Suburban condo living offers a wealth of benefits without inner-city prices.

Fringe benefits

Suburban condos appeal to those looking for good value

After renting a condo in Marda Loop for the past ten years, Kerri-Lyn Ouellette is moving: She’s buying a condo in the suburbs. Her choice? Hopewell Residential’s Sandgate development in Mahogany.

“Marda Loop isn’t affordable for a single woman with a middle income. Condos in the suburbs, however, are affordable,” said Ouellette, adding that Sandgate condos start in the $190s range.

Ouellette says market conditions played a primary role in her decision to buy now.

“That’s why I jumped on buying. I wanted to get in as low as possible,” she said, adding she was only considering new builds.

Having made her down payment last fall, Ouellete’s Sandgate condo will be move-in ready next month.

An affordable price point, however, isn’t the only reason Ouellette decided to move to the suburbs.

“In my younger years, it was necessary to be closer to downtown for social activities,” she said. “Now, it’s about finding balance and getting away from the hustle and bustle.”

The 30-something says that the lake in Mahogany is also among the reasons she chose to re-locate there.

“I’m a huge beach bum.”

Unlike in the inner city, the suburbs offer an incredible lifestyle with all the amenities nearby.

Furthermore, with a job in the northeastern quadrant, Ouellette says there’s no need to live in the inner city. Mahogany’s proximity to Stoney Trail will make Ouellette’s commute to work convenient.

“Change can be good for the soul,” said Ouellette, adding her new suburban home is close to many amenities including grocery stores, yoga studios and a fitness centre in her building.

In addition to those features, Sandgate units include 9-foot ceilings, stainless-steel appliances and in-suite full-sized washers and dryers.

Nicole McClaws, marketing manager for Hopewell Residential, says developments like Sandgate fill a demand in the market.

“We have found there’s a strong appetite for well-planned, well-priced homes that offer the features and designs people need,” she said.

Statistics suggest that condo inventory in Calgary is high, offering plenty of options for buyers like Ouellette.

According to CREB®’s latest monthly stats report, sluggish sales and an influx of new listings in the apartment sector are to blame for the rise in overall apartment inventory. These conditions are having an adverse effect on the apartment benchmark price, which was $269,900 in January 2017, nearly five per cent lower than last January.

With 1,269 apartment units on the market in January, the current “months of supply” for apartment units in Calgary is at 8.40.

As per the December 2016 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Housing Now Tables, there were 3,543 year-to-date apartment-style condo starts, a 21.4 per cent drop when compared to the 4,510 such starts in 2015. The same report identified there were also 804 apartment-style condo units completed and not absorbed, compared to 220 similar units completed and not absorbed in December 2015.

Bryan Logel, vice-president of sales and marketing for Copperfield Park III and My Legacy Park, numbers don’t tell the whole story, particularly when it comes to the inventory of affordable condo units from the mid-$100s to the low-$200s.

“We don’t have any inventory,” said Logel, referring to Copperfield Park III.

In fact, Logel says development’s final phase just launched on February 11 because they didn’t have any product left to sell. Of that final phase, more than 25 per cent of the 76 units released sold that same day.

“The changes in the marketplace and to mortgage rules have put more pressure on our market,” he said. “As things become less affordable, there’s more pressure on our product.”

“Try to find something in this city, under $200,000, that’s nice,” he said, adding that Copperfield Park III offers two-bed, two-bath, 850-square foot units from $189,900. “A unit like that downtown would be between $550,000 and $650,000 easily.”

Logel says this is just one of the reasons suburban condos are popular options.

“There’s a major need for affordability and high-quality affordable.”

Logel describes the various profiles of Copperfield Park III buyers: those who grew up in the surrounding communities and are just starting out; the newly single; and empty nesters, who often have grandkids in nearby communities.

“Unlike in the inner city, the suburbs offer an incredible lifestyle with all the amenities nearby,” he said.

As for Calgary’s real estate market, Logel takes an optimistic view.

“I believe there have been lots of signs that Calgary is on the road to recovery, and that it’s been occurring over the last six months.”

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