Perfect f i t
The condo lifestyle fits all families. Brenda Sproul, for example, has an 11-year-old daughter and recently moved to a larger condo to provide more privacy for each of them.
“We were living in an 800square-foot apartment,” says the 42-year-old mother. “We wanted more separation between us and more space overall.”
Sproul had been looking for the right place for three years and decided a townhouse was a perfect fit.
“I love the concept of having my own home with a yard and singlecar garage,” she says.
“It’s quiet and I have an end unit, so that’s even better. I like the low maintenance. It’s such a great move for us.”
Sproul has moved into a new townhouse in Silver Sky Court, the first condo project under Vertical Properties, which is under the Morrison Homes’ umbrella.
It’s located in Calgary’s deep southwest in the Silverado neighbourhood by United Communities.
“We’re trying to hit the entry level and the young move-up market,” says Rob Kennedy, vice-president of Vertical Properties.
“We have been able to address affordability and we’ve had really good success, even with the downturn.”
Value is the key in today’s market, he says. “We have really good specifications and there are not a lot of townhouses being built.”
When Vertical Properties launched Silver Sky Court, “it was the heat of the market and there were a ton of highrise condos,” says Kennedy. “This is a niche for the buyer who doesn’t want single-level, apartment-style living, yet a single-family home is still out of reach for them.”
The townhouse concept offers a great opportunity for affordable housing, says Lai Sing Louie, regional economist for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. in Calgary, adding that part of the condo market is balanced.
“The condo market is strengthening this year, although the downtown condos are still over-supplied to a certain extent,” he says. “The affordability is helping people get into the housing market, even though the mortgage rates moved up a bit in July.”
The average posted fiveyear fixed mortgage rate was 4.25 per cent in June, moving up to 5.14 per cent in July.
“That is the average posted rate, but people can still nego- tiate with their lenders — and some rates, such as the open shorter-terms, are lower,” he says.
Even so, “the affordability is still better than it was a year ago,” especially considering the lower prices to buy condos today,” says Louie.
“On the resale side, when you look at the sales to active listings, it shows the condo market it getting stronger there, too.
“Earlier this year, the MLS sales showed 24.2 per cent were condos. That’s moved up to 25.6 per cent now, so the condos are picking up again.
“On the new side, we’re seeing new projects starting up again, although it’s mostly small apartments or townhouses.”
For Sproul, the economy was not a factor in her purchase.
“I bought in the spring of 2008 — stumbled on it, actually, and fell in love with the show home,” she says.
“It took a year to build and the economy was stronger at the time I bought. I expected to get more out of my apartment condo, but in the end, it was OK. I had no trouble selling it in just two weeks, although it wasn’t quite at the price I wanted.”
Her one tip for any potential homebuyers is to “check the neighbourhood. Drive around and see how it is planned and whether it has been done well.”
The developer is a key for Morrison Homes as well, says Kennedy. “With our first project, like all of the communities we are in, we wanted to make sure we had a great developer that only built topclass communities.”
That developer was United Communities — “and Silverado is a growing area with a lot going for it,” says Kennedy.
Vertical Properties has one other piece of land on the west side in Westsprings, where it is hoping to build a mixed-use development with a combination of retail, apartment-style homes and townhouses.
KATHY MCCORMICK Buyer Brenda Sproul bought a townhouse in the Silver Sky Court project in Silverado.
The elegant kitchen.
The living room of the Silver Sky Court condo project in Silverado where buyer Brenda Sproul purchased a unit.
The development is located in Silverado in the southwest.