Local or not, New York City Real Estate jargon is an alphabet soup suited for a cryptographer to understand. A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma filled with sun-drenched adjectives.
Although we agents are sometimes too busy to spell everything out, we can certainly tell you everything you need to know about your next dream home.
PRE-WAR JR 1BD GUT RENO’D EIK w/SS DW, W/D, WIC, HWF & WBFP, DM
The need to capture attention in a time sensitive NYC Real Estate environment is precious, so the lingo is unavoidable. And since consumers don't seem to trust photographs alone, it leaves an agent no choice but to cram as much information into a small headline space.
But do not worry, I am here to break it down so that every abbreviated text makes sense, and you are seeing exactly the apartment the you wanted with all the right amenities.
UNDERSTANDING BUILDING STYLES
Pre-War: Any building built before WWII, and usually means spacious. Sturdy construction and classic architecture. Washington Heights & Inwood are full of these gems.
BRNST or Brownstone: Row houses clad with brown sandstones. A coveted Harlem specialty.
New Construction: These offer amenities and public spaces and most likely CAC.
KNOWING THE CLASSIC SETUPS
Studio: One room space with a bathroom. Sometimes the kitchen is separate. That is all. An alcove studio has a little nook you can play in. The nook usually has no window.
Junior One Bedroom: Studio with an extra small room or where the living and kitchen area are combined with a separate bedroom.
One/Two Bedroom: Well d’uh. Technically though, in order to qualify as a real bedroom, a room in an apartment built before 1929 must be at least 8 x 8. Bedrooms are also required to have a window.
Junior Four: One bedroom with four separate rooms — bedroom, kitchen, living room, and another small room that could be converted to whatever you want it to be.
Classic Six: Usually in a prewar, the 6 rooms are a formal dining room, living room, kitchen, two “real” bedrooms, and a “maid’s room". The classic seven is the same deal with another bedroom.
Loft: Large, open living space in an older industrial building, sometimes against zoning regulations. Nowadays, many new condos and rentals are constructed with loft floor plans with modern amenities like CAC.
Railroad: Mostly in older tenement-style buildings - so named for its straight floor plan. For the most part, the front door opens directly into the apartment, and to get to a room, you must travel through 1 or all of the previous rooms to do so.
Floor-Through: Can take up the entire floor of a building, or simply one that runs from the front to the back. Railroads are almost always floor-throughs.
Garden Apartment: Bottom floor of a brownstone with its own entrance through a gate under the stoop (the entrance at the top of the stoop leads to the “parlor floor”). Sometimes it’s shared with other people who live in the building, sometimes it’s all yours.
Penthouse: Any apartment on the top floor of a building. Even the elevator button for a penthouse is special, reading “PH”. The word penthouse itself, gaining traction in New York back in the Roaring 20s, has the same root as the word appendage, and some penthouses are exactly that—appendages built on top of apartment building roofs known as little houses in the sky.
Duplex: Two levels, connected by a stairway, gives a sense of space and privacy even when there’s minimal square footage. Sometimes those second floors can be tiny and the stairs narrow.
FREQUENTLY USED ADJECTIVES AND TERMS
Quiet: Back of the Building away from heavy foot and vehicle traffic.
Open Plan/Concept: The kitchen and the living room are combined, sometimes separated by an island or nothing at all.
New to Market: Hurry up and grab this before someone else does
Cozy & Charming: No way around this one, it means its Small. Period.
Mild Reno vs. Gut Reno: Slapping on a layer of paint vs. a full renovation
Master: The biggest bedroom
Chef’s Kitchen: More than negligible counter space
EIK: Eat-In-Kitchen where there is space for a little table or counter
SS DW & W/D: Stainless steel dishwasher and washer dryer
WIC: Walk in closet
HWF: Hard wood floors
WBFP: Wood burning fire place. These don’t really exist, but worth knowing anyways.
P/T or DM: Part-Tme or Full-Time Doorman.
CAC: Central Air Conditioning
I hope that this information helps you in your search, as we as agents know finding a place is hard - but reading the copy of the AD shouldn't be. Now, just for fun, feel free to send me your suggestions on how you want real estate ads to read or send me your favorite encrypted ads and I will send you a decoder ring.