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Rent-to-own program helps homebuyers gather down payment while living in new townhome

An artist’s rendering of the courtyard exterior of the Skylar Townhomes in Kinniburgh, Chestermere. SUPPLIED / POSTMEDIA


Finding the money for a down payment is one of the biggest obstacles first-time home buyers face. For new parents Katti-Lynn Derouchie and her fiance, Matthew Nykolichuk, scraping together many thousands of dollars just wasn’t going to happen.

Nykolichuk is between jobs in the oil and gas sector and Derouchie, who works at the Peter Lougheed Hospital, has money tied up in small condo in northeast Calgary. When they decided to move to closer to family in Chestermere, they were resigned to being renters until they stumbled upon Skylar Townhomes in the new subdivision of Kinniburgh.

“I had looked at Skylar way back when but didn’t know there were townhomes there,” says Derouchie. “Terrence (the sales manager) emailed me about their rent-to-own program to help people save for their down payment by leasing for a year. It pretty much checked off all the boxes to help us be homeowners.”

Calvin Buss, president of Buss Marketing, worked with Vancouver-based Alture Properties in the creation of the rent-to-own program. Alture is building the 70-unit townhome project that includes 16 duplexes which were originally constructed by failed Alberta builder, Reid Built Homes.

“A lot of people can handle the monthly payments but don’t have the down payment. With interest rates in the two and three per cent area, mortgage payments are close to rental costs,” he says.

If a buyer chooses the rent-to-own option, they’re treated just like a regular new home buyer. They can choose their unit, their interiors and even upgrade their appliances. A $5,000 deposit holds the unit as it’s being built, then another $980 deposit is required prior to move-in and then the buyer makes monthly payments for the next 12 months which are credited back towards the down payment.

Derouchie says when they take possession next summer, their payments on a three-bedroom townhome will be $1,850 a month.

“Small, two-bedrooms here in Chestermere are renting for $1,800 a month, so to have three bedrooms for $1,850 is awesome,” she says.

Skylar has three townhome floor plans from 1,488 square feet to 1,760 square feet starting at $334,800. Derouchie and Nykolichuk chose the three-bedroom “A” model, a corner unit, because they want room for another child in the future.

The home has a ground level double-car garage with a flex room that Derouchie says will be a “man cave.”

“He gets that and I get everything else,” she says, laughing.

The second level has an open concept living area with a half bathroom and a deck off the dining area. Upstairs are three bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a compact laundry area.

Located on the south side of Chestermere, with a new school and easy access to the lake, Skylar is in a developing family neighbourhood. Derouchie grew up in Chestermere and says that even though it has grown a lot in the past few years, it still has a small-town feel.

“It’s not noisy. It’s clean and well maintained. The City of Chestermere does a really good job of keeping it tidy,” she says.

Buss says the rent-to-own program was launched just a few months ago and about 10 individuals have taken advantage of it.

“You can rent for a year and if you decide after that you want to buy it, we’ll credit all the rent towards your down payment. If you don’t want to buy, your rent’s gone. But people say, ‘Are you serious — it’s like living there for free for a whole year.’ And we say, ‘Yeah!’ It helps them and it helps us,” he says.

Derouchie is grateful for the opportunity.

“I think it’s awesome that builders are working with families to attain a home, because nowadays, to save up that down payment, well, there’s always one thing after another. It would be great, I think, if a lot more builders this sort of thing did,” she says.


COMMUNITY: Kinniburgh, in Chestermere
DEVELOPER: Pollyco Developments.
BUILDER: Alture Properties.
PROJECT: Skylar Townhomes.
HOMES: Two and three-bedroom townhomes with single and double garages.
SIZES: 1,488 square feet to 1,760 square feet.
PRICES: Starting from $334,800.
INFORMATION: The sales centre is at 248 Kinniburgh Blvd. in Chestermere or skylarliving.ca