Downtown Manhattan at night

Real Estate Vocabulary


Building Types

  • Brownstones or Townhouses
    • Generally three- to six-story buildings built in the 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Some are single-family homes while others are multi-family buildings.
    • Brownstone in particular refers to a townhouse with a brownstone exterior. Commonly found in Brooklyn and parts of Manhattan.
    • It is also possible to purchase an apartment within a townhouse. The apartment would be considered a co-op or condo, not a townhouse.
  • Pre-war Buildings
    • Pre-war refers to buildings that were built before World War II. They are usually 10 to 20 stories high.
    • Pre-war buildings offer generous layouts, high ceilings, rare architectural details, and unique quirks (charm) that many find attractive.
    • Buildings in the best of the best locations are usually pre-war buildings. They can have every amenity or no amenities at all.
  • Post-war Buildings
    • Post-war generally refers to high-rise buildings built between 1950 and 1980.
    • They have a doorman and other amenities, but not as many amenities as the best pre-wars or modern buildings.
    • Post-wars offer larger studios and one bedroom apartments than pre-wars, but less gracious 2+ bedroom apartments.
  • Loft Buildings
    • Loft buildings were originally built for commercial or manufacturing use, then converted to residential use.
    • Lofts are attractive for their high ceilings, open layouts and especially their location (downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn).
    • In general, lofts do not have views, a doorman, or very many amenities. Some exceptions exist.
  • Full-service Buildings or High-rise Buildings
    • Full-service refers to buildings that were built after about 1980. They have the newest and best amenities.
    • These buildings are hard (if not impossible) to find in the best of the best locations. In sales, they are almost always condos.
    • Full-service buildings are attractive for amenities, lifestyle, and services.

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New York City Vocabulary

  • Co-operatives (Co-ops) and Condominiums (Condos)
    • The two main types of apartments available for purchase in NYC. Co-ops are more common than condos.
  • Cond-ops
    • Today, Cond-op is used to describe a co-op building with condo rules (i.e. investors allowed).
    • Traditionally, Cond-op referred to a building with co-op apartments on top of a commercial condo.
  • Studio
    • This is a one- or two-room apartment where the living and sleeping area are the same.
  • Alcove
    • An alcove is an area adjoining the living space of an apartment, sometimes called a dining alcove or a sleeping alcove.
  • Alcove Studio
    • This is a studio with an alcove. The alcove is usually L-shaped.
  • Junior 4
    • This is a one bedroom apartment with an alcove. It is usually used as a dining area or converted into another bedroom.
  • Duplex
    • In New York, duplex refers to a bi-level apartment, not two apartments.
    • A triplex has three levels, a quadruplex has four levels, and so on.
  • Sleeping Loft or Storage Loft
    • In apartments with high ceilings, a loft area is sometimes created above the living space. This can be used for storage or as a de-facto bedroom.
    • Note that sleeping lofts and storage lofts are completely unrelated to loft apartments and loft buildings.
  • Classic 6
    • Almost always associated with pre-war apartments.
    • Classic 6 is an apartment with 6 rooms: two bedrooms, one living room, one dining room, one kitchen, and one maid’s room.
    • Apartments with more than six rooms can be described as Classic 7, Classic 8, etc.

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Tawil & Team