A NYC-Specific Glossary of Real Estate Terms

Confused by your broker’s lingo? Not quite sure of the difference between a coop and condo? This NYC-specific glossary of real estate terms should help explain what he/she is talking about, and might even hurry along the buying or renting process.

When you’re in the market to buy or rent a new home in NYC, it can feel like your agent is speaking another language. Here are common real estate terms, and their definitions:


Alcove studio
A one-room apartment with a separate sleeping area.

Classic six
Found in pre-war building (see below), these six-room apartments feature two bedrooms, a dining room, living room, kitchen and a small maid’s room.

Convertible apartment
An apartment in which more bedrooms can be added — usually with a temporary wall.

Short for cooperative, this is a building that’s owned by a corporation. A buyer purchases stock in the building, unlike in a condominium, when he/she buys the apartment outright.

Junior 4
A one-bedroom with a large living room, or other space large enough to section off a small office or bedroom (note: In NYC, a bedroom must have a window).

An apartment on the first floor of a building that has a private entrance.

An apartment that serves as a second home, used only occasionally.

A building that was built after World War II, typically between the 1950s and 1970s. Post-war buildings are often white, red, or brown brick.

This label describes a building built before World War II. Pre-war apartments tend to have larger rooms and hardwood floors.


The evaluation of a property by a licensed appraiser, used by a bank to determine how much to lend the buyer.

Closing costs
Expenses incurred in a purchase and paid at the time of closing — includes lawyer fees, appraisal fees, taxes, and title insurance.

An arrangement between two brokers — one for the buyer and one for the seller — to split the commission.

Common charges
What condo owners pay each month to cover costs of maintaining common areas and services.

When a sum of money is put in the care of a third party and not delivered until certain conditions are fulfilled. Oftentimes, coop boards require buyers to put a year’s worth of maintenance in escrow.

A monthly charge coop owners pay to cover the building’s operating costs, real estate taxes, and debt on the building’s underlying mortgage.

Mansion tax
A 1 percent tax on the selling price for any home costing more than $1 million.

A document with all information buyers need on a new condo (or building in the process of converting into a coop or condo); also referred to as the offering plan.

Sponsor unit
An apartment in a coop still owned by the original owner or corporation that turned the building from a rental into a coop. Sponsor units are often unrenovated, less expensive, and don’t require board approval to buy.

Tax abatement
A government-offered financial incentive, in which the owner of the property and/or the developer pays reduced taxes for a certain amount of time — usually 10–15 years.


Someone who legally agrees to pay a tenant’s rent if they default. They usually have to make 80 times the monthly rent.

Net-effective rent
When a landlord offers one month free rent, they’ll usually list the net-effective rent, meaning how much the rent costs if you take into account those savings. But renters don’t pay the net effective rent. They pay the full rent and usually skip one month’s rent at the end of the lease.

Rent Stabilization
A form of rent regulation that stays in effect until the rent reaches $2,500, or the household income surpasses $200,000 per year. Rent increases for stabilized units must be approved by the Rent Guidelines Board.

A lease between a tenant and a subtenant (and not between a tenant and an owner).

Image Source: Flickr/massmatt


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