In the heart of notoriously car-loving Calgary, there could soon be a tower with 168 condo suites and not a single place for automobiles.

The tower would be located at 8th Avenue S.E. and 4th Street, near a future East Village supermarket and less than two blocks from the City Hall LRT. There would be ample bike parking, but no stalls for tenants or visitors.

Knightsbridge Homes, the developer, estimates the units will cost $75,000 less that condos that come with parking. There’s growing public demand, mostly among younger homebuyers.

The unprecedented East Village proposal still needs council approval — which is far from certain — but it won a unanimous OK at the Calgary Planning Commission on Thursday.

The condo tower will go next to council this spring for final zoning approval.

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Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation is partnering with Truman Homes to deliver 42 new attainable homes by the end of this year in a new development called Glenbrook Park in the city’s southwest.

 

The apartment condos range in size from 600 to 1,050 square feet with one, two and two-bedroom-plus-den units with a starting price of $256,500 to $325,000.

 

AHCC president said demand for attainable homes is steady in the city. The non-profit organization, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary, helps people get into home ownership by offering below-market prices on apartment condos and town houses with a $2,000 deposit requirement.

 

There is demand for service and homes because the vacancy rate in Calgary is low and the cost of renting remains high.

 

In the first quarter of this year, AHCC has sold 45 homes.

 

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A recent slip in oil prices hasn’t bucked Alberta’s housing market from being one of the country’s most affordable, according to a report released by RBC Economic Research on Wednesday.

 

Economists attribute the province’s housing market buoyancy to factors including a strong energy-backed economy, rising incomes, and a population boom. And the results speak for themselves: home resales in Alberta increased by 0.9 per cent from last quarter, setting a new record high.

 

The report reveals the cost of an average detached bungalow in Alberta to be $405,700, a standard two-storey home slightly more at $410,200, and a condo at $242,800.

 

The province’s affordability reputation is drawing more and more prospective buyers. For example, housing demand in Calgary is outpacing supply despite new listings increasing 17 per cent in the second and third quarters.

 

It’s an effect that’s pushing the city's home prices up “at the fastest pace in Canada.”

As for affordability complaints, the report suggests they are “almost entirely” centered in Vancouver and Toronto’s competitive markets where dollars are “most stretched.”

 

Nationally, RBC’s affordability index eased slightly by 0.2 percentage points to 47.8 per cent for two-storey homes, decreased 0.3 percentage points to 27.1 per cent for condos, and increased by 0.1 percentage points to 42.6 per cent for detached condos.

 

The index calculates affordability by scoring the percentage of median household income (before taxes) needed to make mortgage, utility, and property tax payments.

 

For cash-strapped prospective homebuyers, RBC economists say condos continue to be the “more affordable ownership option” in nearly every market.

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Homes by Avi has swung the doors open on two new showhomes in its Sunset Ridge Street Towns in Cochrane.

 

Sales for the homes were launched last year and now Homes by Avi is giving customers the full Street Town experience.

 

Street Towns have redefined townhome living. It offers the benefit of having the entire package available to our buyers — the home, yard and garage — without the hassle of a condo board and condo fees.

 

A favourite with buyers has been the Street Towns’ private backyards. Customers really like their own, clearly defined space to use as they wish.

 

The Street Towns feature a number of floor plan options, ranging from 1,200 sq. ft. to 1,300 sq. ft., most with an open-concept main floor, 2.5 baths and spacious laundry room.

 

Buyers may choose a three-bedroom layout with ensuite and main bath on the upper level or two master bedrooms with ensuites.

 

All homes include laminate flooring, granite or quartz in the kitchen, stainless steel appliances, a rear garage and a private, landscaped backyard.

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The effects of slumping oil prices on housing affordability remained modest and largely isolated to Calgary during the fourth quarter of 2014, but “more substantial consequences are likely to emerge in the coming quarters,” says a new report released Tuesday by RBC Economics.

The latest Housing Trends and Affordability Report said affordability improved in Calgary from the previous quarter as homebuyers “exited the market en masse” in December with listings rising and major cutbacks in the oil industry contributed to a drop in housing market confidence.

That continued in the early part of 2015 as MLS sales in Calgary dropped more than 30 per cent year-over-year in both January and February.

RBC’s affordability measures for Calgary in the fourth quarter of 2014 fell 0.2 percentage points to 20.0 per cent for condos, by 0.4 percentage points to 33.9 per cent for two-storey homes and by 0.6 percentage points to 33.7 per cent for bungalows.

The RBC Housing Affordability measure captures the proportion of median pre-tax household income required to pay the cost of a mortgage on an existing housing unit at going market prices, including principal and interest, property taxes and utilities.

The report said RBC’s affordability measures for Alberta were stable for both two-storey homes (33.9 per cent) and condos (20.4), while the measure for detached bungalows eased by 0.4 percentage points to 32.4 per cent.

Nationally, affordability measures rose by 0.1 per cent for bungalows to 42.7 per cent and by 0.2 per cent for two-storey homes to 48.1 per cent. It was stable at 27.4 per cent for condos.

RBC’s housing affordability measure for the benchmark detached bungalow in Canada’s largest cities in the fourth quarter: Vancouver 82.4 (down 1.2 percentage points)); Toronto 56.8 (up 0.8 percentage points); Montreal 37.3 (unchanged); Ottawa 36.0 (up 0.2 percentage points); Calgary 33.7; and Edmonton 33.5 (up 0.1 percentage points).

"Calgary has remained an affordable city and that really hasn’t changed. We’re still one of the most affordable big cities next to Edmonton and that position hasn’t changed,” said the president of the Calgary Real Estate Board.

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