June 03, 2004

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About La Jolla Real Estate

Every now and then I pick up one of those thick, heavy, glossy Dream Homes magazines that specialize is incredibly overpriced La Jolla, Del Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe homes. I read it mainly because of a lifelong fascination with architecture and design. But I also like to see what kinds of hyperbole the realtors are using this month.

What follows is a handy guide to translating La Jolla Realtorspeak into ordinary English (For those unfamiliar with the term, "scrape" means demolish or tear down; "scraper" means a house not worth remodeling. I first heard the term "scrape" used by a La Jolla realtor years ago.)

storybook setting --- definitely a scraper, but even scraping won't get rid of the neighbors' noisy kids

corner lot --- stunning, forever views of traffic violations

whimsical --- stinks of cats

remodeled --- couldn't afford to scrape the whole thing

charming --- rooms are tiny; 70-year old bathrooms

charmer --- see charming

storybook charmer --- all scraping will do is let you really see how small the lot is

absolutely charming --- city wouldn't permit a house to be built on such a tiny lot today.

all the charm of Old La Jolla --- great if you don't mind a) alleys, b) high-voltage power lines six feet from the bedroom window; c) tiny rooms

Old World charm --- see all the charm of Old La Jolla

price available on request --- if you have to ask, you can't afford it

cozy --- tiny, designed for hobbits

modern yet cozy --- perfect for those who imagine living on a small yacht

mountaintop villa --- pray we don't have another fire

light and airy --- noise from leafblowers during the day; major skunk situation during the night

huge lot --- mostly unusuable or condemned by the geologists

price reduced --- desperate to sell

new listing! --- just relisted after 91 days to fool the MLS!

gated --- frequent homeless / solicitor problems

fully gated --- constant homeless / solicitor problems

country living at its finest --- no DSL, cable TV iffy

location, location, location! --- lousy location

in the heart of the Village --- alley stinks of trash; what was that noise?

ideal for horses --- not humans

walk to shops, restaurants --- take the bus everywhere else, because parking's a bitch

swimming pool --- forget about doing laps

lap pool -- forget about swimming

community pool --- exhorbitant assessment fees; strong urine presence in water

vanishing-edge pool --- lot wasn't big enough for full-sized pool

infinity pool --- see vanishing-edge pool

bonus room --- don't tell the city, as there aren't any permits

shuffleboard court --- for when you miss your QE2 stateroom

hardwood floors --- in all the places you'd prefer carpeting

lush carpeting --- in all the places you'd prefer hardwood floors

build to suit --- sue to build

[any adjective] estate --- designed for old people

black-bottom pool --- conceals all the dead bugs, frogs, and leaves

Casa de [insert fancy Spanish plural noun] --- high maintenance home, expect to pay 4 servants with questionable INS clearances to run the place

usable lot --- no rake needed, just a broom

oversized lot --- house barely fits on lot

sought-after location --- sought after you scrape the place

backyard perfect for playing --- noisy neighbors

unsurpassed beach living --- really obnoxious neighbors

newly carpeted --- no lasting evidence of crime scene

newly painted --- in your least favorite color

perfect for entertaining --- as are all your neighbors' houses; you'll never sleep

unique Village property --- no parking

granite kitchen --- pretend you're Wilma Flintstone

Private Oasis --- constant plumbing and heating problems

classic 60's home --- nobody's bothered to scrape, the location is just too depressing

Olde [any proper noun] --- expensive

timeless beauty --- even the roaches are 50 years old

endless potential --- scrape it, sell it, let someone else build it

epitome of urban modern living --- high noise, high fees, high security, high surveillance, all that for what exactly?

endless opportunities --- see endless potential

well-maintained --- sellers did their own plumbing, heating, electrical work; buyer beware

exceptionally well-maintained --- sellers paid fly-by-night contractors to do the plumbing, heating, electrical work; buyer beware

ultra-contemporary --- no matter how much you spend on repairs, the roof continues to leak

garden of eden --- plentiful assortment of ants, roaches, and spiders

architecturally pleasing --- obstructed views, so entertain guests with the weird floorplan

renowned architect --- quirky, eccentric idiosyncracies throughout that will drive you mad

lovely downtown views --- beyond the power lines and telephone poles you can just make out some hazy semblance of a skyline

separate guest quarters --- great when mom and dad aren't talking anymore

Cape Cod-style --- frumpy, old-fashioned, ought to be scraped

expansive views --- way overpriced

complete with picket fence --- recently fumigated

whitewater views --- see and hear military helicopters up close

vintage La Jolla --- total scraper; you're a fool if you don't tear it down and start over

pride of ownership --- scrape it and start over ASAP

quiet elegance --- boring, generic extravagance, as opposed to something really unusual

pampered perfection ---see whimsical

gated entry --- lots of homeless and solicitors

mountaintop getaway --- no DSL or cable TV

direct oceanfront --- high-maintenance, moldy, drafty, and cold

completely furnished --- DEA foreclosure, must sell quickly

delightful cottage --- great if you're rich, deaf, and can't walk

one look says it all --- don't look

parklike setting --- no view; creepy neighbors; lots of skunks

fairytale home --- features rodents of unusual size

eat-in kitchen --- dining room's so ugly nobody wants to eat there

gourmet kitchen --- expensive, imported stainless steel appliances with features you'll never use because the manuals are all in German

wine cellar --- house smells of mildew

spacious --- small

large --- medium

huge --- not quite big enough

fountain --- rarely works; attracts animals

immaculate --- stains, cigarette burns in the carpet; toilet looks fine but don't dare flush it

bedrooms adorned with trompe l'oeil --- custom artwork by painters of Elvis-on-velvet paintings

Sub-Zero fridge --- it was either that or a pantry, so, no pantry

abundant fruit-bearing trees --- get used to Malathion

truly one of a kind --- only house at this address

high-tech "smart home" --- house is never dark at night, thanks to the 24/7 blue glow of digital clocks everywhere, all blinking "12:00"

steps to Village --- Be mindful of the crosswalks and watch out for the drivers and bicyclists running the red lights.

historic --- ought to be scraped, but the paperwork's gonna be hell

beachfront access --- finest raw sewage odor in town

paradise --- make sure to add in the $2400/yr in gardener's fees to maintain

resort living --- long drive to the grocery store

stunning masterpiece --- grotesquely overbuilt, with a price to match

dramatically perched --- house on stilts; pray we don't have a quake, fire, or strong wind

private lake --- don't empty it; you might not like what you find.

romantic --- interior design uses a lot of fabrics; start investing in HEPA filters

Tuscan [noun]; Tuscany --- hot as hell; expect huge A/C bill

land, land, land! --- see endless potential

built-in outdoor barbecue --- needs to be rebuilt unless you like rust in your food

sparkling bay views --- at least when the neighbor's RV isn't parked in their driveway

move-in condition --- needs extensive fumigation, painting, carpet cleaning

exceptional craftsmanship --- Louis the XIV would feel right at home. Will you?

gated community entrance --- your movements monitored 24/7 by moonlighting rent-a-cops

fabulous --- you'll spend a fortune undoing the ugly interior design

desirable area --- the truly wealthy wouldn't be caught dead living here

exudes elegance --- great if you're into mortuaries

dramatic views --- watch your neighbors feeding and fighting

spectaular ocean views --- until next January, when construction of that 30-ft-high monstrosity across the street is completed

forever views --- if you squint all day and night you might eventually see something interesting

elevator --- never works; steep stairs

peaceful setting --- high crime area

extensively renovated in [fib about the year] --- tenting wasn't enough to get rid of the termites

filled with surprises --- hard to find where anything is, including light switches

fit for a general --- ideal for banana republic dictators in exile

enormous marble master bath --- huge water bill

carefree living --- very high maintenance fees

circular driveway --- plenty of parking for the repair trucks

spectacular sunsets --- house overheats terribly every afternoon

1-car garage --- ideal for that Model T you bought back during the Great War

2-car garage --- wide enough but not long enough to fit the Hummer

3-car garage --- it'd fit the Hummer except there are three separate garage doors, so forget it

steps to ocean --- noisy skateboarders at all hours of the night

Bird Rock Gem --- lot so small, you can reach through your window to neighbor's kitchen when you need to borrow the ketchup

Lower Hermosa Jewel --- so close to your neighbor, you can hear their toilet flush

traditional home --- tiny bedrooms stink of cat urine

highly desirable --- half the houses in the neighborhood are for sale, something's wrong

lavishly designed --- abusrdly overdone production inside; Liberaci's spinning in his grave

built-in entertainment center --- no place to put your bigscreen TV because it won't fit

easy access to freeway --- noisy

canyon view --- coyotes howling all night long; rodents of unusual size; skunks galore

beach living without the crowd --- but with the rats

reflecting pond --- mosquito problem

vaulted ceilings --- leaky roofs

such a pleasure to show! --- Agent lives nearby, will be pestering you for years to come

beautiful English gardens --- major snail problem

brand new --- 1-2 years old

new --- 2-10 years old

like new --- 5-15 years old

newer --- it was "new" several years ago

large master bedroom --- other bedrooms aren't big enough for infants

jacuzzi bath --- leaks right down to the foundation, but you don't know about it yet

glass-walled --- no privacy, plus the additional $1000/yr to keep them clean, including scraping off the remains of the occasional bird collision

sellers will entertain offers between $X and $Y --- real value of the house is X minus twice the difference between Y and X, or X-2(Y-X). Example: "Sellers will entertain offers between $2,800,000 and $3,199,876" means you're a fool if you pay a dollar more than $2,000,248.

Posted by brian at June 3, 2004 07:15 PM


perfectly situated - on an earthquake fault

Posted by: jim h at June 8, 2004 07:10 AM

Vanishing Edge Pools:

With the water flowing on all sides, these pools hold the viewer’s eye, rather than draw the eye to the horizon. This makes total-perimeter vanishing-edge pools particularly well-suited to yards without a spectacular vista.


Posted by: Sam Walker at June 10, 2004 12:25 PM

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