photo of parents buying meaning

Question: I’m shopping for my first apartment, and I’ve noticed in some real estate listings that a building accepts “parents buying” or “parents buying allowed,” or “parents buying for children.” What’s that all about? 

— On my own in Astoria 

Dear On My Own:

There are some people in this world who were born in a penthouse and act like they climbed the steps all by themselves.

New York has long attracted young out-of-towners whose parents back in Bloomfield Hills or Prairie Village or San Marino are willing to pay small fortunes so Topher or Brittany or Skipper will have a nice place to live while holding that editorial assistant job at Condé Nast or pursuing their passion for modern dance at Alvin Ailey or simply showing up at the right parties in Manhattan and the Hamptons. So it was in Edith Wharton’s day and in Edie Sedgwick’s era, and so it is for today’s top “It” girls

But New York co-op buildings, being naturally “restrictive, uncooperative and stodgy,” don’t want just any gazillionaire moving in. And certainly not just any gazillionaire’s rowdy offspring. No, buildings must draw lines somewhere. Standards must be maintained. 

So you shouldn’t be surprised if some of the city’s tonier addresses won’t accept Mummsie’s and Daddy’s check for little Harley’s modest 2-bedroom. And if young Reggie wants a home overlooking the Park, well, he’ll just have to get there on his own someday. No financing allowed.

But let’s face it, for every Fifth Avenue building that says no way, there are five on the other side of Lexington that are perfectly fine with Mom and Dad picking up the tab. Hence, the phrasing you’re asking about: “This beautiful, pet-friendly building allows pied-à-terres, parents buying for children, and has a live-in super.”  

I did a search for apartments listed with the phrase “parents buying.” In all of New York, I hit around 160 apartments, ranging from this modest studio in the East 60s to this three-bedroom, $3.7 million sponsor-unit condo in the Flatiron. 

I’m sure any member of the  Lucky Sperm Club can find just the right place in New York. As for you and the rest of us, we’ll just have to make it on our own.

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.