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January 21, 2011

Bridgeland boon

McPherson Place is more than just attainable housing

Pepper Rodriguez

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Having a home you can call your very own is one of life’s goals, but these days, buying your own home seems so out of reach for a lot of us that we end up stuck in the rental rut. But a new development in the historic neighbourhood of Bridgeland shines a light on a bright idea that not only makes housing more attainable but teaches valuable life lessons as well.

One of the biggest hurdles to homeownership has always been the down-payment, which —  at usually five per cent of the total value of the home — turns out to be an unassailable roadblock to a lot of people, especially the young who are just starting out to live their own lives.

InHouse Attainable Housing Society, a not-for-profit agency, has found a way that removes the impediment of needing money up front to buy a home in its 160-unit, six-storey McPherson Place development in Bridgeland. InHouse is partnering with New Urban Consulting to develop the project.  The Calgary Housing Authority has purchased 58 units.

Owning a home in McPherson Place is made easy through a process called Shared Equity Lender Financing (SELF), where qualified buyers get to own a majority portion of the home and InHouse taking a minority share. Qualified buyers will own approximately 65 to 70 per cent of their unit and InHouse will have the balance of the equity, says InHouse’s  sales manager, Shannon Peters.

“The idea is to get renters out of the rut of paying for their landlord’s mortgage and get them into homeownership,” she says. “This idea has been popular in the U.S. and the U.K. but this is the first time it’s being used in Canada,” she adds.

The project is ideal for singles, couples and families who are in stable employment in industries such as office support, retail, health care and teaching. Purchasers must meet the income threshold guidelines set by InHouse.

“We see McPherson Place as the first of a series of similar projects that not only provide a viable alternative to renting, but as a tool that also teaches valuable life lessons to owners on the responsibilities of homeownership,” she says.

InHouse started accepting applications in October of last year and even though they have played it quietly just to gauge the market, response has been tremendous and they received 197 registrations which are now being qualified, Peters says.

McPherson Place is being built in the heart of Calgary’s vibrant community of Bridgeland, only minutes to downtown. Not a more apt location can be found, as this inner city community is just a short walk to the downtown core and is right on the route of public transportation, with the LRT Station just down the road. Also, the historic significance of Bridgeland as a haven for Calgary’s new immigrants during the city’s founding days gives McPherson Place further relevance.

“We are confident McPherson Place will add to the strong sense of community Bridgeland already has, there are parks and pathways nearby, there are already plenty of unique restaurants and coffee shops in the immediate vicinity and downtown is just a short walk away, everything anyone can really need is within arm’s reach” says Judy Hoad, InHouse’s board chair.

The building itself is a model of cutting-edge design, as it combines energy-efficient engineering and architectural style, and features studio, one- and two-bedroom suites. Ranging in size from 467 to 968 square-feet. Prices start at $131,000.

Each home will have more than average standard features that include hardwood and ceramic tile floors, stainless steel appliances and even granite countertops. Being affordable never looked so good.

What McPherson Place really does is empower pre-qualified and approved purchasers to move into newly built market-value homes with no upfront down-payment require coupled with low monthly mortgage payments.

 “Purchasers enter into a shared-equity relationship with the SELF group, participate in the increasing equity accumulating in their homes, and enjoy unencumbered ownership and enjoyment of their property,” Peters says.

 There are no on-site offices yet, but interested parties are encouraged to check out the McPherson Place website for more information. CL


Fast Facts

Community: Bridgeland

Project: McPherson Place

Developer: New Urban Consulting on behalf of InHouse Attainable Housing Society

Style: Apartment condos

Size: From 467 to 968 sq.ft.

Price: Starts at $131,000

Address: 925 McPherson Road N.E.



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