Homes That Need “TLC,” are “Cozy,” or Have Other Interesting Descriptions
If you’re like most people, you’re starting your house-hunt online – and that means you’re looking at pictures of homes that interest you. Hopefully you’re also reading listing descriptions, which tell you the basics about each home you see. These listing descriptions are a real estate agent’s way of vetting people who aren’t really interested in the home; some people read them and decide that despite the listing photos, the house probably isn’t a good fit for them after all. But some agents get creative in their listing descriptions, and it can be tough to tell what they’re really saying about each home. This guide gives you a sneak peek into what common terms mean when you see them in listing descriptions. 

Homes That Need “TLC,” are “Cozy,” or Have Other Interesting Descriptions

You’ll see all kinds of terms when you’re reading real estate descriptions, including:

  • TLC
  • Cozy
  • Dainty
  • Budget-friendly
  • Starter home

Here’s what each of them means.


When a home’s listing description says it needs TLC – short for tender, loving care – that means it needs work. It may also mean that the price reflects the fact that the house needs some elbow grease, but sometimes homeowners want to sell you a house as-is without lowering the price appropriately. Though sellers are required to disclose known issues about a home, they can’t tell you what they don’t know – and that may mean the house is a lemon in disguise. You should always have a home inspected before you agree to buy it.
Related: Common closing costs for cash buyers


When you think of something cozy, maybe you picture sitting in front of a crackling fireplace with hot cocoa and your favorite book – but in a real estate listing description, it’s a nice way to say that space is limited. Home size means different things to different people, but if you need lots of space to roam at home, you may not be very interested in a “cozy” house.


Dainty is an elegant way to say cozy – and both mean that space is limited in a home like this. Even if the word dainty describes just one room, such as the guest bathroom, know what you’re getting into when you go for a tour. If the current owner is okay with a space being called dainty, it’s because it’s very… cozy, and they know it.
Related: Why “days on market” matters in a home listing


Budget-friendly generally means affordable, but it can be misleading when you read it in a real estate listing description. And saying that a home is budget-friendly doesn’t necessarily make it true; after all, everyone’s financial situation is different. What’s budget-friendly for a millionaire won’t be budget-friendly for someone who makes $60,000 per year and doesn’t have a down payment saved up. 

Starter Home

First things first: Gone are the days when most people buy a small (sorry – “cozy”) home when they’re starting out and gradually work their way up to six bedrooms and four bathrooms. Many people are buying their forever homes right out of the gate – their first home will be their last (though that’s not always true). When a listing description says that you’re looking at a “starter home,” it’s implying that if you’re buying your first house, you’re not going to do much better. There are plenty of great “starter homes” out there, but just be forewarned that you don’t have to limit yourself to houses with that type of description. 

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