As many first time home buyers have found, it's no easy task to find an affordable starter home that's solid — and doesn't require a ton of costly updates.
The search for an affordable starter becomes especially challenging when finances dictate that a young couple or single parent must spend $250,000 or less on that first home. In turn, that tight budget often spawns a vexing debate: to buy a single family home, or an apartment-style condo?
At the centre of that debate is the issue of livability.
While apartment-style condos are more affordable and generally don't need many updates, everything is on one level. Even with two bedrooms, life can become tense. With nowhere to go to enjoy a little alone time, the walls of a 700 to 800 sq. ft. unit - no matter how nice it is - can close in very quickly.
Consequently, it's advisable to endeavour to purchase a single family home with a basement. However, the reality is there aren't many affordable, solid and well-updated out there for under $250,000.
Jennifer Queen of RE/MAX Professionals says she just listed a cute little bungalow in West Transcona that's in move-in-ready condition and priced at $229,900.
"This adorable bungalow has seen plenty of upgrades over the last several years," she says of the 750 sq. ft. abode, which was built in 1913. "With a finished basement — it basically doubles the size of the home — it provides you with a lot of square footage for your dollar."
Although the home is on the smaller size, it lives bigger than its listed square footage. Thanks to a well-proportioned floor plan (something of an anomaly for a home that's over one century old) it possesses a bright, spacious feel.
Queen says that airy, livable feel starts in the kitchen.
"It's a good-sized space that comes with two windows that let in ample amounts of natural light," she says. "It was updated about five year ago with laminate plank flooring, brown laminate countertops, beautiful French white cabinets and comes equipped with stainless steel appliances."
Walk through a doorway to the kitchen's rear, and you enter a light-filled great room area that contains two distinct spaces: a dining area and a spacious living room.
"The dining area can seat four, and is next to a patio door that leads out to a large side deck," says Queen. "The living room is a generous space that comes with laminate plank flooring and a big window on its end wall that lets in ample light. There's plenty of room for furniture and a TV, making it a great space to watch a movie or entertain."
Because both main floor bedrooms and the four-piece main bath were placed along the great room's right hand wall, there's no hallway to waste useful square footage, the bedrooms are a good size, too.
"Both bedrooms are spacious and well-appointed with the master suite coming in at 13 feet by 10 feet and the second bedroom at nine feet by eight feet," she says. "The main bath has been updated, and comes with extra storage space."
Next come's the tidy home's lower level, which is fully-finished and offers over 600 sq. ft. of total living space.
"It's carpeted, and comes with a large rec room that holds a media area and office/play area," Queen says. "There's also a third bedroom with window that doesn't meet egress - it could easily be widened out to do so - plus a flex space/office, storage and a mechanical room. Having all this usable space downstairs is a real plus."
She adds that a detached double garage, it was placed off to right-hand side of a generous backyard, is another plus.
"At 22 feet by 24 feet, it's a mechanic's dream and a real show stopper. Built in 2007, it's powered, insulated, and heated. It also comes with a workshop are and still has space for two cars."
Finally, there's the home's excellent location.
"It isn't too deep into Transcona, and is close to schools, parks, public transit and shopping on Regent Avenue," says Queen. "The home is bright, fresh, nicely updated and affordable. It's a great home to start out in."
Location: 210 Harvard Ave. W. (West Transcona)
Year Built: 1913
Size: 750 sq. ft. sq. ft. plus finished basement
Bedrooms: three plus lower level flex space
Contact: Jennifer Queen, RE/MAX Professionals, 204-797-7945