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When is a condo not a condo?

By: By Lucy Haines

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 26, 2014 06:00 am

THE NEW CONDO – The Avions is a new development of half-duplexes in Northridge, combining many of the features of single-family home living, with condo appeal.
THE NEW CONDO – The Avions is a new development of half-duplexes in Northridge, combining many of the features of single-family home living, with condo appeal.
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Single family home or condo? That’s the choice facing many a home shopper, especially first time buyers. But what if your heart’s desire includes a yard, garden and garage, and the budget tells you that a condo is all you can afford?

There is a “best of both worlds” solution to those with this dilemma, and it comes in the way of townhomes and half-duplexes that offer grass to mow, space for a garden, and a garage to putter in, at more affordable price points than a traditional single family model.

The Avions of Northridge is a new home community of half-duplex units—ideal for first time buyers, downsizers and investors, according to Sarasota Homes realtor Ryan Boser. The 28 two and three bedroom units of the development offer four different floor plans in a three-storey structure, and all include a tandem double-car garage with long driveway—added space to accommodate visitor vehicles.

“For the younger crowd, like first time buyers or young families, this half-duplex has appeal because it’s got the brand new finishes people want – hardwood and granite – a spacious back deck, plus room for a garden,” said Boser. “But downsizers coming from the single family home (SFH) also still want the private, backyard space – they’re not always ready to move to the more dramatic change of the apartment-style condo.”

While buyers looking at conventional high-rise condos can enter the market in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, these often older units tend to be around 800 square feet. Townhomes and half-duplexes can usually offer more space – about 1,500 square feet and up – at prices more commonly in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.

“It’s a lifestyle choice – house-like condos feel more like a single family home, and sometimes have just one common wall, a basement, and less restrictions than conventional condos. And like other condos, they can provide services like street snow removal and garbage pick-up for your monthly community fee. But you’re still in charge of cutting your own grass,” added Boser.

Condos of all types hit a sweet spot in the current real estate market, where any property in the $300,000 to $400,000 range is a hot ticket in the Edmonton region. Boser said St. Albert doesn’t have much in the way of newer townhomes, but Edmonton has new pockets of such developments in the city’s north and west ends.

Longtime St. Albert realtor Mark Cassidy defines a townhome as the “next best thing to a single family home,” with those expected advantages over conventional condos: basement, garage and more space. “Many people like to have a piece of dirt,” he said.

Cassidy said there are townhomes in every part of St. Albert, and mature areas like Grandin Village can provide affordable entry into home ownership. Aging boomers moving out of the large, family home have been key to this market, but whatever the location, buyers young and old remain keen on upgraded features, he said.

“Condo prices are up over last year. In the spring there are more buyers for lower-end properties, but the summer will see more demand for mid and high-end condos,” Cassidy said.


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