Did you know you can advertise a property by stringing together a bunch of words that have nothing to do with real estate? Luxurious lifestyle, heart of the city, unparallelled elegance...
See? You already know I’m about to try and sell you a condo. Here are the 5 most annoying cliches we see in property ads/listings and what they really mean.
Property Cliche #1: Luxury condo/luxury city living/luxury anything
We don’t want to point fingers, but there are a number of so-called luxury condos out there which are about as genuinely luxurious as an $8 wagyu steak from Astons.
Gone are the days when the word “luxury” used to be much more specific. Back then, when you see the term in a condo ad, you’d usually expect a price tag from $3 million onwards, or perhaps something near $3,000 per square foot (psf), or a penthouse unit overlooking Orchard road. The Prada of the property market, so to speak.
Today, just about anything in the city or city fringe gets billed as a “luxury” property. Even if the facilities are limited, the kitchen and dining areas are nearly non-existent and the common bedrooms are barely of habitable size, it can be billed as luxury.
There are even resale apartments pushing past 20 years of age, which were never marketed as luxury when they were new, now being labelled as such just because of hipster renovation, a new coat of paint or a new mall within walking distance.
So if you see the term “luxury” today, take it with a big spoonful of salt. It almost always just means it’s on the city fringe or in the city. It might actually be a luxury property, but don’t be too shocked if it instead turns out to be a walk-up aparment or a surburban condo with a glorious view of HDB flats next door.
Property Cliche #2: Nestled in XXX/private residential enclave
This is code for “if you can’t afford a car, don’t live here”.
It’s not as if a developer or agent can outright tell you that a property is ulu, since it against marketing principles. But anything in a “private residential enclave” is typically so far from the MRT station and key amenities, it will trigger flashbacks of your National Service route march.
Not only is getting to public transport a pain, getting things to come to you will also prove a constant headache. Private-hire drivers won’t pick up your requests, and food delivery will take ages. Your child’s school bus operator might even refuse to travel to your “enclave”.
This isn’t all bad if, again, you drive. But if you don’t have a car, or live with a family and have only one car, you’d better rethink these properties (or get used to living far away from civilisation).
(Tip: To save time finding a property within walking distance to an MRT station, use the ‘Search by MRT station’ feature on 99.co!)
Property Cliche #3: Lush greenery/garden living
This just means “landscaping”, and gets used when the copywriter runs out of things to shout about the property. The ‘nature park-ish’ greenery you had in mind might just turn out to be a couple of potted plants.
If you want to know whether a developer has really put effort into the landscaping, look for highly specific descriptions instead. That means phrases like “70% of plot space used for landscaped gardens”, or “15th storey sky garden with city view”. Those really legit ones, such as Jardin, Highline Residences and The Glades, would’ve won architectural awards for landscaping.
This is an example of what good landscaping looks like:
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You can tell when a developer haven’t really put much thought into the garden areas. This is when agents will resort to the generic “surrounded by lush greenery” description. A half-tended grass patch filled with weeds could be called lush greenery, in addition to also being a breeding site for mosquitos.
Property Cliche #4: Highly regarded developer/experienced developer
Can you imagine introducing yourself this way at a job interview? “Hi, I’m a highly regarded/experienced [insert job]”. If it strikes you as being cheesy, that’s because it is.
The point is: if you’re a developer and you have a great track record, then you probably don’t need these cheesy adjectives it in your description.
But just about every mention of a developer is preceded by these words. Buyers need more than that to know that the developer is indeed better than the rest.
A more reasonable description would state the developer’s past projects. They could write, for example, “this was the same developer behind projects XYZ”, which actually puts things into perspective and allow buyers to conduct their own research by visiting these past projects.
As for “experienced”, don’t assume that means the developers handled lot of similar projects. In some cases, the experienced developer might have built 20 properties, but that’s either in Malaysia/China, or a different property type such as HDB flats and Executive Condos.
Also, it could be a developer’s very first luxury condo project in Singapore, or their very first development with over 500 units.
[Recommend article: Laurel Tree and Sycamore Tree Developer Goes Bust]
Property Cliche #5: “Rare” anything
Rare freehold property. Rare prime region condo. Rare boutique development. Rare opportunity. There was a time when “rare” meant something like a jumbo flat, a conserved shop house, or some other property that only appears once in a blue moon. These days, it’s applied willy-nilly to highlight just about any feature.
The most common offender: rare freehold. We get that leasehold condos are more common that freehold; but rare freehold property is overstating things quite a bit. A fair number of condos in Singapore are actually sited on freehold land, and especially common in Districts 9, 10, 11, 15 and 17. Perhaps, the term “rare freehold” should only be used when referring to freehold properties in predominantly leasehold districts.
Other forms of “rare” get even more questionable. For instance, a home within walking distance of an MRT station was truly rare back in 1990, but the same can’t be said now.
So, while the word “rare” is a generic, cheap way to draw attention to a main selling point (e.g. rare property near Queenstown MRT), don’t take it too literally. Chances are there are at least a few other listed properties at any one time that has the same set of attributes.
Are you tired of hearing any other property marketing cliches? Let us know in the comments below!
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