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Linda Palfi
DISCOVER REAL ESTATE LTD.
217, 222 - 16 AVENUE N.E., Calgary, Alberta
P: 403-998-7732
F: 403-592-8002
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Condo options for seniors

 

Seniors have an array of adult-oriented housing options once the single-family home is too big or too much to take care of any more. Urban centres offer adult-oriented condominiums, adult age-restricted condos, aging-in-place staged condo housing and even life-lease options that are almost condominiums, but not quite. As well, while condos for seniors are commonly apartment-style, they can also be townhouses or bungalow-style one-level attached homes usually called "villas".

 

The housing industry is catering to the demographic bulge and relative wealth of seniors by building a range of brand-new age-specific housing, sometimes of luxurious quality. Yet some adult-oriented condo buildings have been around for decades providing modest and affordable housing that is no more than many older people need or desire. Another option altogether, of course, is seniors-oriented rental housing, for those who no longer want money tied up in a home, or who may expect to relocate soon, whether to a care facility or to live with their adult children.

 

When weighing the options, keep in mind the distinction between adult-oriented developments and those that are actually age-restricted, as there's a big difference. Many condo communities are marketed to mature and wealthier people, and most buyers will fit that demographic. Yet they are open to anyone---even with kids---who can afford to and who may choose to buy and live there. If you truly want only same-age neighbours, you need to go beyond target-marketed projects and buy in a fully age-restricted condo development.

 

Age restrictions can be set at over-18, over-40, 50 or even 60 years of age. Keep in mind that the actual average age of residents will be 10 or 15 years older than the minimum. There may also be a very few residents younger than the minimum age, as usually only one person of a couple needs to be of the minimum age in order for the couple to qualify for residency.

 

The value of age restriction in condominium is more than just keeping out the noisy young pups. A social group is created, and often amenities are available that together create a village atmosphere. Whether luxurious or modest, these condo communities usually offer a thriving in-house social life of movie nights, cribbage tournaments, billiard games, birthday parties and joint outings. Some are attached to a church that sponsored the development in the first place. Others lie alongside a golf course that acts as the back yard to all of the owners. A few have in-house meals service as an option, so residents can move from independent living to partly-assisted living.

 

A fairly new alternative is a "life lease" purchase, which means you buy a contract right of occupancy for life, rather than owning the home outright. This looks and feels like condominium living, but it's not, quite. The advantages include no legal costs to buy or sell, and the quick guaranteed "sale" of the home back to the sponsoring church or non-profit society when it's time to move on. You buy the lease for an apartment or townhouse home at the current appraised value, and eventually sell back to the society at the appraised value at that time, which takes into account improvements you might have made.

 

Is age restriction in condo housing legal? Canadian courts have confirmed that it's reasonable discrimination to allow people to choose the nature of their social community, and customize it to that extent. As long as the restriction was disclosed at the outset, is detailed in the bylaws, and is registered as a restriction on every condominium property title before their sale to the initial buyers, the restriction is enforceable.

 

An entirely different question would be converting an adult-oriented condo community to an age-restricted one. In law that would be difficult, and politically it is divisive and---in my opinion---ill advised. If we want an age-restricted condo community, there are a boggling number of options in most urban centres and certainly in Calgary, so there's no need to create your own. There are so many options, in fact, that you might want a Realtor who knows the seniors' market to serve you toward finding just the right one. I'm just a phone call away!

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