Jarred and Shaaz Jusko Friedman, recently bought a two-storey, semi-detached home in the popular community of Cooper’s Crossing in Airdrie. Photo by Adrian Shellard/For CREB®Now

Satellite communities offer more bang for your buck

Landing your dream home can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But if the financial stars don’t align the way you’d hoped, you may have to manage your expectations.

Such was the case for Jarred Jusko Friedman and his wife Shaaz, who decided to buy their first home last fall, after renting in Calgary’s northeast community of Skyview Ranch.

“We started looking, but we soon found we weren’t even able to get into the market at our target price range,” said Friedman, adding that the only viable option in their price range was a townhome.

“We wanted to buy property in Calgary, preferably in the northwest,” said Friedman, adding that they were many other items on their wish list. These included: a relatively new build; three bedrooms; a developed basement to accommodate extended visits from his wife’s family; green space; a garage; and a walkable community.

And so, the couple turned their sights toward the satellite community of Airdrie.

“Airdrie wasn’t our first choice, but we realized we could get more in Airdrie for the same price as a townhome in Calgary,” said Friedman.

“We started looking, but we soon found we weren’t even able to get into the market at our target price range.”

The couple ended up purchasing a two-storey, semi-detached, 1698-square-foot home in the neighbourhood of Cooper’s Crossing. Only three years old, the property came complete with a yard, a developed basement, three bedrooms on the second floor, a fireplace and high ceilings on the main. While the list price was $410,000, the couple secured their new home for $390,000.

Friedman and his wife exemplify the reason many folks opt to buy a home in one of Calgary’s satellite communities: affordability.

A similar comparison can be found when looking at detached homes. In 2016, the annual average benchmark price for a detached home in Calgary was $502,242 (down 3.23 per cent from 2015). In Airdrie, the corresponding benchmark price was approximately $115,000 lower, at $385,617 (2.88 per cent less than in 2015). The only satellite community with a lower detached benchmark price than Airdrie is Strathmore, coming in at $365,186.

“Strathmore and Calgary are tied together,” said Chuck Procter, a planner with the Town of Strathmore. “We have many commuters who live in Strathmore, where houses are cheaper than they are in the City.”

When speaking of the Strathmore market, Procter says there were only 54 new housing starts in 2016, compared to 125 in 2015.

“Strathmore is a buyers’ market, similar to Calgary,” he said. “It’s sluggish, but new houses are selling.”

Like Strathmore, Cochrane is also experiencing a slower growth rate than in years past. Mike Korman, economic development manager for the Town of Cochrane, says he’s not concerned.

“To have a year that’s a little bit slower, with a three- to four- per cent growth rate, we’re not panicking,” he said. “We still have housing starts happening. If we had a negative growth rate, then we’d start to look at it.”

While new housing starts dropped by around 40 per cent between 2015 and 2016, Korman says there’s lot of choice in the market.

“We’re seeing assessment values go down,” he said. “If you are looking to buy, then this is a favourable market.”

As for Friedman and his wife, they couldn’t be happier with their new home in Airdrie.

“It’s one we can grow into,” he said, adding that the move only added ten minutes onto his existing commute.