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Anatomy of a Home Listing

By Chase Cangelosi

Real estate is one of those industries where most of the knowledge is held with the professionals, and when you’re looking at listings online, sometimes certain terms aren’t very obvious. 

We’re going to take a tour through a Seattle home listing and translate each part of the listing description into layman’s terms … so you can read listings like a pro. 

Active: “Active” means this home is for sale without an accepted offer. You might also see “contingent,” which, in Seattle, means the seller is under contract with a sale contingency on the buyer’s side. Other buyers can offer during this period and, if the original buyer can’t remove the sale contingency within 48 hours, another buyer can essentially bump them out and get under contract. “Pending” means the home is under contract without a sale contingency. “Sold” means the sale has closed. 

Bed/Bath: This is one of the simpler ones: how many bedrooms and bathrooms exist. If you see a bathroom that says “.5 bath,” it means there’s a bathroom with only a toilet and sink. If you see a “.75 bath,” it means the bathroom has a standing shower with no tub. 

Ft2: Square feet. The larger the home, generally the more you pay for it. Here in Seattle (3/2020) the average price per square foot is $447. This is much more common to discuss in commercial real estate. When you look at the lot size, for reference, an acre is 43,560 square feet. 

HOA: This stands for “homeowners association” and lists the monthly fees to belong to the association.  If it’s a single-family home, chances are there won’t be an HOA, unless it’s a gated neighborhood with a community center, pool, garden, etc. If you’re looking at condominiums, there may be a high fee, mostly because you’re paying for building insurance, common areas, security, etc. 

Year Built: Simply, this is when the home was first built, not last renovated. If the home was built prior to 1978, you’re going to have the potential of lead-based paint in the home. Your agent and inspector will give you further info about that. 

Parking: This will include “attached” parking (garage/carport) and “off-street” parking (driveway). Having a garage increases the value of a home, but the number of spots (one car vs. two) doesn’t have much impact on the price. 

Days On Market: This is how long the home has been listed. If the home was once For Sale By Owner (FSBO), that counts too. If it was once listed by a discount brokerage before consulting another real estate brokerage, that counts too. In Seattle (3/2020) our average DOM is only 5. When the home has been for sale for longer than 60 days, buyers should take it as an opportunity to offer less than list price, because the seller may have a contingent offer on another home and want to make the deal happen. If it’s been on the market longer than 90 days, it’s a good chance to send a very discounted offer. 

Property Type: It will either be Single Family Home (SFH), Condominium, Townhouse, Multi Family, or Land. Some listing agents will include stories in the house, basements, etc. 

MLS: Stands for Multiple Listing Service. This is the property ID number. Makes it easy to type in the number into any search browser and see the property instantly pop up. 

Fun Facts: 
Photos – These are usually taken professionally, but if you buy the home, you do not own these photos. Some buyers want to list the home as a rental for tenants, Airbnb, VRBO, etc. but you are not allowed to use these photos without permission from the listing agent who commissioned the photographer. Usually if you call the listing agent after the sale is done, they’ll sell the photos to you at a heavy discount.  
Days On Market- Setting these back is as illegal (or more) as changing the odometer on a car before selling it. 

The rest of the listing details are pretty obvious. The main reason these details exist is for the sake of advanced search filters on home browsing websites. This info is all taken from the Seller’s Disclosure Statement. Sometimes sellers are incorrect. Have your inspector double check questionable statements. 

The other part of the listing that people often have questions about is the Financing Information, so let’s break this down: 

Form 17: The completed Seller’s Disclosure statement. It is the signed statement from the seller stating each of the details and facts about the property. 

Buyer’s Agent Commission: This is how much your real estate brokerage is getting paid. In most listings this will be 2.5-3%. In the new Northwest MLS rules (2019), the seller no longer has to pay the buyer’s agent. In most cases, the agent will still be paid by the seller. It will be stated here.  

Tax Year: The year reflected in the “taxes” amount. 

Status: As explained above, this will either be “active,” “contingent,” “pending,” or “sold.” 

Taxes: The amount of yearly taxes owed on the property. In King County, this is roughly 1% of your property’s assessed value, which comes from the county tax assessor, not from your sales price or actual market value. 

Apn: The Assessor’s Parcel Number, this is the identification number of the property in the legal description.

Possession: This is when you can move into the property. Almost all listings will state “Closing.” Most sellers don’t let buyers move in before the closing happens. 

Terms: Financing terms for purchasing. This property can be bought with a conventional loan, or cash, of course. 

Sale Type: MLS means the home is on the Multiple Listing Service for licensed agents to see. 

Offers: Either the seller will review the offers when they’re received (on receipt) or they will select a date to review all the offers at once. In hot markets, when sellers expect many offers on their properties, they will usually have an offer review date a week after listing, so it gives a chance for every serious buyer to tour the property and have their agent write an offer. 

Preliminary Title Ordered: The preliminary title report is a report documenting the current ownership, so ensuring it’s processed will ensure you can get title insurance. 

Hope these explanations clear up the terminology of a property listing. As always, your agent can answer any question you have, or give us a call and we can help iron it out! 


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