Agency: Relationship wherein an agent is employed by a principal to perform certain acts on the principal’s behalf.

Air Rights: More correctly known as Transferable Development Rights, or TDRs, the right to build above or add square footage to a structure. These rights are determined by city zoning regulations or public need and can be sold to adjoining structures for a negotiated price between land owners.

Assessment: An additional charge imposed by a cooperative or condominium upon the shareholder/unit owner to be used for the improvements or upgrades made to the building. Assessments are levied based on the number of shares, or the percentage of the common charges paid by an apartment owner.

Assignment: The authorization to transfer a contract/lease between parties and/or the process of assigning one’s primary lease to that of a second party until the end of the term.

Client: A party who is represented by an agent.

Common Area: A space that is shared by all owners/residents of the building or complex. Said area can be the lobby, a courtyard, basement space or a common roof deck.

Concierge: A lobby-stationed staff member of an apartment building who assists residents and guests by handling the storage of packages, taking and delivering messages, announcing guests, etc.

Conditional Sales Contract: Contract for sale of property which states that the contract can be cancelled unless conditions of the contract have been fulfilled. A contract is usually subject to these conditions for only a defined period of time.

Cooperative: An enterprise or organization that is owned or managed jointly by those who use its facilities or services. Those who purchase within a coop are considered to be shareholders. While a shareholder does not own the apartment, they do own a percentage of shares within the cooperative and are entitled to a long term “proprietary lease” The percentage of ownership is generally proportionate to the size of the apartment. Shareholders contribute a monthly maintenance fee to cover the amenities of the building. Heat, hot water, insurance, staff salaries, etc. are some of the expenses covered by maintenance fees.

Some of the disadvantages of co-op ownership are:

  • A minimum down payment is required and set by the Board of Directors. The minimum is normally 20-25% in cash.
  • Subleasing the unit can be difficult. Each coop has its own house rules that should be carefully reviewed by the prospective purchasers. An apartment or other unit owned by a corporation specifically formed to own the building or buildings which form the cooperatives. Unit residents, called tenant shareholders, own stock and a proprietary lease which confer upon them the exclusive use of the unit they have purchased.

Contract Out: In a sale or rental transaction, a buyer/renter and a seller/owner must agree on a price/rent before the deal can be finalized. When all parties involved are in verbal accord, the lease or sales contract must be drawn and sent to the renter/purchaser or their attorney. At this point, the status of the property is referred to as “contract out”.

Dual Sink/Vanity: Two separate sinks in the bathroom of an apartment.

En Suite Bathroom: French term for ‘together’ used in real estate when referring to a bathroom that is accessible only through a bedroom. En suite bathrooms are common in master bedrooms.

Flip Tax/Transfer Fee: A flip tax/transfer fee is a tax imposed by the cooperative on the sale of a unit within said building. This fee can be based on a percentage of the gross sale, net sale, gain, or the number of shares held by the shareholder or a fixed number determined by the Cooperative board. The flip tax can be paid by the purchaser, seller or shared by both parties. These fees are utilized by a building for the purpose of increasing its reserve fund.

Full Service Building: This term is used to describe a building that employs a full-time doorman, concierge or elevator operator.

High Ceilings: Ceilings that are nine feet or above in height. Most pre-war and many of the newly constructed condominiums are notable for their high ceilings.

In Contract: This term defines the period of time in which the seller/owner and buyer/renter have agreed to the terms of a transaction and have signed a contract to proceed to closing.

Interest Rate: The proportion of a loan charged as interest to a borrower, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the loan outstanding.

Keyed Elevator: When an apartment occupies the entire floor of a building, a keyed elevator normally accompanies it. This elevator leaves you in the foyer of the apartment. This type of elevator is normally seen in loft spaces or high-end units.

Lease Assignment: When a lessee/tenant must leave his/her apartment before the end of the lease term, but is still held responsible through the end of said term. The lessor/owner may allow the original tenant to assign his/her lease to a new tenant.

Lease: A legal document, often prepared by an attorney, which outlines the responsibilities of the landlord and tenant.

Loft apartments: Generally former commercial or industrial buildings that have been converted into apartments. These buildings rarely provide a doorman and usually consist of vast spaces with high ceilings. Many lofts are found in Greenwich Village, Soho, Tribeca, Chelsea and the Flatiron District.

Loft Space: Former commercial or industrial spaces converted into apartments. Most loft buildings lack doorman service.

Maisonette: A ground floor apartment with a separate street entrance from the rest of the building. This type of apartment may or may not have a second entrance inside the building’s lobby, but still shares the same amenities as the rest of the building.

Maintenance: Monthly charges paid by an individual cooperative owner to the cooperative as their proportionate share of the building’s expenses, consisting of the costs of day-to-day building operations, the building’s underlying mortgage, and real estate taxes.

Managing Agent: Most cooperative and condominium buildings hire an independent company to manage the property. These firms are responsible for managing the daily maintenance, rent rolls, collection of rents or maintenance charges and enforcing building policies.

Open House: In order to market and promote a property, the listing broker or owner may hold an open house in order to generate more interest in the premises over a shorter period of time.

Possession: Occupancy of a unit by a tenant or owner.

Recessed Lighting: Lighting that is located above the ceiling and provides a clean and contemporary look.

Rental Sublet: In the event that a tenant may need to leave his/her apartment for a short period of time, they may opt to assign their current lease to another tenant. Most sublets are furnished and last anywhere from six months to a year.

Reserve Fund: Cooperative and condominium corporations generally maintain a reserve fund in anticipation of future capital improvements or major repairs.

Shares: Shares represent the portion of the building that is owned by an individual shareholder. Shares are usually determined by the size of the unit, the floor on which it is located, light and views.

Service Level: Usually known as the lobby or level on which the front door is located.

Surrogate’s Court (Probate Court): A court having jurisdiction over the proof of wills and the settling of estates.

Tax Deductibility: Each cooperative has an annual number that reflects the amount that each individual shareholder will be allowed to deduct off of his/her individual income tax. The number also reflects the shareholder’s proportionate share of the building’s underlying mortgage and the real estate taxes imposed for that year.

Terrace: An outdoor space adjoining a room or apartment, set back above the floor below. The term is often used incorrectly to describe a balcony.

Utilities Included: This refers to an apartment that includes gas and electricity in the monthly rent