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What Is TLC in Real Estate?

by Don Rafner, studioD

The real estate world is full of acronyms. But few are as important to buyers as "TLC." These three letters in a house-for-sale ad stand for "tender loving care." That might sound whimsical. But it's important for buyers to understand the challenges that come with such a residence. A home that needs "tender loving care" can put a dent in your wallet.


Real estate agents have a reason to use the acronym "TLC" or the phrase "tender loving care" when describing one of their home listings: It's better than writing "needs a lot of work." But that's exactly what a TLC home needs, work on the part of its future buyer. The type of work that such a home needs won't be spelled out in the real estate ad. But buyers can expect to encounter anything from a leaking roof to a sinking foundation to bowed floors or collapsing front porches.

As Is

TLC homes are often sold in "as is" condition. This is an important consideration for buyers. It means that the home's owners are unwilling -- or, at times, unable -- to fix any problems with the home, no matter how severe. Buyers must realize that they may have to spend significant money to improve a TLC home that is being sold in "as is" condition.

Home Inspection

Buyers purchasing homes listed as needing TLC should order a home inspection after their offer is accepted by the owners. A home inspector will tour a home -- often with the buyer present -- to search for problems both minor and major. If an inspector finds too many problems, the buyer might discover that the home is not a wise purchase. That's why buyers making offers on TLC homes should make sure that their offers are contingent, with a clause spelling out that they can withdraw their offer depending on the problems turned up in a home inspection.


One major benefit comes with buying a home listed as needing TLC: price. Such homes are usually listed at lower prices. Buyers willing to put in the extra work, or pay someone else to do it, can purchase a TLC home to break into a neighborhood that would otherwise be outside their price range.

About the Author

Don Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.

Photo Credits

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