RiverLife Real Estate


Spotlight on historic Calgary homes

“Historic Calgary homes” may sound like an oxymoron to anyone that has lived in Europe or other cities in the world with much longer histories and much older buildings than we have!

When I refer to historic homes here, I typically mean anything around 100 years old. There are many houses in Calgary’s inner city neighbourhoods built during the boom times of 1910-1912. Of course, some of these are being demolished by owners and developers in order to build larger, more modern and sometimes more dense properties.

However, many of them do survive and they are always interesting to look at with my buyer clients!

Few can resist the charm of exposed brick walls or chimneys, cozy front porches and gorgeous fir baseboards that many heritage homes feature. But owning a home of that age is kind of like getting into a relationship… you need to commit to your home for better or worse!

There are so many items that can be expensive upgrades hidden behind those old plaster walls. Beyond the cosmetic updates that you may desire, a significant investment in plumbing, electrical, heating, foundation, roofing or insulation may also be required. These are not “sexy” renovations. They are often pricey and don’t really improve your daily enjoyment of the house.

If your firm budget is $600,000 and you want to get into a character home, I would strongly recommend purchasing something in the $500,000-$550,000 range and saving some cash to invest in your home. If you have a significant amount as a down payment, I would also consider reducing the amount you put down initially and putting that money into renovations instead.

The same way that we need to take care of our bodies as we age, we do need to put money and work every year into our homes. So don’t stretch your monthly budget too thin and be surprised with a big repair bill you can’t afford.

If you budget properly and can make due with smaller closets and bathrooms (always a challenge in older homes!), it can be a wonderful purchase to make.

There are surprisingly over 20 communities in Calgary that have homes built before 1920, including Bankview, Beltline, Bowness, Bridgeland, Capitol Hill, Cliff Bungalow, Crescent Heights, Elbow Park, Elboya, Highland Park, Hillhurst, Inglewood, Killarney, Mission, Mount Pleasant, Mount Royal, Parkhill, Ramsay, Renfrew, Richmond, South Calgary, Sunalta, Sunnyside, Tuxedo.

Currently there are 68 houses listed in Calgary built before 1920, ranging from $209,900 (land value only in Bankview) to $3.4M (full renovation in Mount Royal) but many of the houses are in the $500,000-$700,000 range with varying levels of upgrades completed.

There is one bungalow listed right now that is only 560 square feet – smaller than most condos!

There have even been 17 sales in Calgary’s MLS history of houses built prior to 1900! More than half of these are located in Inglewood.

If you want to chat about old houses or new houses, please feel free to contact me anytime.

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