The High Road: When outside, where are you?

You want a balcony? Take your pick.

It’s not a big deal, but have you noticed how many brokers use interchangeably the terms “balcony,” “terrace” and “patio?”

And knowing the differences ain’t that hard.  But precision in the world of real estate brokerage is everything.

In a superficial search, I didn’t find definitions of the terms in the Administrative Code of New York City, where they would be found if mentioned beyond any construction requirements.

I’ll bet you know the definitions (derived from close variations online) even if so many brokers seem to ignore them for one innocent or nefarious reason or another:

  • Balcony: A platform projecting from the interior or exterior wall of a building, usually enclosed by a rail or parapet;
  • Now that's a terrace.

  • Terrace: Also a platform extending outdoors from a floor of a house or apartment building, but resting on a lower portion of the building and usually free of overshadowing structures such as a balcony;
  • Patio: Often used synonymously with “terrace” but it is at ground level–an inner court open to the

    And that is not a patio.

    sky, a recreation area that adjoins a dwelling, often is paved and is adapted especially to outdoor dining.


Okay, I’ve taken some tiny liberties with what I found online, but I think the bullet points mesh with common understanding.

Being curmudgeonly, I prefer to work with brokers who are not too lazy to be accurate rather than glib or too dishonest to be straightforward rather than evasive.

It’s the same issue that I have with those brokers who don’t trouble to learn what separates a kitchen from a kitchenette or make any disclosures that may affect the market value of a property that they are selling.

To me it is about trust, credibility, professionalism and a belief that we brokers ought to perform at a level consistent with our commissions. Don’t you agree?

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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