British Columbia

An Alberta bungalow with views of the Rockies or a 'piece of poo' in Vancouver? Life on a $3M budget

A custom-built Alberta home with stunning Rocky Mountains views comes with a Vancouver-sized price tag.

Alberta realtor compares part of Vancouver's housing stock to human waste

A $3 million budget can get you this custom-designed one-storey home 90 kilometres southwest of Calgary. The Vancouver bungalow on the right is priced at $2.3 million. (CBC)

If you think spending millions of dollars on a house less than a thousand square feet in size is just a Vancouver thing, think again.

A 704-square-foot bungalow tucked away, 90 kilometres southwest of Calgary is listed for $2.9 million — or six times more expensive than the average Calgary home.

The price tag might seem high for just one bedroom and 1.5 bathrooms — but there are perks. The unit has pristine Rocky Mountain views that a local realtor says will never be obstructed, and the space is designed by renowned architect James Cutler, who designed Bill Gates' home.

The small bungalow promises unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains and comes with 500 acres that's shared with residents of neighbouring units. (CBC)

Known as 'The Rock House,' it's part of a 40-unit development spanning nearly 300 hectares. Realtor Emma May says the luxury home is a step up from what you can get in Vancouver for roughly the same price.

"[The price] is not crazy when you think of the piece of poo you could buy in downtown Vancouver [for the same amount]," May told CBC News.

The wall-to-wall custom-made glass allows natural light to illuminate the living room at 25 Carraig RG, Rural Bighorn M.D., Alta. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

The assessment might be harsh, perhaps slightly uncalled for. But Vancouver-based realtor Steve Saretsky says 'the bold' comment isn't too far off the mark.

What does $3 million get you in Vancouver?

"If you're going to spend $3 million for a prime piece of real estate in Vancouver, it's going to get you a very worn out house," said Saretsky.

The Multiple Listing Service Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is $1,019,400 — an 8.7-per-cent increase compared to July 2016.

The price soars when you get closer to the city centre. But Saretsky says a $3-million budget is good for a small detached home in Vancouver's west side.

He says the bulk of properties within range are in need of renovations, or even a re-build. But they can be a wise place to park your money.

This Vancouver bungalow is listed at $2.3 million and has over 2,000 square feet. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)
Features of this sold home also include chipped paint and a grimy gutter. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

"There's a lot more push for density, a lot of those homes will eventually get redeveloped," said Saretsky. "That's a good long-term hold if you're looking to play Vancouver's real estate market."

Small homes along the Cambie Street corridor, for example, are being listed at exceptionally high prices as swathes of properties are being bought up and redeveloped along the popular route.

Saretsky expects that rush to densify to spread toward Vancouver's west side amid the city's plan to build 72,000 new units over the next 10 years.

"If you're going to roll $3 million, it's a long-term play. At least 10 years."