Will discount-priced condos for households earning up to $150,000 help improve local residents' access to home ownership in Victoria's pricey housing market?

That's the idea behind a unique condo offering in downtown Victoria with support from B.C. Housing.

Byron Chard, the chief financial officer for Victoria-based Chard Development, said 135 units in the Vivid at the Yates building will be priced eight per cent below market prices, but buyers must have incomes under $150,000 and commit to live in the condo for two years.

"We're giving priority to people with incomes below $125,000," Chard said. The condo prices start at $275,000.

Earlier this week, Vancouver city council voted to explore developing a policy to give current Metro Vancouver residents and workers the first opportunity for purchasing new presale homes.

B.C. Housing is a Crown corporation which develops, manages and administers subsidized housing across the province, with the stated objective of supporting those in greatest need of affordable housing.

845 Johnson Street site of Vivid at the Yates below-market condos

Chard's Vivid at the Yates development will occupy a former parking lot at 845 Johnson St. in Victoria. (Google Maps)

The developer's partnership with B.C. Housing means the Crown corp will provide 100 per cent of construction financing for the building at a lower interest rate than what's commercially available.

"We are passing that savings along to the end user to offer the units at eight per cent below market,"  Chard said.

"We recognize the need for housing diversity. Vivid at the Yates is targeted to those entry level purchasers to help them move up the housing continuum."

Previous developments attracted investors

Chard said in the company's previous condo developments in Victoria, about 40 per cent of buyers were investors — many of whom planned to put their suites up for rent.

Dean Fortin, the executive director of social housing provider Pacifica Housing, called Chard's discount-condo offer "fundamentally a good thing." 

Fortin, a former Victoria mayor, said it represents an opportunity for people to obtain their first home ownership and begin to accumulate an asset and the ability to borrow against equity. 

"It's an opportunity that's being closed to the average family." he said.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story included incorrect information from the company that 122 suites were being offered at below market rates; in fact, the correct number is 135.
    Oct 24, 2017 10:01 AM PT