Confused by this ubiquitous listing term, and curious about why a six-room apartment has such an appeal? In this week’s Buy Curious, Stribling & Associates agent Marcy Pedas Sigler explains what the phrase means, plus the benefits and drawbacks of buying one.
THE WISH LIST:
I’ve been looking at apartment listings, and I keep running into the phrase, “classic six” (and “classic five,” “classic seven,” and so on). What exactly does that mean, and why is it desirable? Will I pay more to live in one? Where are they located?
This term refers to a prewar apartment ("classic") with a certain number of rooms ("six"), generally including the kitchen and bedrooms and excluding the bathrooms, pantries and entrance galleries. A "classic six" has a living room, formal dining room with a window, a separate kitchen, two full bedrooms and a maid's room that's usually located off the kitchen with its own full bathroom or half-bath. (A "classic five" lacks the maid's room, while a "classic seven" has an extra bedroom, and the rare surviving "classic eight" has a room for a second maid.)
Beyond the dictionary definition, the phrase is shorthand for a place with features like oak floors, thick walls, solid-core doors, generous room proportions and the ultimate status symbol: a working wood-burning fireplace. You'll often find "classic" apartments in co-op buildings that date back to the 1920s through 1940, primarily on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side.
In recent years, developers of new condos like 135 East 79th Street, 200 East 79th Street and 1110 Park Avenue have co-opted the "classic" layout, combining those old-school embellishments with modern extras like garages, gyms, pools and screening rooms. So, if you're enamored of the prewar style, you don't have to confine your search to decades-old buildings (or pass a co-op board!).
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When it comes to apartments that are described as "classic sixes," about 35 prewar co-ops are currently on the market, with an average asking price of about $2.3 million, and 13 post-war condos and co-ops are for sale, asking about $2.59 million on average, according to StreetEasy. For comparison’s sake, the median sales price of a Manhattan two-bedroom co-op was $1.185 million and condo was $1.8 million in the third quarter, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. (Sales prices, however, tend to be lower than asking prices in general.)
- High ceilings of at least nine feet
- Defined living areas, where the apartment is divided into three zones—public (living room, dining room, library), private (bedrooms), and servant’s quarters (including the kitchen). Hallways also help separate spaces.
- Original details like moldings and cornices
- Lack of an open layout (which could be a downside if you have small children that you want to keep an eye on)
- A maid's room that may have been all the rage back in the day, but now is more likely to be a closet-sized bedroom that someone will get stuck with. (However, the space can often work well as an office or guest room.)
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