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Linda Palfi
CNC Properties
47033 Creekside, Calgary, Alberta
P: 403-998-7732
F: 403-592-8002

What is "luxury" in condo apartment homes?


As a housing category, condominium apartments are usually seen as a lower-priced alternative to single-family homes, and for those who work downtown they make it possible for working folks to be homeowners and yet live within a short commute or even within walking distance of their employment.


But there are also people who can afford any housing style they might choose, located anywhere they want it to be. Some of them decide against a sprawling mountain-view house and property in Springbank, for example, and choose instead to live in or near downtown in a condo apartment suite that might also have a mountain view, with walking access to their business and with high-end finishing and amenities that we’d all agree are luxurious. Some of the wealthy own a luxury inner-city condo apartment home AND a Springbank acreage home!


In Calgary during 2010 eleven condo apartment homes sold for over $1 million, with the priciest sale at $2.1 million. At the time of my writing this column there are 20 condo apartment homes asking over $1 million on the Multiple Listing Service in Calgary, with the top asking price at more than $4 million. If we added condo townhouses to the mix there would be many more listings and sales at those prices. But who said you have to spend $1 million or more to enjoy “luxury” in a condo apartment home? And just how do we define “luxury” in the first place? In fact, luxurious suites can be had in Calgary for well under a million dollars.  The fun question then is what qualifies as “luxury”? Let’s run through some criteria.


Location: Any luxury condo apartment home will offer proximity to employment, business, culture and amenities, which in Calgary pretty well means being in or very near downtown, perhaps along the Bow River, but certainly within walking distance of the major office towers. Some will be along the Elbow River and in most cases the best suites will have a view of these natural and man-made amenities. Mountain views have extra cachet. But there are many suburban luxury suites which for location reasons are below the $1 million mark.


Space: While a luxury-quality home can be a one-bedroom apartment home, it has to have space enough to not feel confining, offer lots of in and out-of-suite storage, and probably has indoor parking for more than one vehicle. It will also have a generous outdoor space, be that a garden patio, at least one large balcony, and/or a roof-top deck.


Finishing: Luxury usually means high-quality interior finishing materials and appliances…but not always. Large suites that have a terrific location, views that you’d call vistas and in-house amenities such as an indoor swimming pool or a roof-top private hot tub are certainly in the luxury class, but some aren’t all that glitzy inside. Let’s say that luxury suites usually have top-quality interior finishing, but that all suites that have top-quality interior finishing are not luxurious. Under “finishing” we can also list bells and whistles that most luxury apartment homes will offer, such as central air conditioning, a roomy foyer, a fireplace, a natural-gas outlet on the outdoor space, a laundry room rather than just a laundry closet, at least two full bathrooms probably in a double en-suite arrangement, and a kitchen that would make a brought-in chef nod approvingly.


 Views: This one comes up a second time because people will make purchase decisions solely for lovely views. Distant views are liberating, allowing for hours of calm gazing at the world, and ensure that a home has plenty of light. Views in numerous directions multiply those values. Even the most luxurious suite in all other regards would likely drop out of that class if it faced the blank wall of broad office building.


Amenities: While amenities alone won’t make a condo apartment home luxurious, it’s certainly a luxury to have an in-house indoor swimming pool, a lounge with a library, and perhaps a kitchen for catering events in the party room. One luxury residential tower in Calgary is attached to the Ranchmen’s Club, so private dining and special events are just an elevator ride away; definitely a cut above pizza delivery. That and other condominium developments are simply large enough and well-off enough to offer their own pool and/or lounge, gym, tennis court, racquetball court, and 24-hour concierge/security services.


Parking: This is car-oriented Calgary in our vast “car-is-a-necessity” country, so even if a luxury condominium apartment home is downtown it will have at least one indoor parking stall, probably several, and the building will have ample indoor visitor parking. While we’re in the basement, luxury buildings have a car-wash bay and large dry and clean storage lockers near the parking stalls.


Security: You don’t need 24-hour concierge service and guards to be secure in a condo apartment building. Security can be obtained with a list of common upgrades to the locked front door; these include electronic “fob” key entry, stairwells, and elevator security, preferably recording which fob key accessed which door at what time. Beyond that it helps to have video cameras with TV displays at various doors showing visitors that they’re monitored and being recorded. True luxury is to have 24-hour security staff, but nearly as good is more affordable overnight security visits from a private patrol firm.


Something special: Sure this could come under “amenities” but, for example, a penthouse’s two-storey vaulted living room ceiling with a 20-foot high wall of windows and a mountain view needs its own category. Also under this heading I’d put features like a private roof-top deck(s), perhaps with a hot tub, with extra points for skinny-dipping privacy, and private elevator service to the suite, perhaps being one that occupies an entire floor of the building. Something special means a feature that’s impressive and puts the apartment home clearly into the luxury class.


Define it as you will, “luxury” condo apartment homes in Calgary don’t necessarily cost $1 million, and while most are in or adjacent to downtown, some overlook Fish Creek Park. Then there’s a crème-de-la-crème few that are well over that price point for those who want no question that their condominium suite is luxurious.

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