diversion is more of a (small) rant about Manhattan real estate “penthouses”

creeping nomenclature is all too common

It’s the weekend, but instead of the usual diversion having nothing to do with Manhattan lofts, I’d like to do a short riff on a pice in The Real Deal this week, When Is A Penthouse A Penthouse? TRD quotes some of the usual suspects (including The Miller, of course) about the entirely predictable if nonetheless disappointing practice of those in the Marketing Division of the Real Estate Industrial Complex stretching the bounds of language. Shameless broker babble, just imagine!!

“Now there is luxury living that feels like a penthouse even if you’re not on the top floor, so in order to fall under that [penthouse] category you need breathtaking views and amazing amenities,” said [an agent who will not be named here]. “They can all be of quality but this has something extra.”

Uh … no. You can call anything you like a penthouse, but (as TRD notes, getting it half right)

The textbook definition points to an apartment or dwelling on the roof of a building, or any specially-designed apartment on an upper floor – especially the top floor – of a building.

(Note to self … research the origin; why a “pent” house??)

I have beaten this drum before, probably most recently in my January 30, elevator does not go to top floor at 258 Broadway, penthouse loft sells anyway (eventually, eventually):

There are penthouses, and then there are penthouses. My understanding is that the term originally referred to a residential unit built on the roof, usually having direct (private) access to at least part of the roof, and usually added on rather than part of original building construction. Of course, in the Real Estate Industrial Complex in which all apartments are “rarely offered” if not “unique”, as words tend to be diluted, the term penthouse came to be used for any top floor unit with outdoor space, then to units on upper floors (not just the top most) with outdoor space, then to some upper floor units without outdoor space. Sigh.

Sigh, indeed. The indications in TRD are that the problem is going to get worse before it (if it ever) gets better. Apparently, overly enthusiastic members of the REIC will continue to stretch the word past its breaking point, as has already been done (without irony, of course) with “unique”.

I get the point made by This Smart Guy, but doesn’t it seem self-defeating to attract buyers looking for a specific thing by using that smae name to describe something that is not that specific thing?

Calling a unit a “penthouse” can also be a snappy marketing gimmick, enabling brokers to reel in the subset of buyers who confine their searches to penthouses alone, [The] Miller said.

‘Cuz, you know, buyers “who confine their searches to penthouses alone” are probably doing that because they want “penthouses”, alone (only).

I don’t suppose anything can stop this Alice In Wonderland approach from getting worse. At least for my niche you will see the stretching when a listing is called “loft-like”.

End of rant (diversion) for today. Enjoy the weekend.

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