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The Brokerbabble Glossary: 'Starter Home' Edition

Welcome to The Brokerbabble Glossary, where we take a word or a turn of phrase that seems to show up in an unreasonable number of listings and decipher its true meaning. If you have any ideas for us, send them to the tipline. Today's word: Starter.

[1155 Leavenworth via Redfin. It's a TIC studio asking $269,000]

"Starter," which is sometimes followed by "home," (listing agents prefer to use as few words as possible) is defined as a "relatively small, economical house or condominium; a first home." A starter home is not a grand manse with a marble foyer and master suite. It's a one or two bedroom abode that's on the smallish side. At least that's true for most of America. Here in SF it could mean a very tiny TIC studio with no parking (see above). Extra bonus if the listing includes "a diamond in the rough," which loosely translates to "you're going to need to bring a can of paint and a hammer along with your other belongings when you move in."

[201 Olmstead via Redfin]

We're not entirely sure why this 3-bed, 2-bath, 1,341-square-foot single-family home (complete with garage, basement, and "bonus room") in Portola is being advertised as a starter home. The price is right: $449,900, but that's about all. The listing's a little vague, but we think it's suggesting there's an inlaw, which is more responsibility for you (and it doesn't say if it's legal). More advice: just because a real estate agent says it's a starter home doesn't mean it's true. Make sure you can handle all that house.

[708 Plymouth Avenue via Redfin]

This 2-bed, 1-bath, 855-square-foot single-family-home in Oceanview is the epitome of a starter home. It's $339,000, or $396 per square foot. It's two blocks from Sheridan Elementary and one block from the Minni & Lovie Ward Recreational Center, which has tennis courts, basketball courts, and a baseball diamond. Another thing we should mention: since starter homes tend to be on the less expensive side, you're going to notice that the majority of them lack staging, and it's quite common that the current owners are still occupying the house.