New Yorker’s in search of something different are widening their options by looking at New York City lofts. With wide-open spaces with high ceilings, it’s easy to see the appeal. Nowadays they can fetch very high prices. They can also prove difficult to find due to a very limited inventory. One thing for sure, they definitely provide a different living experience to a traditional home.

So, what is a loft?

A loft apartment is usually defined as a former commercial space that has been converted into a residential area. They usually feature wide-open spaces, large windows high ceilings, columns, and exposed brick, beams and pipes. They range in size from 1400 to 2400 square feet in Manhattan. Outside Manhattan, they tend to be smaller.

As commercial companies left the city for cheaper locales they left many of these buildings abandoned. They became popular with artists who found the wide-open space easier to work in. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that they became fashionable and now they are in very high demand.

Why would a buyer prefer a loft over a traditional apartment?

Many people choose lofts for the wide-open spaces they provide and large windows which make them seem even bigger. They’re also great for accommodating a growing family. It’s easy to renovate the floor plan however you desire, making them very versatile.

Another thing people love about lofts is the original details such as exposed pipes that give it a history. Plus, all the open space is great for entertaining large numbers of guests.

What are the downsides to loft living?

For many first-timers, the level of space can be a bit disorientating. It can be difficult decorating such a large space. Whatever theme you choose has to include the whole room if you want to be consistent.

The lack of privacy is also an issue and many loft buildings lack the usual features found in condos like doormen and gyms. Also, since few are located in mixed-use areas they tend to share the block with light manufacturing which makes noise levels a problem. More often found in Brooklyn vs Manhattan.

Where can you find lofts?

You can find lofts everywhere in areas with former industrial buildings and warehouses. For Manhattan, the highest concentrations can be found in SoHo and Tribeca. Buyers can also find many in Chelsea and Flatiron. You can also find them, but in lesser numbers, in Greenwich Village and Hell’s Kitchen.

Those in Brooklyn should focus their search on Red Hook, Clinton Hill, Dumbo, and Williamsburg. Anyone in Queens should search Long Island City while in the Bronx Kingsbridge is the place to start.

Are lofts typically more or less expensive than traditional apartments?

It depends. Today, many developers are bringing the best-of-the-best in materials and finishes to loft buildings. The installation of a new kitchen and bathroom will be built into the price tag which puts developed lofts in a very high price range.

However, if you manage to find a loft in an ‘as-is’ condition and develop it yourself they can potentially be less expensive than a regular apartment. Either way, the low numbers and high demands for lofts keep them at a high price. They can make a smart investment because although only representing 10% of the condo and co-op market, those who love them will pay a high price.

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