Saturday, February 09, 2008

blurble



An endless source of amusement is the blurbs written to sell very expensive properties in Vancouver. 1/153 is not too bad, but most are almost as terrible as the drunken-sailor photographs that represent 3/4 million dollar properties.

I have cherry-picked a few blurble lines below for example, and have added my own snarky, somewhat-drunken rejoinders.

All of these blurbles were for places listed at over $750k...

By-the-by: I am available to take decent photo's photographs, and write decent copy, for $150 per listing.

Public Killarney area. Covered sundeck over the single garage

Are they selling public land in the parks now? And, how can a covered deck be a sundeck (sic)?

Updated kitchens, hardwood on Main Floor, all original, granite countertops, 4 bathrooms.

All original but for the granite counter tops. That's great! 50 year old furnaces, single-paned windows and leaking roofs are all the rage. So are granite counter tops (still?).

Hard to find mortgage helper downstairs with 2 bedrooms and den and 1 and half baths. Covered sundeck.

Huh? Practically every listing has a mortgage helper or two. Trouble is, they don't help the mortgage nearly enough. And there is that covered sundeck (sic) again. Is that blurb-speak for a car-port?

same European Owner many years

Yeah, so? Does that mean that you paid $119k in 1976 and I can hammer you down to $220k?

High-ceiling unfinished basement.

Grow-Op Alert!

Owner spent over $70,000 in renovations.

And we want sextuple that back!

THIS IS NOT A DRIVE BY

So please don't! We had a drive-by last week.

Motivated Seller.

How motivated? 50% off list price?

& an entry door with a lock to make the house more secured.

That is a definite selling point! I can't tell you how many open houses I have been to that the door swung freely on its hinges!

new winds,

That's right. New winds. A hard wind's gonna blow.

Note: lower level suite rented for $750 per month. Price $769,000.00

So that's what? a more than 1000x multiplier? Investor alert!

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you expect people to pay you to write blurbs, shouldn't you know that there is NO apostrophe in the plural of photo?

solipsist said...

If you are going to be a grammar cop, should you not know that an apostrophe indicates contraction, as well as possession?

Photo's is a contraction of photographs.

sidelines said...

"Hard to find mortgage helper downstairs with 2 bedrooms and den and 1 and half baths."

That had me laughing... and thinking "is the mortgage helper hidden away somewhere, maybe only accessed by way of a maze??" I guess it must be very "secluded."

Drachen said...

Maybe it's hard to find in the sense of, "Yeah it's REALLY hard to find. Buy the house and we'll tell you how to find it."

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ later.

"Yeah, that mortgage helper is in your neighbour's house. We didn't actually say it CAME with the house. But it sure was hard to find wasn't it!"

M- said...

Solipsist: If "photo's" is the correct contraction of "photographs", then "photo' " would be the contraction of "photograph". Do you normally go take a photo' of a house?

"photo's" as a contraction is definitely non-standard, given that "photos" and "photo" have been commonly used for ages. Photo' is *technically* correct, but it's so unusual that it raises eyebrows. Photo, since it has been used that way so long, is also correct.

solipsist said...

Do you normally go take a photo'...?

Yes, I do.

I don't want to turn this into a discussion on semantics. The anonymous poster wrote that I was incorrect when I was not. That is the issue.

I tend towards formal writing, as opposed to informal. That may seem ungainly to a lot of people, but I am a writer, and that is what I learned.

I never call people out for the terrible writing that I read every day. If some anonymous person has the audacity to say I am wrong when I am not (because they have nothing else to contribute), I will set them straight.

I am wrong about a lot of things, but not in my use of language.

patriotz said...

Solipsist: If "photo's" is the correct contraction of "photographs", then "photo' " would be the contraction of "photograph".

Wrong. The apostrophe only occurs between letters, not at the end.

For example, FB = f#cked buyer. But the plural is FB's.

But if an abbreviation becomes accepted as a word in itself without reference to the original form, we can do without the apostrophe. Such as condo, condos.

By the way, the reason we use an apostrophe for possession is that the original suffix was "es". IE it's really a contraction. That's why we have "its" because it was always spelled that way although it's a possessive.

M- said...

Not to detract from your writing, which I think is excellent and which I greatly enjoy reading, but just on the minor point of "photo's"...

I just got back from dinner with my parents-- my mom's and English lit teacher, my dad's a retired ESL teacher. Both were forcefully clear that "photos" is an abbreviation rather than a contraction, and for that purpose it is incorrect to use an apostrophe. The conversation then turned towards incorrect usage of apostrophes in grocery stores, and a debate on American vs. British vs. Canadian English. Correct usage of apostrophes are a subject my mom cares greatly about. We've had a number of dinner conversations turn to apostrophe usage before...

solipsist said...

Well, I stand corrected. Thanks patriotz and m-.

I have had a feeling all evening that I would be caught out as an erroneous pedant, and I have.

I can only laugh at myself. Grin.

/sheepish

solipsist said...

And apologies to anon.

I'll try to not be a cranky old fart anymore.

Scullboy said...

Just out of curiousity, would the correct plural of condominium be condominia?

And for those of you with grammar buff friends/relations, ask them this question:

"Is it correct to say 'seven and three *is* eleven' or 'seven and three *are* eleven?

After they've responsed you can tell them "Actually seven and three ARE ten"

It gets them every single time....

Panda said...

"Is it correct to say 'seven and three *is* eleven' or 'seven and three *are* eleven? After they've responsed you can tell them "Actually seven and three ARE ten"


111&011=011

so 7 and 3 is 3. Sorry couldn't help myself...

jesse said...

Apostrophe Protection Society

Pluralising words generally do NOT require apostrophes. It drives English teachers insane. Or, alternatively, it drives English teachers' insanity.

"Is it correct to say 'seven and three *is* eleven' or 'seven and three *are* eleven? "

The addition of seven and three is eleven. "The addition of" is implied. And yes, proper grammar is not an indication of accuracy of fact.

Back to the subject, grammar is important for these types of ads if your clientele is well educated or at least well read. If you can't spell or use grammar properly, I have little faith you can properly write a contract.

fastso said...

hmm,
Our favourite green monster V682205 has reduced from 825K to 799K to 775K.

50K is gone! (To some the 50K represents a new BMW, to many other working people, that is their annual take home pay, or a university educaiton for their kids.)

Do you people think the owner can walk away break even?

Aleks said...

"Just out of curiousity, would the correct plural of condominium be condominia?"

Condomania!

M- said...

My wife will attest that my favourite expression as we drive past construction site after construction site is "condos, condos, condos!"

solipsist said...

Thanks for all of your contributions.

I am convinced that I am a pedant, but still not 100% sure that "photo's" is incorrect.

"Photo" may be an accepted abbreviation, and thus, "photos" would be correct, but to me, "photo's" is a contraction of "photographs", in which case, my apostrophe use is correct (not meant to indicate plurality - the "s" does that). It seems awkward, but really may be just a matter of style.

(Later - I had to go deal with the little gaffer)

Blah, blah blah.

Anyhow, I've always been a bit stuck-up about language and grammar, and so tried to find the answer. I just don't have time, but I did find something that sums up my view -

Okay, look. I'm a grammar snob. If you want to be able to communicate with others, you need to wrap that communication up in an easily digested package. You need to pay considerable attention to the form and structure of what you're saying as well as the content. Careless use of language instills in the reader a lack of confidence in the writer.

The great thing is, the page that this quote came from is riddled with errors.

English is a complicated languqage, and I find that I need to look up elements of style and grammar all the time. There are lots of things that seem self-evident, but there are land mines all over the place.

The funny thing is that I contracted "photographs" to "photo's" to save typing five letters, and have ended up typing hundreds of words (and so have you all).

From now on, I will type whole words.

scullboy - I think that it would be condomania

How to contract "refrigerator"? 'frig'? Frig it - I'll take the abbreviation.

Being that I am a bit of a fogey, I write 'phone as a contraction too.

"Actually seven and three ARE ten"

I thought seven and three are numbers. Grin.

solipsist said...

aleks - you beat me to it.

m- do you ever wonder at those condos' features?

fastso - hard to say, but I have no doubt that they are getting the worries.

M- said...

Features? Aren't they all luxury condos?

Anonymous said...

This is the worst real estate blog thread ever! Go ahead and correct my grammar. Also, get a life.

Billy TwoBaulz said...


I am convinced that I am a pedant, but still not 100% sure that "photo's" is incorrect.


I have to add my voice to the chorus saying that "photo's" is incorrect. FWIW, I've spent years in proofreading and editing, as well as simply reading a lot, and I've never seen "photo's" used. I'd be willing to stake a big bet that it is just plain incorrect. Sorry to add to the rants on this, but I think it's important to establish that such an awkward construction is indeed wrong.

If you're still not convinced, simply consult http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/photos and http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/photos (for example). Those links have the plural as "photos", with no allowance for the form "photo's".

By the by, I can't say that "DVD's" is correct either. Certainly an apostrophe is used to contract a phrase such as "do not" to "don't", but you wouldn't use an apostrophe in the same way with DVD or CIA, or you would get "D'V'D'" and "C'I'A'". Thus I also reject the earlier assertion that the plural of F*cked Buyers is "FB's". Rather, I would type FBs. There seems to be some room for negotiation here though, as Wikihow has:


An exception can also be made for numbers and abbreviations, although some consider this old fashioned, illogical and unnecessary.


"I bought many CD's in the 1990's." Correct.
"I bought many CDs in the 1990s." Also correct and more modern.



Also see http://www.usingenglish.com/poll/85.html

and the section "Representing plurals and possessives" on the page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym

Tony Danza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Danza said...

Anonymous said...

This is the worst real estate blog thread ever! Go ahead and correct my grammar. Also, get a life.

Feel free to write your own blog. Good Riddance!

Scullboy said...

Anonymous:

We may as well site around discussing grammar.

What has been left unsaid about the Vancouver real estate market? Both sides have made just about every argument that can be made.

jesse said...

"50K is gone! (To some the 50K represents a new BMW, to many other working people, that is their annual take home pay, or a university educaiton for their kids.)"

The great conundrum for many is looking at an investment as a percentage or an absolute gain. I have seen, first-hand, half million dollar deals fall through with only a few $K difference in asking/offered prices. As a profit it was still hundreds of thousands in the black but that extra $2000 pays for a nice leather jacket.

"Photo's" is incorrect, for the record. Sorry to break it to you.

solipsist said...

OK. I give up.

The funny thing about hubris is that it is difficult to see when oneself is full of it. I am beginning to have suspicions of myself.

What has been left unsaid about the Vancouver real estate market? Both sides have made just about every argument that can be made.

I agree. I just keep hanging in here with hopes of commenting on the carnage. I have been thinking of packing it in - mostly because I don't have time to put a decent effort in (the little fella takes a lot of my time now), but I would miss it.

Good point Jesse. I wonder if some asking prices are dropping not because of low-ball offers, but because of no offers.

The builders have most probably made tons of money, and are better able to absorb some losses. It's the paint-and-flip crowd that is going to get really hurt, I think.

It will be interesting to see what the next year brings.

fastso said...

"As a profit it was still hundreds of thousands in the black but that extra $2000 pays for a nice leather jacket."

Making 50K *less* is ture regardless s/he is making "hundreds of thousands".

Not sure where is the conundrum.
Please explain.

jesse said...

"Not sure where is the conundrum."

The issue is perception of gain. A gain of $100K or $102K is 2% difference. It seems silly to risk a large gain now for a small increase in total return and risk of not making a deal at all.

In a "RE only goes up" bubble market the perceived price volatility is low and the perceived liquidity of the asset is high. There will be other buyers in the near future that will pay the desired price so it is worth holding out for the last $1000.

Contrast to an equity stock where any given day could vault or plummet the price by several % (or worse). Here there is less incentive to hold out on price unless you are speculating.

In RE, if the conditions change towards more volatility and less liquidity, there is less incentive to be stiff on price. Initially the game of "chicken" regiments stiff pricing but eventually things soften up if buyers do not appear. I think it's not just people that need to sell that set the market; it's a change in attitude as a lack of liquidity sews the seeds of doubt of the real price. If offers are so infrequent there will be much less incentive to let a few % of the total gain jeopardise any gain at all.

fastso said...

jess,

"a lack of liquidity sews the seeds of doubt of the real price"

Points well taken.

In our green monstor situation, it is on the market for 9mo(?) Would you consider that is a sign of lack of liquidity in real estate terms.

solipsist said...

In our green monstor situation, it is on the market for 9mo(?)

I have "done the math" on this one to the best of my ability (limited information). It replaced a house that was listed at $550k. The market was hot at the time, so the original would have sold between $500k and $600k. Reasonable assumption?

2,000-odd square feet of construction at a low price of $100/sq. ft. brings it up to at least $700k. Add in PTT, property taxes for a year and a half, commissions, interest on loans, and opportunity cost on the capital outlay, and things start to look dodgy.

M- said...

...And even though the developer's profit is starting to look pretty questionable, they'll probably still have to drop the house further, because I doubt many people would proudly tell their friends and neighbours "yup, that's me. I live in the eyebrows house. Yes, I know it looks hideous. ...Yes, I know.."

solipsist said...

I just can't let this one go... The thread is going to die at any time.

"One more thing. The seventh comment above? The one stating that it's okay to write "photos" as "photo's"? Also wrong. The article's author IS right in this case."

Actually, that comment is completely correct. "Photos" is valid as "Photo" is a word on its own, but "Photo's" is equally valid because it's a contraction of the word "Photographs". Both variations are completely acceptable.


I find differing opinions everywhere I look. I would go with the Oxford English Dictionary before I would go with Mirriam-Webster though. I have an electronic OED, but I am too lazy/busy to load it on my machine and check.

Being that I was writing a contraction, and not a pluralisation of an abbreviation, I was correct. It's one of those to-may-to/to-mah-to things.

I do however, defeat my intent to write formally, as contractions are considered to be informal.

----->

I just proof-read, and saw your latest comment m- (it made me laugh), and I agree on further drops in price.

I think that there will be a loss on the eyebrows and range-hood.

patriotz said...

Would you consider that is a sign of lack of liquidity in real estate terms.

No, I would consider that a sign of an asking price that is obviously above market.

Major RE markets are always liquid. A property priced at market WILL SELL within a couple of months.A property priced a few % below market will sell in a couple of weeks.

You only have a liquidity issue with unusual properties that have a limited market share. You can also have a liquidity issue in small towns where houses simply don't sell very often.

But for commodity houses in any major city, no way.

jesse said...

"Major RE markets are always liquid."

Agreed. Though in practice there is self-imposed illiquidity manifesting itself as sticky prices. My point was that volatile markets mean disagreement on price and with fewer comparable sales to base a "market price" the focus becomes "getting the deal done" over "arguing over pennies".

Anonymous said...

i thought plural of condominium was condoms

Anonymous said...

hahaa..

I kind of like this blog. Nice and easygoing.

Well, just maybe this is the turning point . Could it be a contrarian indicator that the bears here have given up waiting and are relegated to picking on each others' (GAWD I hope I got that right) grammar?

Could happen when you least expect it.

I see that Coventree will be closing down business. Can't be a good sign.

Sign me,

Poor and Unknown.

solipsist said...

No, I would consider that a sign of an asking price that is obviously above market.

Sadly for them, if they had priced at 775k 9 months ago, it probably would have sold.

the focus becomes "getting the deal done" over "arguing over pennies

But what about when it is not a few pennies, but tens of thousands (or more) of dollars? People do start thinking in terms of BMW or Lamborghini never to be realized at those amounts.

I'll bet a broken tricycle that the green monster/eyebrow house will have a price tag of 550k before five years is up.

Nice and easygoing.

Shucks. I listen to a lot of reggae and jazz. And stuff.

Sometimes I feel like the paparazzi, listening to a scanner, waitng for a wreck.

Since CMHC got into the faulty air-bag business (there haven't yet been many fatalities, but road conditions are deteriorating - so are the vehicles), it has been kind of quiet, but I hear breaking glass in the near distance.

Billy TwoBaulz said...


I find differing opinions everywhere I look. I would go with the Oxford English Dictionary before I would go with Mirriam-Webster though. I have an electronic OED, but I am too lazy/busy to load it on my machine and check.

Being that I was writing a contraction, and not a pluralisation of an abbreviation, I was correct. It's one of those to-may-to/to-mah-to things.

I do however, defeat my intent to write formally, as contractions are considered to be informal.


May as well get back on the grammar front...I have to insist that this is not a to-may-to to-mah-to issue. Pronunciations can differ, but spelling is hard and fast. We can't make up novel ways of writing the English language and claim they're correct because they roughly follow rules used in other circumstances.

Unless you can post a link to a recognized English dictionary that contains the form "photo's" as the plural of "photo", you must admit it is just a malapropism. And I agree, the Merriam-Webster is not as posh as the OED, but this doesn't mean you can ignore the Merriam-Webster in favour of your own neologisms.

solipsist said...

billy - this is getting tiresome.

Using an apostrophe to indicate a contraction of photographs is hardly a malapropism, or a neologism - and yes, I know what both of those words mean, and I am afraid that you have misused both in this case.

It is not incumbent upon me to prove that I am right, it is incumbent upon my detractors to prove me wrong.

All style guides that I have come across state;

APOSTROPHE -
is the mark of punctuation (’) used (1) to indicate a missing letter or letters, as in contractions
link

And Dictionary.com Has a reference to "photo's", in which they revert to the American Heritage Dictionary's "photos" - an American spelling.

It should be noted that Webter's says that "Hallowe'en" is wrong, and is properly "Halloween". Look that up in OED, and tell them that they are wrong. Just because styles fall out of use, does not make them incorrect.

I tried to load my digital OED, but the files are corrupted. When Li'l solipsist wakes up from his nap, I am going to the library with him to look at their OED.

Nobody has proved me wrong, so I am right. That is logic.

With all due respect to m-'s parents, I have often heard teachers, and other professionals, misuse language - i.e. "there's six reasons not to do that", instead of "there are six reasons not to do that". One only needs 51% to pass any course (including doctors!), so I cannot accept the views of an unknown quantity.

Both of my parents were educators - my father a school pricipal with a Master's Degree from York, my mother with a Master's from U of T, and both had continuing studies at OISE, and they agree with me. My Grandma was also a teacher, and I almost became one myself.

Let us let this thread die - unless anyone can definitively prove me wrong. I have undertaken not to use archaic, or nebulous contractions here any more. Is that not satisfactory?

solipsist said...

Actually, my father was a school principal

I did not proof-read before posting...

M- said...

I'd argue that "photos" is an abbreviation, rather than a contraction.

...And that dictionary.com reference doesn't indicate "photo's" to be acceptable, it brings up the definition of "photo", with the plural "photos".

solipsist said...

I'd argue that "photos" is an abbreviation, rather than a contraction.

And I would totally agree with you.

But, would you agree that an apostrophe can indicate possession, plural (as in The 70's) or, contraction (missing letters)?

I found out that VPL has a subscription to OED online, and tried to access it, but there is a glitch on the VPL end, so I called the library, and they did a search for me. There is no reference in definitions (they have "photo" in a first written reference - 1860 by Queen Victoria, and "photos" first written in 1861 by someone else), and the librarian did not access the style guides. I will do so when the glitch is fixed.

Do a Google search for "photo's" and there are many instances - i.e. - it is not uncommon. Since common usage is what makes something "correct", or not in the English language, I can only say that in conjunction with apostrophe usage to indicate missing letters, I am not wholly wrong.

My wife's comment about all of this is that we all should "get a life". I concur. It is just weird how this one small distinction has drawn so much band-width, and time.

Bah!