Prices help boost de­mand

Du­plexes and town­homes pop­u­lar choice

Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - JOSH SKAPIN

While con­struc­tion starts of apart­ments in the Cal­gary area dropped in March com­pared to a year ear­lier, starts for both du­plexes and town­homes soared, says a fed­eral agency.

To­tal con­struc­tion of mul­ti­fam­ily devel­op­ment in the Cal­gary cen­sus met­ro­pol­i­tan area eased to 390 starts last month, down 39 per cent from 639 in March 2012, says Canada Mort­gage and Hous­ing Corp.

The Cal­gary cen­sus met­ro­pol­i­tan area in­cludes out­ly­ing com­mu­ni­ties such as Air­drie, Cochrane and Ch­ester­mere.

But most of last month’s de­cline was from a 298 per cent de­cline in apart­ment starts. There were 128 apart­ments un­der­way in March, down from 510 starts dur­ing the same time last year.

“It isn’t un­usual to see some larger swings in apart­ment starts on a monthly ba­sis,” says se­nior mar­ket an­a­lyst Richard Cho of Canada Mort­gage and Hous­ing Corp. “Given the na­ture of some of th­ese larger apart­ment projects, we will see some larger changes.”

Last year’s 510 apart­ment starts was “a bit el­e­vated,” says Cho. “We don’t usu­ally see quite that many starts in a given month. To­wards the end of 2011 and be­gin­ning of 2012 we saw sev­eral hun­dred starts ev­ery month which led to some of the in­creases in the multi-fam­ily seg­ment for that year.”

But for the rest of the mul­ti­fam­ily mar­ket last month, con­struc­tion starts climbed.

Shov­els in the ground on du­plexes im­proved 159 per cent to 140 starts in March, up from 54 dur­ing the same month last year.

“They’re a good op­tion for a num­ber of buy­ers,” says Cho about du­plexes. “They of­fer more space than an apart­ment unit, on av­er­age, and have a sim­i­lar feel to a sin­gle-de­tached home while priced a bit lower.” Town­homes also took an up­ward turn last month com­pared to a year ear­lier with a 62 per cent climb, reach­ing 122 starts com­pared to 75 a year ago.

“There is most def­i­nitely a strong mar­ket out there for multi-fam­ily hous­ing,” says Char­ron Un­gar, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Home Builder’s As­so­ci­a­tion-Cal­gary Re­gion, adding town­homes and apart­ments are sell­ing rel­a­tively briskly.

“I feel that although we are not fac­ing large scale is­sues with qual­i­fy­ing buy­ers, the mar­ket is deal­ing with is­sues re­gard­ing af­ford­abil­ity,” says Un­gar, who is also pres­i­dent of Avi Ur­ban.

“And a size­able pro­por­tion of multi-fam­ily buy­ers are do­ing so be­cause of an ex­ist­ing de­mand for new hous­ing, but a high price bracket for sin­gle de­tached homes. Multi-fam­ily homes are there­fore the cost ef­fec­tive alternative to home own­er­ship.”

Cal­gary Her­ald/files

Du­plex and town­house con­struc­tion soared in March com­pared to the same month in 2012.

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