Caitlin McElhone and Scott Jendruck needed a place big enough for two home businesses and a new baby, but they weren’t willing to sacrifice their cherished stretch of Oliver on 98 Ave. The solution? Advertise themselves as model community members. “We are very lifestyle-focused,” says Caitlin, the creative force behind CM Events planning. “Because of that determination, we were incredibly passionate and stubborn about staying here.”
Ten years ago, the young couple had fallen in love with the neighbourhood’s easy access to shops, transit and the river. They rented a two-bedroom private suite until the condo board of the adult-only building learned Caitlin was pregnant with their son Mason in early 2014. They persuaded the board to let them stay until Mason was born, but with time dwindling and her belly swelling they had to get creative or get off their favourite street.
The young couple, married in 2009, printed a stack of flyers featuring their engagement photo and a blurb highlighting their commitment to a well-maintained home, as well as their passion for living and raising a family downtown. They posted the ads on the community boards of their favourite buildings in the hopes that someone might consider parting with their home. “We scavenged the area,” she says.
This method of reverse prospecting is also how they found the condo rental they were being forced to leave. But there were far more obstacles now: The need for more square footage redirected their search from apartments to townhouses, thereby narrowing their options down to a single six-unit, multi-storey complex on 111 St. and 98 Ave., just one block away. Unsure whether any of them were rental investments, the parents-to-be were willing to also become homeowners if it meant their family could grow free of a landlord’s changing whims.
They stuffed flyers into each mailbox and waited. After six months of persuading Bob and Diane Brayman to sell them their home, Caitlin and Scott signed the purchase documents within days of Mason’s October birth. The Braymans were already considering a post-retirement move to Kelowna and were pleased to have passed their home to people that’ll cherish it equally. “They were a lovely young couple that just loved the area,” says Bob. “It made us feel better that somebody would appreciate the area and home.”
The 2,200-sq.-ft. row-house is nearly twice the size of their previous home and a welcome improvement for the family. Best of all, nobody’s breathing down their necks about age-restricting bylaws. “We feel very privileged that Mason will grow up in a life where he gets to walk places and experience the city.”
For first-time homeowners Caitlin and Scott, securing the dream home in their ideal location was all about research, persistence and a little sweat-equity. “It’s great being downtown with your family,” says Caitlin. “It’s safe and awesome, but you have to be really stubborn and really creative to make it happen.” Here’s more of her wisdom:
Know Your Neighbours: “Get to know the people that might live in the buildings or the homes that you are interested in, especially if they’re older and have been there for a long time. They are also passionate about their property, and they want to know that it is going to someone that will take care of the home and keep its integrity.”
Don’t Give Up: “If you’d like to stay urban and central it’s absolutely possible, but it requires some extra fighting and passion. The three Grandin places that we have lived in weren’t listed on renters’ sites or MLS; they were all found by being a little bit creative and building relationships with people. That way you can find something that’s a good fit.”
Offset Your Costs: “People assume living downtown is expensive, so they immediately write it off. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons. You could pay more for a property, but less if you have one car or no car at all. You’re saving on things like gym passes because your lifestyle’s more active. We always argue that we may have paid more for our house, but our cost of living is lower than our friends’ in communities further away.”
MEDIAN SELLING PRICE NOV 2015 – JAN 2016
($-5,566 from Nov–Jan ’15)
• Difference from listing price: -$21,299
• Days on market: 60 (+9 from Nov–Jan ’15)
($+118 from Nov–Jan ’15)
• Difference from listing price: -$14,050
• Days on market: 69 (+11 from Nov–Jan ’15)
PROVIDED BY REALTORS® ASSOCIATION OF EDMONTON