Well, it’s happening. We are moving into the era of micro-condos in the Lower Mainland. Surrey developer Tien Sher is in the process of getting approval for Balance, Canada’s smallest condo development, to Surrey City Center (Whalley, to be exact). I think they could be on to something. This development has everyone who talks about Real Estate in Vancouver abuzz.
Tien Sher’s Balance microcondo development is following suit of trends in New York, Tokyo and Paris where the solution to expensive real estate is simple: build smaller homes. With a multi-functional design you will still get everything you need in a home but with a smaller footprint and significantly smaller mortgage payments.
Did You Know? In New York City the demand for this size of apartment is huge, people are willing to pay upwards of $2,000 a month to rent a unit of this size!
Hmmm…something tells me that a 260 square foot apartment in Whalley won’t fetch as much as one of the same size in the Big Apple…but investors can hope and dream, right?
Real estate prices in the Lower Mainland are among the richest in North America. In cities like New York, Tokyo and Paris they found a solution – build smaller but build closer to amenities. We wanted to build suites that renters could afford to purchase – today. With suites starting at $109,900, if you can afford the $6,000 down payment, and you make a salary of $17 per hour, we have a home for you. – Charan Sethi, president of Tien Sher.
Young professionals, retail employees, single parents are among the anticipated buyers. As a parent of two children, I’m not sure how I’d feel about living in such small quarters with kids – however- I know millions of people around the world make micro-homes work, so maybe this is actually the direction we are headed in terms of affordable housing in the Lower Mainland. Sethi states:
Balance is unique. No suite comes with a parking stall, but they are available for purchase. A 2012 parking study we commissioned showed most purchasers will forego car ownership and its associated costs, in favor of an affordable home purchase. Balance homeowners’ transportation options include bus, Skytrain and a car-share vehicle onsite. Who needs a car with such a short walk to municipal amenities, shopping and services?
Surrey City Council will need to pass this project through three reviews this fall and then Tien Sher is expected to begin sales in January 2012. Project information will be updated at: www.tiensher.com.
What do you think? Are micro-condos crazy or are they a brilliant solution to affordability problems in Vancouver real estate?