Estatoranto – a language necessary for repatriation

To continue our new repatriation series of articles, I decided to investigate the property market back home in Blighty. Working on the assumption that people might wish to rent at first rather than leap into buying immediately upon arriving (after all, repatriation can be shockingly expensive), I had a good look at the rentals market.

Unsurprisingly, rents had increased a bit over the last few years but nothing worrying, and indeed many properties for rent seemed more affordable than I had expected. We’ll go into the actual costs of rents, fees, deposits, and other expenses in a later article. For now I wanted to write about the strange language spoken by many letting agents.

We all know how estate agents are masters of euphemism. For ‘quaint’ read ‘old and shabby’. ‘Secluded’ or ‘peaceful residential area’ seems to mean ‘in the middle of nowhere and miles from public transport and shops’. What I hadn’t expected was the frequent sheer inability to communicate simple information in a coherent manner. (By the way, communication and information is the subject of the editorial in our email newsletter this month. Are you signed up for it? It’s free.)

In some cases the property description seemed as though it was compiled from a set of stock phrases. I could imagine someone in the office yelling to the junior, ‘List as a five!’ and the property photo(s) duly uploaded with the same description as every other property with remotely similar attributes. (Sometimes with the same photos.) That’s bad enough, but perhaps understandable in these days where automation rules. What was mind-blowing was the appalling spelling, grammar and style which were so prevalent in the ‘Properties to let’ listings.

Here are a few choice examples.

Toilet troubles

Describing the plumbing facilities seemed to pose particular problems.

Ground floor comprises of double bedroom offering access out onto the well maintained communal grounds and bathroom suite.

I dunno about you, but I don’t really fancy a communal bath in the gardens. And is it only a bathroom suite, or does it include infrastructure such as walls too?

There is a separate toilet downstairs including wash basin which is usually essential in a house of this dimension.

I see. So people who live in smaller houses don’t need to wash their hands after using the toilet?

11 ⁄ 10 for effort

And then there’s the agents who try terribly hard to stir the punters’ enthusiasm for their properties. The amateurish exuberance is quite endearing. I’m sure some of them must be sixth-formers on work experience.

The kitchen also has access to the garden which can have extremely useful applications.

Calm down, dear. It’s a garden, not a Swiss Army knife.

The family bathroom is fully tiled and consists of a w/c, wash basin, bath tub and shower! This gives the new tenants an amazing experience of full bathing flexibility.

Funny, I’ve been in quite a few houses that have bathrooms with all these things, yet I’ve never been amazed at my experience of ‘full bathing flexibility’. Have I been missing out on something special all these years?

Phonetic alphabet

Phonetically Defined, a cartoon by John Atkinson of Wrong Hands
But it’s not just the schoolboy howlers. The spelling would also make you wince. After a short foray into estate agent land, I later found myself having to look twice at words because of their unfamiliar spelling, ie the correct versions.

Kitchen-dinner room—fair enough, but there was usually plenty of room for a dinning table too. Ideal for families with noisy toddlers.

Intergrated kitchen appliances seem to be very popular these days in suburbia, as are units with draws and shower cubicals.

Best of all if you can find a sort after property in a quite road.