Room Count: A Shady Science

Posted by urbandigs

Tue Nov 30th, 2010 08:56 AM

A: Ever wonder how to actually count the number of rooms a property has? Ever wonder why so many brokers mis-represent their listings room count? Its probably because either they don't know what technically makes up a room OR they are pressured by the seller to market the property above what it actually is. Either way, in the world of New York City real estate it is up to YOU the buyer to know what makes up a room so that you don't waste your time visiting a property that isn't what you thought it was! Originally Published July 9th, 2007

Room Count

The number of 'rooms' in an apartment. A living area, a bedroom, and a walled kitchen count as 'rooms'. Therefore, a one bedroom apartment with a living room and kitchen has three (3) rooms. A studio with a separate kitchen has two (2) rooms. A studio with a Pullman Kitchen has one room.

Definition of Room for Major Capital Improvement (MCI) Purposes
Bathrooms, walk-in closets, porches, terraces and hallways are not rooms.

1. A windowless kitchen containing at least 59 square feet or a kitchen of any size with window. In either case, a kitchen must be enclosed by at least three sides, excluding the side(s) that contain(s) the entranceway; or

2. An enclosed area with window containing at least 60 square feet;or

3. An enclosed area without window containing at least 80 square feet.
Therefore, when you have a JR4 property with one bedroom, one living room, a walled kitchen and a separate dining/office alcove, there SHOULD be 3.5 rooms.

1 Bedroom = 1 room
1 Living Room = 1 room
1 Walled Kitchen = 1 room
1 Alcove Space = 0.5 room
Total = 3.5 Rooms

You may wonder why you see two of the same types of properties in the same building being marketed to the public so differently. This is a widespread issue and one that obviously won't get resolved by industry watchdogs like REBNY. Instead, it is up to you to understand and learn about these things so you are educated on what you are seeing and potentially purchasing. If you get duped, chances are you will have a hard time re-duping others when you eventually resell!

Here is a great real life example at 245 East 93rd Street; Astor Terrace Condominiums. Take a look at the difference between how unit 14J & 22J (both Junior 4's) were marketed to prospective buyers:



Both units enjoy this very same JR4 layout and are correctly quoting the property size as 960 sft! However, the measurements vary for the alcove space and the living room space which could be due to the converted 2nd bedroom installed in the higher floor unit. One must also take into account the premium for the higher floor unit which brings more sunlight and better views, as well as the renovations done when doing a pricing anaylsis. In short, 22J should be valued higher for work done and better light/views and NOT for having 4.5 rooms! I would consider a 4.5 room property to be a 2BR/2BTH with dining area plus separate kitchen.

The fact that both units are quoted at 960 total sft and that the layout is virtually the same makes this argument one of marketed room count and NOT one of misrepresentation of total size or # of bedrooms; technically the 2nd bedroom is absolutely fine and has a window, hvac, and over 100 sft of space. Apt 22J at most should be marketed at 4 rooms with the alcove space converted to a walled bedroom. The original JR4 layout is 3.5 rooms.


UrbanDigs Says: This is NOT a rip on any of the brokers or firms they work at in the above example! This is a common mistake in the industry (as agents are responsible for filling in their own listings data, with rare backup checks on accuracy) and since room count is generally NOT a criteria included in most of the online real estate search sites, its something that often goes unnoticed. The point of this post is to educate you on how the number of rooms is calculated so that you are savvy enough to realize when a error like this one is marketed to you. In my opinion, misrepresentation of total square footage or a certain type of view is much worse than misrepresenting the number of rooms. Its even rare that a buyer will ask for a certain number of rooms unless they are aware of this practice and want a true two or three bedroom property. But still a good topic to discuss and pass on to you.

A simple guide for you (Living room assumed):

Studio w/ Pullman Kitchen - 1 Room
Straight Studio w/ Separate Kitchen - 2 Rooms
Alcove Studio w/ Separate Kitchen - 2.5 Rooms
Straight 1BR w/ Separate Kitchen - 3 Rooms
JR4 w/ Separate Kitchen - 3.5 Rooms
2BR w/ Separate Kitchen - 4 Rooms
2BR + Alcove Dining Area w/ Separate Kitchen - 4.5 Rooms
2BR + Dining Room w/ Separate Kitchen - 5 Rooms
2BR + Dining Room + Maids Room w/ Separate Kitchen - 6 Rooms (Classic 6)
3BR + Dining Room + Maids Room w/ Separate Kitchen - 7 Rooms (Classic 7)
4BR + Dining Room + Maids Room w/ Separate Kitchen - 8 Rooms (Classic 8)

If you are looking for more than 8 rooms you are too rich to care if the listing is right or not!