Real Estate Vocabulary

Real Estate Vocabulary

Building Types

  • Brownstones or Townhouses
    • Generally three- to six-story buildings built in the 1800’s through the early 1900’s. Many were originally built as single-family homes that may or may not have been converted to multi-family apartment buildings, while others have always been multi-family buildings. It is possible to purchase a townhouse as a single family home, as a multi-family building, and it’s also possible to purchase a single apartment within a townhouse.
    • Click here to learn more about townhouses. When searching for a home, please note that apartments within townhouses will be classified as condos or co-ops, not townhouses, depending on the type of building.
  • Pre-war Buildings
    • Pre-war refers to buildings that were built before World War II. They are usually 10 to 20 stories high and their homes offer generous layouts, high ceilings, and other architectural details that are very expensive to reproduce in today’s new construction. It is possible to find pre-wars with every amenity imaginable, or find them with no amenities at all. Buildings in the best of the best locations are almost always pre-war buildings.
  • 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 as the best pre-wars or more modern buildings. Larger apartments in post-wars are not as gracious as the apartments in pre-wars, but post-wars do offer large studio and one bedroom apartments, while pre-wars generally do not.
  • Loft Buildings
    • Lofts are buildings that were originally built as commercial or manufacturing space before being converted to residential use. They are known for having much higher ceilings than traditional residential buildings as well as open layouts that are easy to customize. On the other hand, they usually do not have views, a doorman, or very many amenities. Lofts are most commonly found in downtown Manhattan and throughout Brooklyn.
  • Full-service Buildings or High-rise Buildings
    • Full-service refers to buildings that were built after about 1980. They are almost always condos and they have the newest and best amenities. They are hard (if not impossible) to find in the best of the best locations, so these buyers are generally choosing the amenities and lifestyle over location.

New York City Vocabulary

  • Co-operatives (Co-ops) and Condominiums (Condos)
  • Cond-Ops
    • Traditionally, Cond-Op refers to a co-op building with a commercial condo on the ground floor. The commercial condo can be owned by the co-op, the building’s original sponsor, or an outside investor.
    • Today, Cond-Op is often used to describe a co-op with condo rules (i.e. investors allowed). Ask your broker about the building’s rules if you are unsure.
  • Studio
    • This is a one- or two-room apartment where the living and sleeping area are the same. Creative furniture can help make these spaces more functional.
  • Alcove
    • An alcove is an area adjoining the living space of an apartment. It sometimes might be called a dining alcove or a sleeping alcove. Depending on the size, it may be able to be walled off to create an additional room.
  • Alcove Studio
    • This is a studio with an alcove. The alcove is usually L-shaped and can sometimes be walled off to create a one bedroom apartment.
  • Junior 4
    • This is a one bedroom apartment with an alcove. Depending on the person, it is usually used as a dining area or converted into an extra 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. However, the high ceilings in loft apartments usually allow for sleeping and storage lofts.
  • Classic 6
    • Almost always associated with pre-war apartments. A Classic 6 is an apartment with 6 rooms: two bedrooms, one living room, one dining room, one kitchen, and one maid’s room.
    • A Classic 7 would have a library in addition to the rooms above, and a Classic 8 would have a third bedroom (or second maid’s room).


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Tawil & Team