Luxury Market

What is an Estate?

Robin Kencel|October 12, 2019

The word “estate” is one of those words that can carry a boatload of different meanings. As a stand-alone word (vs. the phrase real estate) “estate” can summon up images of grand houses surrounded by acres of land and exuberant gardens. Visions of the nineteenth-century land barons come to mind. Aristocrats riding to the hounds across lush countryside might be evoked. In this sense, the word triggers associations with success, riches, power, and abundance.

Another association with the word “estate” is with the end of life—it denotes all the money and property owned by a person when they pass away. This is the less cheerful meaning, although it, too, evokes valuable things—possessions that have value (sometimes great value).

The reason this deep dive into the word is relevant to Greenwich and other luxury market readers is because of the way it is sometimes used in listings: “estate condition.” This does not mean that the Rockefellers have decided to put one of their spare mansions on the market. It means “fixer-upper.”

You might think that this is an example of bait-and-switch deception, but that’s really not the case. Realistically, no house hunter who expected to tour a palatial estate would be fooled for long by the description; the listing photos alone would instantly correct any such impression. “Estate condition” is simply real estate-ese for a residence which is in need of extensive renovation, as is sometimes the case when elderly homeowners have been content to reside in familiar (but now out of fashion) surroundings. To the next owners will fall the effort and expense of updating.


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