Calgary is enjoying a string of 32 consecutive months where home prices have increased. While this is great news for the real estate agents and the market itself, it isn’t great news for those who are having a hard time scraping together a down payment for a home while paying high rents in this expensive city.
Over the past few months, the market has seen a higher than average shift in focus from single family homes to condo apartment and condo townhomes, and the reason is simple—they are cheaper, but for those who are lost in the widening affordability gap it won’t matter, their dream of owning a home will be pushed further and further into the future.
Well, maybe not necessarily. Created in 2009, the Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation seeks to change all that and get qualified buyers into their own homes now rather than later. Yes, it is a real thing and yes, they can help you, if you meet the criteria, move into your very own home complete with all the amenities you want, close to parks, schools and shopping, and located at sites all over the city. AHCC is a non-profit that is a wholly owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary and they work to “deliver well-appointed entry level homes for Calgarians who have been caught up in the city’s growing affordability gap”. They work with seven different builders and developers and has already sold homes in eleven different developments all over the city including Mount Pleasant 1740, Westbury Park, ZEN in Balance, Treo at Beacon Heights and SkyWest. Just recently they reached their first major milestone: the 500th sale of an affordable new home for a happy family.
Recently, they purchased property at 51 Oak in the SE community of Mahogany which, upon completion next year will include in-suite washer and dryer, granite countertops, cork flooring, maintenance free decks with BBQ gas lines and a stainless steel appliance package. The best part of the deal of course is the price—owners put $2000 down and get a minimum mortgage of $201,400 and they are eligible to become homeowners. That is a far cry from going the ‘ordinary’ route of finding a property and paying the massive down payment while having a looming mortgage, no matter how low the mortgage rates may be at the moment.
So what are the criteria?
-Your maximum household income is $90,000/ year for single or dual parent families with dependent children living at home.
-The maximum household income is $80,000/year for singles or couples with no dependent children living at home.
-Your assets are less than $100,000 (excluding such things as your primary vehicle, pension, RESP’s and RRSP’s)
-You can qualify for a mortgage and put $2000 of your own money down on your new home.
-You are willing to take part in their home education sessions and your attainable home will be your primary residence.
Many people who are hearing about this program for the first time wonder if it is real, and indeed it is, as the 500 people who are now homeowners can attest. They do it by bringing builders, lenders, lawyers and insurance companies together to bring down the upfront costs of purchasing a home and they work with three key elements: attractive home prices, forgivable equity loans and a shared appreciation.
To date, 1500 people from all walks of life have expressed interest in the program and more than 3,700 people have taken part in the home education session which is one of the mandatory steps in the process. The shared appreciation part of the experience allows you to make money on your home (appreciation) when you go to sell, with percentages of this appreciation (depending on how long you own the home) going back to AHCC to help them fund other sites.
If you would like more information on the great work that the Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation is doing you can visit their website at www.attainablehomescalgary.ca.