Air Rights: The right to build above or add square footage on top of a structure. These rights are determined by City zoning regulations.
Alcove studio: An apartment in which the main living area is usually L-shaped, forming an alcove that can be used as a sleeping area. Alcoves vary in size and some are large enough to convert into a 1-bedroom apartment.
Amenity: Feature of a property that enhances its attractiveness and value such as a doorman, laundry room, gym, etc.
Appraisal: A valuation of property by the estimate of a licensed appraiser.
As-is Condition: When the tenant or buyer accepts a property in its present condition with no expectations that the owner will improve anything before or after its sale or lease.
Assessment: A charge imposed by a cooperative or condominium in addition to the regular monthly charges. These assessments are shared by all owners and are generally used to repair the common areas of the building.
Assignment: The right to transfer a contract from one party to another. This term is often used to describe an assignment of mortgage or lease.
Attended Elevator: An elevator that is operated by an attendant.
Balcony: A reinforced slab that projects from the exterior wall of a building. It is typically small, compared to a terrace.
Basement: The part of a building that is wholly or partly below ground level.
Broom Clean: In clean condition.
Brownstone: Late 19th and early 20th century buildings located on various tree-lined streets in New York including Harlem and the Upper West Side. Originally built as private homes, many have been converted into multi-unit apartment buildings where apartments range from studios to 2-floor units.
Capital Improvement: A renovation of some part of a property that increases its value. A capital improvement may consist of a remodeled kitchen or an added deck.
Classic Six: Pre-war apartments (some postwar apartments) consisting of the six “classic” rooms: living room, formal dining room, kitchen, maid's room and 2 bedrooms. These apartments generally offer spacious layouts, with large rooms and a formal foyer.
Closing: The process in which a property is transferred to the new official owner.
Closing Costs: Expenses associated with the sale of a property. These fees may include attorney’s fees, bank fees, transfer taxes, recording fees, and are in addition to the sales price of the property.
Closing Statement: A written accounting of all monies paid and received during the Closing.
Cloud on the Title: An encumbrance that adversely affects the title of a property.
Co-Brokerage: An arrangement in which a broker splits their commission with another brokerwho procures the buyer/tenant and closes the transaction. Most real estate deals are done through co-brokering.
Commission: The fee a broker earns for effectuating the sale or lease of a property.
Common Areas: The areas inside and outside of the building that are shared by all residents such as lobby, hallways, courtyard, pool, gym, and other recreational and common facilities.
Comparables (aka “Comps”): Recent sales of similar properties in nearby areas that are used to help determine the current market value of a property.
Concierge: A building staff member that sits in the lobby to secure and monitor its traffic. A Concierge’s duties include accepting packages for residents, informing them of visitors, etc.
Condominium: A form of ownership in which an individual owns a specific apartment in a multi-unit building and shares ownership of the common areas with other unit owners. Condos are considered “real property” and owners are given a deed. Common charges for the maintenance of common areas are shared by all owners.
Condop: A mixed use building subdivided into two or more condominium units, one of which is a co-operative.
Contract of Sale: A written agreement between a buyer and seller of real property that sets forth the terms of the sale.
Convertible: An apartment with an L-shaped living area and windowed dining alcove that can be converted into an additional bedroom or office.
Cooperative: A form of ownership in which an individual owns a “share” in a corporation that owns or leases an apartment building. The percentage of ownership is proportionate to the size of the apartment and the shareholder is given a long term proprietary lease, giving him the right to occupy the apartment. Shareholders pay a monthly maintenance fee to cover expenses associated with maintaining the common areas of the building.
Courtyard: A shared outdoor space owned by a building or complex.
Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): Long-term monthly debt divided by gross monthly income; expressed as a percentage.
Doorman: A building staff member that greets and opens the door for residents while monitoring the traffic in the lobby.
Duplex: An apartment with 2 floors or levels. This can also refer to a building with two units.
EIK: An acronym for “Eat-In-Kitchen.”
Escrow: The deposits of monies with a disinterested third party for safekeeping until the terms of an agreement have been met.
Equity: the difference between the current market value of a property, less any debts (mortgage, home equity loans) due on it.
Exclusive Listing: An exclusive right-to-sell listing provides a broker with an exclusive right to sell or lease a property. The individual broker has the right to earn a commission in the event that the property sells during the term of the exclusive, regardless of whom has procured the buyer. An exclusive agency listing provides the broker an exclusive right to sell or lease a property, except when the owner procures the buyer. In this instance, the broker will be excluded from any commission. Under the terms of an exclusive, the broker has the fiduciary responsibility to the owner.
Facade: Elements which make up the front of a building.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA): A federal agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides mortgage insurance for residential mortgages and sets standards for construction and underwriting. The FHA does not lend money, nor does it plan or construct housing.
Fiduciary: A representative or partner that acts in confidence and trust for another party. Fixed Rate: One of two types of rates offered by lending institutions. In a fixed rate scenario, the lender offers an interest rate which remains constant over the term of the loan.
Fixtures: Personal property attached to real property or improvements that become part of the real property. For example, a chandelier hanging from the dining room ceiling is a fixture and would be sold as part of the property unless otherwise specified in writing as an exclusion in the sale.
Flip Tax: A fee imposed by a cooperative upon the sale of an apartment. This is usually a percentage ranging from 1-5% of the purchase price.
Floor-thru: An apartment that exclusively occupies an entire floor.
Foreclosure: The process by which a lending institution takes back a property because the property owner can no longer meet the monthly mortgage payments. Frontage: The width of the front of a structure.
FSBO: An acronym for “For Sale By Owner.”
Full Service Building: A term used to describe a building that employs a full time doorman and concierge.
Guarantor: A co-signer of a lease who assumes the responsibility of the tenant should the tenant not make the rent payments.
Half-Bath: A bathroom that only has a sink and a toilet - no bathtub or shower.
HVAC: An acronym for “Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning,” aka climate control.
In Contract: A term used to describe the period of time when a buyer and a seller have both signed a contract of sale but have not yet closed.
Interest Rate: The amount of interest charged by a lending institution to mortgage holders for the use of borrowed money. Investment Property: A property that is not occupied by the owner; but purchased as means of investment instead.
Junior One: A one or two room apartment that has an L- shaped living room with windowed dining alcove that had been converted into a bedroom.
Keyed Elevator: An elevator that opens directly into the foyer of a floor-thru apartment. Residents must use a key to operate the elevator and access that floor. The elevator key is, in fact, the front door key.
Lease: A legal document that defines the terms of the agreement between a landlord and a tenant.
LEED: An acronym for the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” the green building rating system which encourages the development and global adoption of sustainable green building practices.
Listing: A term used to refer to available properties.
Loft: A large, open, raw space with few interior walls (if any) and very high ceilings. Most commonly found in formerly industrial districts with large warehouses.
Loft Area: An area built above an apartment’s living area. Commonly found in apartments with high ceilings - at least 12 feet. This space is usually used as storage or for sleeping.
Maintenance Fee: Monthly charges paid by a shareholder in a cooperative building. This fee covers the proportionate share of the building’s expenses for the common areas and amenities as well as a share of the building's underlying mortgage and real estate taxes.
Maisonette: A ground floor apartment that is accessible via a separate street entrance.
Managing Agent: An independent company hired by a cooperative or a condominium to manage the day to day business of the building.
Mortgage: A lien against property (as for securing a loan) that becomes void upon payment or performance according to stipulated terms.
Mortgage Banker: A company that provides home loans using its own money (i.e., most banks including Wells Fargo Bank, Citibank, HSBC, Chase).
Mortgage Broker: A company that matches lenders with prospective borrowers who meet the lender’s criteria. The mortgage broker does not issue the loan, but receives payment for effectuating the loan.
Murphy Bed: A bed hidden in an enclosed frame, closet or cabinet that is attached to a wall. The bed is pulled down when needed, or raised and closed behind doors when not. They are most commonly found in studio apartments.
No Board Approval: This phrase means that a prospective buyer is not required to seek the Board’s approval to purchase in a cooperative. This generally occurs when the sponsor (or developer) of the coop is selling the unit.
Offer Accepted: This term is used to describe when an owner accepts the terms of an offer to purchase a property.
Open House: A marketing event used to promote a property for sale or lease. A broker hosts an open house to make a property available to the public to view for a short period of time. Open houses are generally held on the weekends, traditionally Sundays.
Open Kitchen: A kitchen which opens up to the living area.
Open Listing: A listing offered to all of the brokerage community. No one broker has an exclusive right to sell or lease the property.
Owner Pays (OP): A concession used by landlords to induce prospective tenants by offering to pay all or part of the commission on a rental property.
Parlor Floor: The second floor of a townhouse. This floor is traditionally the grandest room with the highest ceilings, accessible by the front staircase.
Pass-through Kitchen: A kitchen with an opening on both ends usually leading to the living and dining area.
Patio: A private outdoor space, usually located in the back of a building or ground-level apartment.
Pied à terre: A French term used to describe a property that is used on a part-time basis (i.e., summer or vacation home).
Possession: When a new buyer or new tenant takes possession of a property.
Post-War: Refers to buildings built after 1945, the end of World War II (1939-1945). Post-war buildings generally reflect modern building techniques.
Power of Attorney: A written instrument duly signed and executed by an individual, which authorizes an agent to act on behalf of said individual to the extent indicated in the instrument.
Pre-Approval: A Pre-Approval is a tentative commitment from a specific lender and is similar to the final commitment process except that it is non-binding and does not require a fully executed contract of sale. This process is helpful in identifying problems in credit, debt or income before an offer on an interested property is submitted.
Pre-Qualification: A Pre-Qualification for a mortgage will provide you an estimate of how much you can afford and how much a specific lender may be willing to loan you. This process is helpful in determining some financial parameters and is non-binding on either side.
Pre-War: Refers to buildings built prior to 1939, the start of World War II (1939-1945). Prewar buildings are commonly known for larger spaces, hardwood floors, moldings, high ceilings and fireplaces.
Professional Space: Office space set aside in a residential building for use by professionals usually in the medical field. Similar to maisonettes, these spaces can have separate street entrances as well as lobby entrances.
Proprietary Lease: A long term lease, held by a shareholder in a cooperative building, giving him the right to occupy a particular unit.
Prospectus: A written statement disclosing all of the material aspects of a real estate development.
Pullman Kitchen: A kitchen that opens up or faces the living area of a property. This type of kitchen is most often found in small apartments and is situated up against a single wall.
Quadruplex: An apartment that is composed of 4 levels.
Recessed Lighting: Lighting that is located above the ceiling. This lighting does not have a fixture hanging from the ceiling.
Rent Control: A program that regulates how much a landlord can charge for renting an apartment. Tenants in rent-controlled apartments enjoy higher levels of protection against rent increases and evictions.
Rent Stabilization: A program that regulates the amount a landlord may increase the rent on an apartment - usually between 2% to 4% for each lease renewal.
Renter’s Insurance: An insurance policy that protects a tenant’s personal property against flood, fire, theft, or other emergencies within the confines of the respective property.
Reserve Fund: A fund maintained by all cooperative and condominium buildings to pay for the overall maintenance of the building.
Rooftop Deck / Sundeck: A common space on a roof top that residents can enjoy.
Room Count: The count of every room on a property. Included in the Room Count are living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and miscellaneous rooms. Bathrooms are counted separately.
Security Deposit: A deposit held by a landlord as security against potential damage to an apartment during the term of tenancy. This deposit is paid by the tenant upon lease signing and generally reflects 1-2 month’s rent.
Shares: A portion of a shareholder’s ownership in a cooperative corporation. Each apartment has a certain number of shares associated with it, determined by the apartment’s size, floor, private outdoor space, etc.
Sponsor: The developer of a real estate development. In cooperatives, sponsors can often sell their units without the Board approval of prospective buyers.
Square Footage: The size of space determined by multiplying its length by its width (i.e., a room with the dimensions of 15 feet by 10 feet has a total square footage of 150).
Studio: An apartment with no formal bedroom.
Subletting/Subleasing: When a tenant leases his apartment to a third party for a period of time with the landlord’s approval.
Superintendent (aka “Super”): A building staff member responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of a residential or commercial building. The Super is generally the main point of contact for the residents of the building.
Tax Abatement: Tax break offered by the City as an incentive for development in a particular area.
Tax Deductibility: A percentage of the maintenance fees that may be deducted on an individual shareholder’s income tax return for its proportionate share of the cooperative building’s underlying mortgage and real estate taxes.
Terrace: An outdoor area created when the upper floors of an apartment building are set further back from the lower floors. Terraces are valued higher than balconies, in part because they feel more stable.
Title: Legal proof that a property owner is the lawful owner of the property.
Title Search: An examination of the public records to determine the ownership and encumbrances affecting real property.
Transfer Tax (Condos): A fee imposed by a condominium upon the sale of an apartment. This fees is usually a percentage of the purchase price – generally ranging from 1-3% of the purchase price.
Transfer Tax (NYS & NYC): State and City taxes payable upon the conveyance of real property. These taxes are paid by the seller, except in the case of a new development.
Triple Mint: A property in excellent condition, namely (1) general condition of the apartment, (2) condition of the kitchen, and (3) condition of the bathroom.
Unsold Shares: This term pertains to shares in a cooperative building that have not yet been sold by the Sponsor.
WBFP: An acronym for “Wood Burning Fire Place.”
WEIK: An acronym for “Windowed Eat-In-Kitchen.”