Monday, March 16, 2015

First Time Buyers: Types of Housing - The Apartment or Townhouse Purchase, Chilliwack Values


Purchasing a strata home whether it is an apartment or townhouse can be an wonderful experience.  This series of posts written for "First Time Buyers" of real estate in British Columbia is designed to familiarize the reader with some of the basic concepts, provide handy links, local benchmark pricing and hopefully assist you with your decision making.



The first part of this series discussed the principle of "caveat emptor" or "let the buyer beware".  In this province there is an onus on the buyer to conduct oneself in a thorough and businesslike manner.  This job is greatly assisted with the help of a Realtor whose local knowledge and experience will help lay the groundwork for such investigation and negotiations. 


An Apartment or Townhouse Purchase

It was less than 50 years that the first condominiums were built in the province of British Columbia.  Today, there are many different types of strata or condominiums (condos) they include apartments, townhouses, duplexes, single family houses on a bare-land strata and even commercial/industrial buildings.  For this post we will focus on apartments and townhouses.




Sometimes, terms gets confusing, are strata and condos the same thing? Yes. As a purchaser, I suggest you keep things simple,  call an apartment an apartment and a townhouse a townhouse. When I use strata or condo in this article I will be referring to both.

If almost one quarter of all British Columbia's residential ownership is in strata homes there is good reason. Condos provide affordable alternatives to the more expensive and usually older single family detached house. 

Strata developments also provide flexibility. There are many forms of strata developments catering to specific target profiles.  Chilliwack offers a multitude of apartment and townhouse options tailored to meet the needs of people at a variety of stages in life.  There are complexes designed for seniors, families, workers, people with pets and for investment. They supply in most cases added convenience (no grass to cut), security, extra amenities and as already mentioned value.

Strata developments are in a sense small communities that, beyond the structure of the Strata Property Act, set out their own rules and regulations.  Expect that some compromise, on your part, will be necessary to enjoy the benefits of condo living.  These strata corporations will have bylaws and regulations that will affect your use and enjoyment.  In many cases they will serve to enhance it but not always. The strata corporation will be organized in a democratic form with representatives who are your neighbours. Every strata will be unique to some degree so investigating strata documents is a must.

The obligations of a strata owner are somewhat similar to owning a house with the exception that a monthly strata fee and sometimes a special levy must be paid.  Owner's will usually be responsible for the interior of the home but share in the expenses of the exterior and "common" property of the development.

Both the financial environment and lifestyle attributes of the strata must be weighed carefuly before committing yourself to a purchase.  You are looking for a good fit.  Be sure to ask lots of questions, no such thing as a bad one, and get professional real estate advice.

Values are affected by a number of factors: age, size, finish, location and public acceptance. 

Apartments

Chilliwack* has only three concrete hi-rise apartment buildings partly due to the availability of cheap development land for frame built structures and the expense associated with concrete construction.




Most apartments, then are of frame construction, changes to the building code in 2014 allowed apartment building to rise to 6 storeys when extra fire safety systems are in place. Previously the height had been restricted to 3 storeys above parking. For the most part, Chilliwack has seen very few of these taller buildings but I anticipate that will change.

To provide you with some idea of present listing prices in Chilliwack, March 2015, the following chart is offered.

Apartments

  • HIGH* - $327,000
  • LOW* - $34,900
  • AVERAGE* Total - $147,000
  • Average One Bedroom - $109,000
  • Average Two Bedroom - $160,000
  • Average Three Bedroom + $210,000
  • MEDIAN* - $137,500
* Values as of March 16, 2015 - amounts rounded


Townhouses

Chilliwack has a tremendous supply of townhouses in all areas offering modern interiors and convenient locations.

townhouses under construction

Townhouses
  • HIGH* - $569,900
  • LOW* - $110,000
  • AVERAGE* - $257,000
  • Average One Bedroom - No data
  • Average Two Bedroom - $164,000
  • Average Three Bedroom - $210,000
  • Average Four Bedroom - $232,000
  • MEDIAN* - $254,500
* Values as of March 16, 2015 - amounts rounded


NOTES:
  1. Condominiums whether townhouses or apartments are administered under the British Columbia Strata Property Act. Further rules and regulations can be added by each individual Strata Council.
  2. Suggested reading: Buying a Home in BC by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia
  3. Download a copy of the Condominium's Buyer's Guide from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation at www.cmhc.ca or try this more direct link.
  4. Always use a professional agent to purchase or sell real estate - I know that sounds self-serving - but, real estate is a lot more complex than many know.  If you are looking in the eastern Fraser Valley or want a referral to real agent in your area, please give me a call or send me an email. If you call my office 604-792-0077, ask for Steve Mullock, we have 5 Steve's in the office!
  5. In the First Time Buyer series an earlier post looked at the cheapest Chilliwack's* housing option - the mobile or modular home

Imagine living here...

All pictures from Garrison Crossing, Chilliwack, BC© Stephen Mullock 2015

Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

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