In big cities like Toronto or Calgary, buying a detached family home is swiftly becoming beyond the means of most people. With housing in such high demand, its much more likely that you'll find yourself purchasing a condo or a loft instead unless you want to expand your search area a smaller city that fits your budget. If this is your first time looking for property in the big city, you might not be clear on what the difference is between a condo and a loft. This article should clear up any confusion.
Legally speaking, a condo is any type of property that consists of one unit in a larger complex that is available for private sale. When you look at a condo in Spokane for instance, you're essentially looking at an apartment you can purchase outright instead of renting. You won't own the entire building it's a part of, but you will have the right to use its public areas and you will also be able to alter anything you like about your unit as long as it doesn't affect the structural integrity of the building.
Many people look for condo properties because they are easier to maintain than detached homes in addition to (sometimes) being cheaper. You won't have to do the upkeep on the heating and cooling systems, roof, and exterior, nor mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, or wash the outside of your windows; however, you will be responsible for paying a portion of the cost of this upkeep, which is shared among the building's residents. It's called a condo fee and it can be fairly expensive.
By contrast, a loft describes any unit with high ceilings and an open plan. Lofts are often created by converting former industrial or warehouse space into living quarters and are always a part of a larger complex. Because most of the early lofts were large and open without a separate bedroom space, they are often described as live/work spaces. They are also often called artist lofts as the first lofts were cheap, basic spaces in downtrodden areas, though today's modern lofts are much nicer (and more expensive).
Because "loft" refers to the layout of a unit and "condo" refers to the ownership of it, the two terms are not mutually exclusive. During your search of the real estate listings you will likely come across many examples of the loft condo, which is a high ceiling open plan unit that you can purchase. Loft condos are generally located in areas undergoing urban renewal and are created from low-rise industrial spaces. As such they tend not to have a lot of building features, such as a swimming pool or gym.