The Difference Between Condos, Apartments, Flats, and Lofts
By Angela Zuniga
If you are in the process of finding new housing then you have probably seen these words thrown around: apartment, condo, flat, and loft. Whether this is the first time you have searched for your own housing or the tenth, these words can bring anyone confusion. To the untrained eyes there could be no difference between the four, but someone in the real estate industry would tell you differently. Here are the main differences between an apartment, a condo, a loft, and a flat.
While comparing apartments and condos physically there is no difference. The difference lies in the ownership.
Usually, those who are interested in a condo are interested in investing into owned property. As opposed to apartments where your rent goes to your landlord, buying and paying off a condo is a form of investing in yourself. A perk of owning a condo is that you have the ability to customize it as you please. A downside, you’re completely responsible for the maintenance of the property. The addition of monthly Home Owner Association fees contribute to the maintenance of common areas and building exteriors of the community.
Also, unlike apartments, condos do not have a property manager. Instead, the community is usually managed by a committee formed by the residence.
As a leasee of an apartment you enter an agreement (a lease) that usually covers a time period of a year, but can vary. Your agreement has terms that include rent. The maintenance of the apartment falls under the landlord or property managers responsibility.
Having an apartment gives you more flexibility and freedom than owning condo because when the lease is up you can choose to move without going through a selling process. However, unlike with a condo, your monthly payment may periodically change due to a change in the lease agreements year by year.
While an apartment is usually a single level rental that is part of a large building of other apartments a flat is usually a single family home where each level has been converted to a separate dwelling. Each floor of the building is rented by someone different or the owner of the building occupies one level and rents out the others. Flats are more common in older buildings found in the UK and nearly all other commonwealth countries.
A loft is generally a large open space without any internal walls aside from the restroom’s. There are usually found in buildings that were once a warehouse or for commercial use. The industrial building is converted into living space that is characterized by high ceilings; exposed piping, ventilator tubes, and support beams and poles; wooden or concrete floors; as well as oversized, and often floor-to-ceiling, windows. Lofts were originally meant to be cheap living accommodations for artists where they would work and live.
In some areas, a loft apartment refers to an apartment that has an upstairs/overhead loft area that is partially open to, and overlooks, the main living space.