The real estate buzz words that sell San Francisco’s most luxurious listings

The old saying goes that, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But sometimes just a few words, used over and over again, can create a pretty compelling picture. This is especially true when it comes to luxury real-estate, where “broker speak” can give a very interesting peek into the mindset of high-end buyers.

Perhaps it’s a given that in a bustling city environment, luxury buyers are looking to purchase their own little piece of peace and quiet. In fact, “quiet” and “secluded” are some of the terms that come up most often in listings at the $5-million-plus level.  Asking $6,495,000, 20 Walnut Street is advertised as being “perched on a quiet—almost private—block of Presidio Heights.” Across town in Liberty Hill, 385 Liberty Street (listed at just under $7 million) isn’t just “set on the upper slope of a quiet and secluded section” of the Zuckerberg-adjacent neighborhood. The listing makes the home itself sound like one big mute button for the outside world: the “remarkable refuge sets the tone for enjoyment of personal space” and “commands stunning views, tranquility and comfort.”

It seems high-end buyers also want to feel they are getting something others can’t have. Brokers often start off their listings by leaning hard on exclusivity, with terms like “coveted” and “sought-after” describing everything from neighborhoods to floor plans. “RARE OFFERING in a coveted location!” scream the opening lines of the listing notes for 428 Collingwood in Dolores Heights, a $6,750,000 new build.

The language used to sell these newly built luxury properties—often built in southern neighborhoods like Dolores Heights and Noe Valley—does tend to be a bit more passionate than their more staid sisters to the north. “Classic,” “timeless,” “grand” and “stately” are some of the biggest buzzwords in Pacific and Presidio Heights, whereas “dramatic,” and “one-of-a-kind” design elements are emphasized in newer properties. “‘Exceptional’ best describes this one-of-a-kind property w/ breathtaking bay, bridge & skyline views,” writes the breathless broker for a $5,495,000 condo at 301 Main St, where two units were combined to make one new space. “This fabulous home is unlike any other property in South Beach, created for the discriminating buyer who appreciates quality.”

But brokers selling period properties also want to make sure that “discriminating buyers” aren’t alienated by the prospect of moving into a home that could be over a century old. “This special residence is where historical glamour meets modern luxury,” reads the listing notes for a $7,495,000 historic landmark home at 1735 Franklin St, in a typical “You can have it all” message. “The grandeur of another era blends seamlessly into a contemporary lifestyle in the stunning renovation of a grand Pacific Heights mansion.”

“Modern” and “contemporary” are terms that comes up across the board in luxury listings and seems to mean everything from kitchens and bathrooms that have been updated sometime in the last 20 years to a top-to-bottom remodel.

This makes total sense, of course, because if you are about to drop somewhere between $5 million and $10 million on a home, the last words you want to read are “fixer upper.”