A look at what’s out there for those who dream of owning a home in this real estate market
– Originally posted at: www.thenownewspaper.com
SURREY — With housing prices on the rise, and no sign of the numbers slowing down, it has become increasingly difficult for Millennials to break into the real estate market. Average prices for detached properties in the Fraser Valley have swelled to $644,574 while average rents for a one-bedroom apartment near Surrey’s City Centre hover around $850 per month. For a single renter with a car, the monthly cost of living floats just over $2,000, leaving little room to save for a down payment.
As Surrey’s urban sprawl grows, young people dream of moving out of their parents’ home, and into a place of their own. Unfortunately for many, the hope remained just that – until now. The Now investigated a few alternatives for prospective homeowners in Surrey that might make the transition from basement dweller to full-grown mortgage payer a little easier.
When one thinks of manufactured home communities in Canada, what might come to mind are the hilarious, R-rated hijinks that the Nova Scotiabased Trailer Parks Boys get themselves into in their neighbourhood. But gone are the days of decrepit, old, 1970s-style mobile homes and unkempt communal spaces – at least for Parkbridge’s communities, including its new acquisition of the Crestway Bays, located at 8220 King George Blvd. in Surrey. It’s comprised of a progression of cul-de-sacs and communal amenities.
Through a community enhancement program, Parkbridge has been able to update existing homes and build new ones, rejuvenating the look and feel of the parks. Crestway Bays is just one example of how these communities are removing the “trailer park” stigma.
“A lot of people have this perception of a trailer park, and it’s true,” said Lachlan MacLean, Parkbridge’s director of operations in B.C. “It seems here in B.C. in particular, the vast majority of these mobile home parks or trailer parks or manufactured home parks – whatever you want to call them – were built in the early 1970s. There seemed to have been building boom of them in that time. A lot of the homes in these communities date from 1973, 1974, just like in regular construction. Probably moreso because it was a less tried and proven thing at the time, but what you got in 1974 doesn’t resemble in any way what you buy today.”
Instead, today you can buy a twobedroom, two-bathroom brand new home for just $79,900. Homeowner and Crestway Bays resident Don Johnson says he’s thrilled with his new home, and the community to boot. Almost on the verge of leaving Crestway Bays, where he’s been a resident for the past eight years, the allure of a new home in the park beat out the idea of living in a condominium again.
“The difference between that and an apartment is that you get to cut your grass, you step on grass, you sit on your deck, you wash your car in your own driveway, and you plant your flowers,” Johnson said. “In that sense, (it’s) hard to give up and move into an apartment where you can’t turn your music up (or) watch a movie.”
That’s just one of the ways that the idea of land-leasing is attractive to homebuyers in an area like the Lower Mainland, where the cost of real estate is becoming an unrealistic expense.
The concept of living at a park like Crestway Bays, said MacLean, is a bit of a hybrid concept between owning your own home and living in a strata complex. “It’s an alternative to rental apartments, or condos or townhouses, and this gives (people) a chance to own their own home without, particularly in the Lower Mainland, the prohibitive hurdle of the land costs,” he said.
The real sense of community is another motivator.
“There’s a lot of the people in the community (who) know who each other are. Because it is a community and they have a common focal point of a community centre as opposed to – if I drew a line around 119 homes around my house, I’d be lucky if I could name five neighbours that I know. They do get to know each other and it is very much a community,” said MacLean.
On top of having a community centre in the complex, there is an outdoor swimming pool and active social committees made up just of residents. They have their own events within the community facilities, from kids’ Halloween parties to chili cook-offs to summer barbeques, sock-hops, Christmas parties and more.
Unlike living in a 20-storey building, though, Johnson attests that he gets plenty of privacy.
“I know when I lived in my last condo, you know, you get these nice new sound systems with surround sound and all of the sudden somebody is banging on the wall – you know where the explosion in the movie just rocked their world,” he said with a laugh.
At Crestway Bays, Johnson has the luxury of turning up his volume, as well as taking his dog for a walk and chatting with neighbours when he wants to.
“We have a little dog, a lot of people walk their dogs, you know, you run into the same people at the same time every day. It’s a good feeling.”
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