7 surprising features that can make an apartment a penthouse, even if it's not

luxury apartmentToday, a penthouse is not necessarily on the top floor.Getty Images/Inti St Clair

  • Today’s “penthouse” is no longer just the traditionally-defined top-floor apartment of a residential building.
  • Today, real estate brokers call apartments penthouses if they possess certain sought-after features that include unique layouts, ample outdoor space, high ceilings, and fantastic views — even if they’re not on the top floor.
  • Other surprising features that can snag an apartment penthouse status include additional luxury amenities other units don’t have and more square footage than the actual top-floor unit.

Traditionally, a penthouse is known as the top-floor apartment of a residential building. Today, however, there are several surprising features that can make real estate agents call an apartment a penthouse — even if it’s not on the top floor.

“… The term penthouse has evolved a little bit from the traditional sense of the top-floor apartment — which is the penthouse — to more of a marketing term in general to help achieve sometimes higher sales figures and a distinction from other units in the building,” Steve Gold, a luxury real estate agent at Corcoran and star of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York,” previously told Business Insider.

If a unit has more square footage than the top-floor unit, a unique layout, or luxury amenities not found in other units, for example, there’s a good chance it’ll be dubbed a penthouse if it’s toward the top of the building. And sometimes these units are more attractive than the true penthouse.

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“Contrary to popular belief, sometimes the top penthouse isn’t the best penthouse in the building,” Gold said. “There could be ones in the building with larger terraces or more unobstructed views, depending on the property.”

Alex Lavrenov, a broker at Warburg Realty, told Business Insider he thinks the term “penthouse” should only apply to top-floor units. It’s an exclusive label comparable to “a Fifth Avenue address,” he said.

Here are seven features that can make real estate brokers call an apartment a penthouse, even if it’s not on the top floor.

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