Buy Curious

What's a 'classic six' apartment, and why are they so desirable?

By Leah Hochbaum Rosner | August 11, 2021 - 12:30PM 

This classic six apartment at 142 East 71st St. is currently on the market for $1,850,000.

 Compass

If you’re drawn to New York’s older, prewar buildings, you’re probably a fan of the classic six. These are apartments with detailed facades, high ceilings, and plaster moldings—and as the name suggests, a layout with six, separate rooms. 

A classic six also has coveted features like large rooms, wood floors, and solid-core doors. These types of apartments can allow for some flexibility to accommodate a home office or reconfigure a smaller kitchen. This is something that can be hard to find in many new developments or refurbished buildings. Classic six apartments are mostly found on Manhattan’s Upper East and Upper West sides.

In this Buy Curious column, Marcy Sigler, a broker with Compass, explains how this type of apartment has both benefits and drawbacks.


[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this post was published in August 2019. We are presenting it with updated information for August 2021.]


The question:

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?

The reality:

“This term refers to a prewar apartment with six rooms, generally including the kitchen and bedrooms, and excluding the bathrooms, pantries and entrance galleries,” Sigler says.

A classic six has a living room, a formal dining room with a window, a separate kitchen, two full bedrooms, and what was previously a maid's room—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 classic eight has an additional small room

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What are classic sixes like?

These apartments are known for quintessential prewar features, such as oak floors, thick walls, solid-core doors, generous room proportions, a dining room, and the ultimate status symbol: a working wood-burning fireplace.

Where can you find a classic six?

“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,” Sigler says. 

That said, developers of new construction are incorporating some of the classic six details into their current projects.

“In recent years, developers of new condos like 520 Park Ave. in Lenox Hill and 220 Central Park South in Midtown have co-opted the classic layout, combining those old-school embellishments with modern extras like garages, gyms, pools and screening rooms,” Sigler says. 

“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,” she says.

 This co-op at 325 Riverside Dr., on the market for $1,500,000, is a classic six with foyer, gallery, and dining room.

This co-op at 325 Riverside Dr., on the market for $1,500,000, is a classic six with foyer, gallery, and dining room.

How many classic sixes are for sale at the moment?

Fewer than 30 apartments listed on StreetEasy are described as a classic six. Some have already been reconfigured from their original classic six design, or like 1060 Park Avenue #5/6F have been combined with neighboring units into much grander apartments. 

The average asking price for six-room co-ops in prewar buildings is $2.8 million, according to data from Compass. The average asking price of six-room, postwar co-op and condos currently on the market is around $4 million.

For comparison’s sake, according to the Compass Manhattan Market Report, the average sales price for a Manhattan condo in the second quarter of 2021 was $2,636,246 and for co-ops it was $1,238,484. (Sales prices tend to be lower than asking prices.)

Why would someone want to buy a classic six?

The pros of purchasing a classic six include high ceilings of at least nine feet as well as prewar details like plaster moldings and cornices. 

Some people also like the fact that classic sixes have defined living areas. The apartment is typically divided into three zones—public (living room, dining room, library), private (bedrooms), and so-called servants’ quarters (including the kitchen). 

There are usually hallways separating these areas which also help define the spaces

What are the disadvantages of buying a classic six?

A classic six can make you feel somewhat boxed in and many New Yorkers prefer open plans with fewer walls and living spaces that feel more expansive.

“The lack of an open layout could be a downside if you have small children that you want to keep an eye on,” Sigler says. 

Finally, while a so-called maid’s room might have had a useful function when the apartment was built, it’s now more likely to be an impractically small closet-sized room—still, it’s more than likely to now be marketed as the perfect work from home office space (but it might not work as a bedroom).

 

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