Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Up now: apartment layout descriptions and common listing terms.
“Only in New York” can apply to many things in this great city, from the guy on the N Train who plays the Godfather theme on the melodica to NYC’s personal glossary of apartment terms. (And we don’t just mean the brokerbabble.)
Let’s start with a few staples:
Maisonette: An apartment on a lower floor in a building that usually occupies two floors and has a private entrance from inside the lobby as well as from outside. These are sometimes converted into doctor’s offices or some sort of professional space. Or for certain real estate moguls, a place for quiet time.
Classic 6: “Classic” refers to the fact that this type of apartment is probably going to be found in a prewar building (the more classic and old school “classier” of the other options). 6 refers to the six rooms in the apartment?2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, formal dining room, and a smaller bedroom (which could be a maid’s room, office, or nursery).
Duplex/Triplex: A duplex has two floors. A triplex has three. I bet you guessed that one already.
Mews: A private gated street (the most well known in NYC is the Washington Mews, an area now owned by NYU). Originally a row of stables to service the area’s horses, some areas are now homes, while some are still in disrepair. Here's a map to many of them.
Galley Kitchen: Made originally to fit with a ship’s limited space, a galley kitchen usually has rows of appliances and counter space on either side of the kitchen and might have a pass-through into another area of the house. Cabinets are on top to make the most out of the limited space of your apartment.
Pullman Kitchen: Originally found in trains (not unlike the size of your studio), Pullman kitchens are usually spotted in studios with one giant room. If you’re lucky, you might be able to add a breakfast bar to separate it from your bedroom. If you’re unlucky, you’ll get a mini-fridge.
Junior 1: Basically another name for an “Alcove Studio. Instead of a box room, you get more of an L-Shape. Maybe your bed will even not be viewable from your (Pullman) kitchen!
Junior 4: Usually described as a one-bedroom with a dining alcove. Sometimes brokers even pretend that the dining alcove can be made into another bedroom, hence the “Convertible 2.”
Then we get old school fancy. In old floor plans, for buildings like The Dakota, we get “Chambers” for Bedrooms, a “Parlor” for a Living Room, and an “Ante-Room” for a Foyer. How quaint! No Powder Rooms?
So once you understand each listing's layout, which exposures should you be looking for? Most apartment exposure answers are cut and dry. Morning person? Try looking for an apartment with eastern exposure. Gotta have your sunsets? Western exposure for you. For some, a light-filled apartment is essential (work at home, perhaps?), and for others, completely unnecessary (vampires), but what is the commonly accepted “best” exposure?
NYC’s brokers have answered, in a resounding “SOUTH!” Douglas Heddings of Heddings Property Group, says “Most people like south[ern exposures] because it grants the most light, but artists often have a preference for North.” Interesting. Jacky Teplitzky of Prudential Douglas Elliman considers the South and East to be the best exposures because of more direct sunlight, but adds, “of course this all depends if this exposure is not blocked by surrounding buildings.” Excellent point.
Listings websites often categorize views by River, Park, Open, City, or [gasp] None. Then they are further listed as “Full” or “Partial,” though those terms are somewhat subjective. Most buyers would hope that their partial view doesn’t require a precarious fire escape perch, but sometimes you take what you can get. Open Views are usually from a high floor?definitely over treetops and in a best case scenario, a panorama of the area. City Views open a whole other can of worms?agents can pretty much say anything is a “City” view, since technically... it is. A City View can mean anything from a look down a nice street to the back of a building. Agents don’t usually advertise the fact that an apartment has no views, aiming instead to just leave that little nugget of information out of their listing. Sometimes City Views and No Views are the same. Buyer Beware. If views are that important to you, make sure the agent previews the apartment before they show it to you.
For you science nerds out there, here’s a site with some nifty sun-centric graphs and charts to further your research on the best exposures.
Why Just Look at the Outdoors When You Can Own Some?
NYC “outdoor space” comes at a premium if you’re lucky enough to get your hands (and BBQs) on it. Pricing outdoor space is also difficult because of the variety of options, as well as their relative privacy and size. Let’s do a quick recap of some of your potential future hammock holders:
Terrace: A terrace is fixed onto a building, as opposed to a balcony, which hangs off a building with space underneath. Usually larger than a balcony, terraces are some of the most coveted outdoor spaces.
Wrap Terrace: In corner apartments, wrap terraces occupy more than just one side of the outdoor space. Imagine that.
Balcony: Usually smaller than terraces (and sometimes not even big enough to have a table and chairs), balconies stick out and are usually located right underneath another balcony.
Juliet Balcony: You might not even be able to step out onto this “balcony.” Only good for shouting to stalkers on your grounds.
Garden: Located on a ground floor, garden apartments may at one time housed building workers. They’re also common (and expected!) when purchasing a brownstone or townhouse.
Patio: Usually man-made onto a garden with wood or stone.
Private Roof Deck: Jackpot! From an entrance in your apartment, you can make your way up to the top of the building, which can have many shapes or sizes. It could also be completely private or semi private (in view of the main building roof deck).
Jonathan Miller says is asked to explain the pricing structure for outdoor spaces several times a week. Poor guy. For some in-depth information, read his blog post on the subject. In a hurry? Here’s the basics:
1) Take the apartment’s price per square foot without including the outdoor space in the calculations.
2) The outdoor space is generally priced at 25 to 50 percent of the value of the indoor space. Of course, there are other aspects affecting the value such as its location within the building, privacy, and size.
If you’re really on the hunt for a kickass outdoor space, research what similar apartments in the area are going for so you’ll know what to expect on your search.
· Co-ops vs. Condos vs. Condops vs. Pied-a-Terres [Curbed]
· Curbed University archive [Curbed]
· Outdoor Space coverage [Curbed]