As the fastest-growing metropolis in Canada, Calgary seems to have everything, from economic prosperity to entrepreneurial opportunity. Everything, that is, except available housing. The Calgary Real Estate Board stats at the beginning of 2013 bear this out, with less than 3,000 available units listed, a 15 per cent drop from the end of 2011.
In response, the sod in outlying areas is being turned faster than ever, with new neighbourhoods like Auburn Bay, Evanston, Sherwood and Walden popping literally out of what used to be grassland. That’s kept such builders as Melcor, Homes by Avi, Jayman, Landmark, Greenboro and scores of others busy trying to keep pace with the demand, which shows no sign of stopping.
Consumers are also looking at resale homes, dwellings that have existed for years, which have become available in older neighbourhoods. And still others are looking at newly-built units gracing their presence on streets long familiar to Calgarians.
Choosing between a newly-built or resale home almost always comes down to personal preference. And like any other lifestyle option, each type of unit has its own set of advantages.
If consumers are looking for a long-term investment, new homes are normally preferred because of their durability, thanks to improved engineering and construction technology, from the joists keeping the floor level to the insulation that protects families from the outdoor elements year-round. Materials in construction are stronger and more energy-efficient than ever, cutting down on the heating and electrical bills that plague older units. Strict adherence to building codes also cut down the risk of hazards, such as fires from faulty wiring. Such quality also decreases maintenance over time, including the urge to make repairs or renovate and the need to improve a property’s curb appeal. And most builders have warranties to safeguard their work to protect consumers from damage associated with plumbing or heating system failures. Beyond those basics, new homes also sport such perks as hardwood floors, granite countertops and the latest in stainless steel appliances.
Resale homes on the other hand have accessibility on its side, given that they are located in neighbourhoods with existing services, from convenience stores to schools within walking distance. Unlike new home neighbourhoods which usually see families residing in units that lack complete landscaping or even light standards on the streets, resale home areas have all those services intact. They also have a pocketbook advantage of not being subject to GST tacked onto the sticker price.
Recently, the federal government introduced a new home GST rebate program on units costing less than $450,000. Consumers who bought a home from a builder can apply for such a rebate within two years of possession date. Late in 2012, the provincial government offered additional consumer protection with its introduction of the New Home Buyer Protection Act, which once passed will make home warrantee coverage mandatory for builders to provide on new homes being constructed this fall. Additional stipulation include warrantees of one year for labour and materials, two years for defective materials and labour on distribution and delivery systems, five years of building envelope protection in which a builder must provide a consumer with additional years of coverage, and 10 years on major structure components.
Such legislation would also be a boon for consumers wanting to purchase an infill home: a newly-constructed unit that replaces a previous building. With all the amenities of a new home, combined with the benefits of living in a fully serviced neighbourhood, residents get the feel of getting the best of all options.
But then, if one manages to buy a home in Calgary, one already becomes the envy of the rest of Canada.