If you are looking for a place to call home in the downtown area of any city, you are most likely seeing real estate advertisements for lofts and condos. Many people are confused by the distinction between the two terms; after all, both types of living space are high density and usually can be found in multi-unit buildings.
In fact, a loft is more or less a sub genre of the condominium style of real estate. They are units typically located in multi-unit buildings with shared entrances and lobbies, much the same as condominiums. The main difference is in the design of the units.
Those units referred to as lofts tend to have very high ceilings and open floor plans; often they will have only one or two rooms. They have long been known as the ideal home for different types of artist due to a large amount of working space; downtown lofts long been some of the most sought after pieces of real estate around.
Proper condominiums, on the other hand, like condominiums on Toronto's waterfront, tend to have lower ceilings and a few more walls within the units. There are also typically amenities associated with condos suites that are not common with loft suites; a modern condo, for example, will probably come with membership to the building's health club. The esoteric nature of the loft rules this possibility out in most cases.
Finally, lofts tend to be renovations that have been completed within buildings that have abandoned their original purpose. A condo complex will likely have been designed as such, whereas a loft building in the same area was probably once a manufacturing plant or warehouse. It is fairly simple to add some floors within an abandoned warehouse and convert this space to lofts and provides a different type of living than you will see with a house.
While you may see housing units referred to as "loft condos", it is important to note that there are several differences between the two types of unit. Each will appeal to a different sort of person.