Lofts are distinct from condos in style, although condos and lofts are essentially the same: both are condos when it comes down to the type of homeownership offered, which is the ownership of a unit in a building with shared common elements.
The history of lofts and condos
Where lofts truly originated is up for debate. In the mid 1800s, French artists made their studios in loft spaces because they needed the room. In addition, while lofts are considered high-end living today, they were illegal in New York and decidedly anti-establishment as starving artists took over abandoned factories and warehouses in early 1940s SoHo. Between the 1970s and 1980s, other New Yorkers picked up on this and created residential lofts, which spread throughout the United States.
In Toronto, lofts appeared in Bloor West during the early 1980s and took off in the 1990s. They were also a popular way to revitalize older buildings, which was something Toronto needed.
As for condominiums, they date back centuries around the world but are rather new in North America. After World War II, most homes available in the United States were co-ops, which were more trouble than they were worth at the time. Condominiums developed to solve problems that persisted with co-ops, namely that co-ops could not be mortgaged and this made it difficult for many to afford them. In Canada, the first high-rise and low-rise condos were registered in 1967 in Nepean, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta, respectively.
The value of hard lofts
Hard lofts, or “authentic” lofts that have been converted from old buildings such as factories or warehouses, can arguably retain their value better than traditional condos because they are in low supply and high demand. Not to mention that developers can’t easily satisfy this demand, as authentic lofts cannot be built on any empty parking lot – you need a quality historic building that can be retrofitted as a residential space. And there aren’t many of those left in Toronto…
Condos vs. Lofts
Choosing between a loft and a condo is simply a matter of personal taste.
Condos can be more affordable than hard lofts and range considerably in style.
Hard lofts are more rare, and this can make them alluring – and expensive – although that doesn’t mean the same, wide-open aesthetic layout of a loft can’t be found for less in a condo: these are simply called soft lofts, because they are not converted old buildings. Soft lofts could be considered a happy medium, offering the look and feel of a loft for the price and availability of a more traditional condo.
Again, it’s just personal taste. In addition, keep in mind that any type of building – condo or loft – can be rife with structural issues, or on the other hand be reputable and sound, so it’s important to know the building – whichever type it is – before buying. We’ve carefully selected the most reputable buildings we know of in Toronto and am more than happy to share our knowledge. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us!
- Paul Stavro-Beauchamp &Robert Van Rhijn