walk

What it says: private, quiet, secluded
What it really means: If you’re working from home or enjoy a life of being anti-social peace and quiet, this would be perfect. Otherwise, be prepared to stock up a month’s worth of food in your home, or drive 40 minutes to the nearest supermarket.

quiet and secluded

What it says: brand new, state-of-the-art
What it really means: Brand new is usually a good thing, as there are no previous tenants/owners to mess things up. However, keep in mind that not everything works as expected with new constructions and items. In addition, ‘state-of-the-art’ can mean that it looks modern and chic but has very little practical use.

state of the art

What it says: efficient kitchen
What it really means: A kitchen that has everything you need to chop, bake, cook, microwave, wash, and store without having to move your feet. Able to accommodate only the most basic cooking items and does not resemble small IKEA show kitchens.

efficient kitchen

What it says: recently vacated
What it really means: Maybe the previous tenant/owner moved to another house, or the person living there passed away. It’s probably not haunted, but ask your real estate agent about the reasons why it was vacated on short notice and if anything unfortunate had happened on the property before you make a decision.

not haunted for sale

What it says: waterfront
What it really means: There’s a rather large longkang or Indah Water in front of your house. If you’re lucky, you get a man-made lake or dirty river (e.g. Klang River). Very rarely you’ll get the sea-view of your dreams, unless you’ve bought one of those fancy new Southern Marina Residences in Nusajaya, which won’t be completed for a good couple of years.


*Disclaimer: This article is meant purely for humour; no offence intended to actual real estate agents and property advertisements. 

Movoto (link)
WiseGeek (link)