Yeah, we’ve finally started to buy a house. It’s being built right now for us in Airdrie, a ‘city’ of 30,000 people, just north of Calgary (about 15kms to be exact). It’ll be a retreat from the hustle
and bustle of living in the suburbia sprawl of Calgary, even though Airdrie will be probably just as busy as Calgary in a few years. Nevertheless, we’re excited to finally have a place we can call our own. It’ll be a townhouse, but definitely a good starter for this area. We visited the building
site this weekend and took a few photos of the process. The painted photo is what it will look like when it’s finished.
With the plans to buy a house, we were also introduced to the craziness that is found in the Calgary housing market. We never realized how cut-throat the business is here, especially with buying a house. You don’t necessarily have to ‘sell’ houses to people here, you could get away with a sign-up sheet on the door. For us, it was a struggle just to put a house on hold until we were able to confirm a mortgage, as one we had put on hold sold under our feet for someone else who had all that already arranged. Later, we would find out that 6 more lots/houses had sold in just 3 or 4 days since we had looked at one. Mortgages are approved in a day here and if you’re not building, any longer could cost you your ‘bid’ or possible ownership.
Essentially, there are so many people trying to buy a house here, it’s
made it a seller’s market. Houses go for sale for an afternoon and end
up being sold for much more than the asking price as people are
competing to buy houses. For example, some friends of ours recently
sold their house in the Silver Springs area of Calgary. They bought it two years ago
and fixed it up a bit. After two years, their house was worth over
$100,000 more than what they paid for it. On the day they ‘put it for
sale’ they had 38 viewings of the house in 10 hours. After that, five
people already had offers for them. From experiences of others in the
same area, offers were for $40,000+ than the asking price. Imagine
that! Basically, people want into houses now — and will pay to have a
desirable one. Housing prices are going up each week here, making it
very difficult for anyone who’s starting off to buy.
If building in the Calgary area — you go to see a ‘show-home’ — put on by a property owner and builder. You pick what ‘options’ you want (much like buying a car) and they build the house, with your interior. Many of the houses are the same, with slight modifications to the inside. You don’t get to make your own houses around here — or have your own plans — as it’s all dictated by the land owners and builders. Houses are maximum 10 ft apart, even in the high-end areas of town. Basically, owning land is a joke here, as many of the lots are just about the size of the house, plus or minus a few feet. Of course, land
is also going up. I’ve seen lots that were 16ft X 30 feet being sold
for over $80,000. ‘Acreages’ go for over a million dollars. A sharp contrast to the $1,500/acre at home.
So for those who didn’t know, that’s a taste of the things a person faces while trying to buy a house in Calgary. It’ll likely end up like Vancouver in a few years, that’s for sure.