Love and marriage had come for Sarah and Kyle Witiw, but the baby in the baby carriage? Not within the constraints of their 700-square-foot Oliver apartment. “We were climbing all over each other,” says Sarah, a 29-year-old representative with Red Cross. So they sought out a home for their inevitably growing family.
Sarah would have been happy living in any far-flung suburb like the one in which she grew up, but Kyle, a city planner and bike commuter who’s lived centrally for 11 years, insisted it be downtown. “With my planner background, I’m probably just a little too particular,” he says. Sarah, too, was particular, but about extra space—especially in the kitchen. “I’m Ukrainian, so…” she deadpans. But the first-time homebuyers’ $400,000 budget proved it difficult to find a central single-family detached home that wasn’t a fixer-upper.
After exhausting 42 houses within a few kilometres of their downtown offices, they were ready to give up. Then, in July 2014, Kyle discovered two downtown lofts spacious enough for a family of three or four. “I believe his words were, ‘Just humour me,’” recalls Sarah. “So I did, grumbling all the way there.” Suddenly the debate wasn’t whether there’d be enough space for her feasts, but which kitchen would be her new workshop.
Beatty Lofts 10265 107 ST.
Square Footage: 889
Condo Fees: $525 (Incl. heat and water)
Listed Price $369,800
Upsides: Awesome lighting fixtures; Exposed Brick; Bedroom Skylight; Community Patio
Downsides: Too small for planned family; Cramped Kitchen; No Covered Parking; Parking-Lot View
Kyle immediately fell in love with the industrial chic loft’s exposed brick and beams, while Sarah’s attention was drawn to an extravagant wrought iron chandelier in the dining area. The wrap-around windows forgave the parking-lot view, and a bedroom skylight deflected attention from the small built-in bed. But stylish as it was, the layout was inflexible for their future plans. When the bidding war got too hot, they took it as a sign to back out.
Morris Lofts 10154 103 ST
Square Footage: 1,340
Condo Fees: $400 (Incl. heat and water)
Listed Price: $430,000
Upsides: Spacious; Massive Kitchen; Bedroom Barn Doors; Stone’s Throw From Jobs and 104th Street; Flexible Design
Downsides: Outdated Bathroom; Hidden Brick; No Visitor Parking or Patio
There was 1910 brick somewhere behind the beige walls, but Kyle quickly accepted they’d never get to it. The bathroom also needed work. Instead he and Sarah fixated on barn bedroom doors, matching new appliances and eight-minute walks to their offices. And then there’s space: an island bigger than their last kitchen and a living room that can easily be framed off for a baby room. After they brought the seller’s price closer to their budget, Sarah was convinced. “After living here,” she now says, “I can’t imagine living any further.”
Median Selling Price Aug – Oct 2015
Oliver: $235,000 (-$20,000 from Aug-Oct 2014)
– difference from listing price: +100
– days on market: 42 (+2 from Aug-Oct 2014)
Downtown: $327,000 (+19,500 from Aug-Oct 2014)
– difference from listing price: -3,449
– days on market: 36 (-5 from Aug-Oct 2014)
Provided by Realtors© Association of Edmonton