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February 01, 2019

Hope at Large - Two of a kind

Popularity of duplex homes on the rise

Marty Hope

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I guess it’s no big secret that duplexes have become a popular item in Calgary’s housing market.

Doesn’t matter what quadrant of the city you happen to be visiting the side-by-side homes are taking up more and more room.

So, the question is why? Is it affordability or is it lifestyle?

The answer, it appears, is a blend of both, according to Laura Field, marketing co-ordinator at Qualico Communities.

“They are becoming more popular because people can get a lot of square footage and, in some cases, an attached one- or two-car garage for a significantly more affordable price than a traditional single-family home of the same size,” she says.

Qualico is making room in its communities for the duplex market. The most recent I saw was in its northeast development of Redstone.

Staying in the northeast, Truman Homes is also showing off its duplex product in Cornerstone where 40 are planned, says company vice-president Oliver Trutina.

Price point, he says, is a key factor in the popularity of the duplex, but just to add some spice, Truman is offering customization — like you might otherwise see in larger detached Truman homes.

“In Cornerstone, one will find three bedrooms up, and a spacious main floor with three layout options — the most unique being a spice kitchen rough-in,” he says.

The Truman duplexes also offer the opportunity to create a revenue suite with a side-entry door — and that, Trutina adds, is another reason for the growth in duplex popularity.

Down in the southeast community of Legacy, Trico Homes has also seen an uptick in interest in side-by-side duplexes.

“I think it’s because they offer individuals a stronger sense of ownership at a much more affordable price. Then, there is the square footage that, in a lot of cases, is starting to rival smaller single-family laned homes so people feel they are getting a lot of value for their dollar,” says Jayce Roger, Trico’s area sales manager in Legacy.

As for the demographic that is being attracted, all three builders say interest covers pretty much all spectrums of the Calgary marketplace.

“There really is not typical buyer profile for duplexes because of the versatility and and affordability,” says Field. “We even see some extended families buying each side of a duplex in order to be close, but still retain some privacy.”

Getting back to affordability, Field says duplexes are among the most affordable housing options on the market today,  especially for first-time buyers.

“Unlike condominiums — the other starting point for homeowners — there are no condo fees associated with buying a duplex. You simply pay your mortgage, if you have one, and taxes as if it were a typical home,” she says.

Then there is the lifestyle aspect that comes with being an empty-nester. The kids are grown and gone and it’s time to start another chapter in your life.

“For many people in this position, downsizing is a common action as  they no longer need the space of a large home and may be looking to save some money as they head toward retirement, so a duplex may be the ideal solution,” Field says.

But there are a whole mess of other segments of  the population that might find a duplex the right fit for them.

“Whether you are living by yourself, a single parent, a caregiver, or even a  close family looking to near to each other but have their own space, duplexes are the sensible and logical option,” says Field.

There is also the fact that you only have one immediate neighbour on the other side of the common wall, unless, of course, you are in an end unit.

“The reality is that duplexes are nothing like they used to be. Construction has come a long way and it has made a very impactful difference in duplexes,” says Field.

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