Home ownership.
It is possible.

Agency Gives Condo-Hunters Options

January 24, 2003

Irene Papakonstantinou
The Toronto SUN

Jason Caverly loves vacations – but the 25-year-old Pickering resident thought his traveling days would be over when he began condo hunting.

That was until he was introduced to Options for Homes, a private, not-for-profit company dedicated to making home ownership within reach of everyone without having to make significant sacrifices.

Options works directly with condominium purchasers to provide high quality condominiums or town homes at very attractive prices by eliminating what they believe to be unnecessary extras.

The company also provides a second, interest-free mortgage on title that equals the difference between the cost price and the market value of its homes.

"Options for Homes certainly makes it a lot easier to buy a home," Caverly said. "And the second mortgage added to the appeal of the home.

"The money I save could go to upgrades within the home, bills and if there's enough left over I'm considering a bus tour to California," he said with a smile.

He recently purchased one of the 208 units at McLevin being built by Delterra - a division of Tridel- in central Pickering.

Located at 1200 The Esplanade North, the complex is just north of City Hall and the main branch of Pickering's public library. It's a two-minute walk from the Pickering Town Centre and the city's recreation complex.

"This project is unique compared to our others," Options president Michel Labbé said. "One of the ways Options normally cuts costs is to avoid costly amenities like parking spaces, pools, gym facilities. But since we've taken over the fourth phase of an existing complex at the Pickering site, buyers will be able to benefit from the shared amenities between buildings."

The amenities at McLevin include an exercise room, outdoor pool and sauna.

And the deals are practically unheard of-prices range from $81,566 for a bachelor suite to $154,300 for a two bedroom plus den suite.

"One of the biggest ways we save on cost is by creating a skeletal marketing campaign," Labbé said, "just enough to let people know we're out there. We don't have model suites, we don't have staffed sales offices we don't have big, flashy newspaper ads.

"What we might do is a small mail campaign and we hold information sessions once every couple of weeks for interested buyers. For the Pickering site, we are selling out of the local library."

In all, he figures, Options buyers save an average of $40,000 per condo. Moor of their homes carry for less than average rent levels in Toronto.

"After hearing about the condos from my sister and I was more than impressed," said Lesley Bradshaw, 28, of Scarborough.

Bradshaw bought and signed up as a committee member for the development

"Options for Homes certainly makes it a lot easier to buy a home. And the second mortgage added to the appeal of the home"

That is how Options for Homes works - the initial purchasers of the condominiums and town homes, of which the company co-ordinates the development, form a Co-operative Housing Corporation. That group acts as the developer of the buildings and retains Options as their development consultant.

Options then receives a fee for its services which is included in the purchase price of the homes.

"Effectively, Options is hired by us purchasers," Bradshaw said. "It's an incredible system that offers buyers an opportunity of a lifetime."

Bradshaw, who works as an office administrator/accountant, scooped up a two-bedroom 750-.sq.-ft. unit and plans to use the money she saves on the purchase of hard-wood floor upgrades", furniture and any unexpected closing costs.

'The plan here is to be able to give everyone affordable housing without using one cent from government grants," Labbé said. "And it's working."


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