Per­fect f i t

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Front Page -

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.

Ted Rhodes, Cal­gary Her­ald

KATHY MCCORMICK Buyer Brenda Sproul bought a town­house in the Sil­ver Sky Court project in Sil­ver­ado.

The el­e­gant kitchen.

Ted Rhodes, Cal­gary Her­ald

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.

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