Carli Berry/Capital News

Rent isn’t cheaper in a Kelowna micro suite

The Cambridge House suites are around $1,200 to $1,300

While micro suites may be touted as a cheaper housing alternative in Kelowna, renters will find little difference in price at the Cambridge House.

Kevin Bird, with K West Homes, said there’s a range in age of renters at the complex, but the rentals aren’t more affordable than anywhere else.

Rentals in the building tend to be priced around $1,200 to $1,300 a month, Bird said. Kelowna’s one bedroom rentals site at about $1,280, according to PadMapper. He thinks there will be a need for micro suites in the community as the university continues to grow. Bird said the suites were not marketed as affordable, but “the fact is they’re the most affordable place in Kelowna for purchase.” While micro suites are gaining population in other parts of the world, Andrew Smith, a real estate agent with Royal LePage, said Kelowna may or may not be ready for these tiny apartments.

And prices aren’t necessarily coming down, Smith said. One unit in the Cambridge House has been sitting on the market on and off since 2017. It was listed as $199,900 for 226 days in 2017, but then was taken off the market. It went back on the market for $189,220 in June 2018, but was then reduced to $179,888 before being taken off the market again.

READ MORE: Small homes, small benefits: Speculators eye up Kelowna’s micro suite pool

It came back on the market in October, asking for $235,800.

“They’re not reducing it, they’re just not selling it. They’re waiting it out, and they’ll eventually get their price, they always do,” Smith said, adding micro suites are also used by people from Alberta, who are visiting for short periods of time, and as rentals for students.

Those who purchase homes and wait to sell is not uncommon as the real estate market has been increasing in price since the Second World War, he said.

Bird said would build more micro suites after this complex. The Cambridge suites originally sold on average of around $150,000, with the max price at $194,000. The marketing price for the units started at $94,900, he said.

RELATED: Proposed development in Lake Country calls for micro-dwellings, commercial space

“That wasn’t a real number, it was for (one unit), but it was just to get people excited in our marketing.”

The Cambridge House has 192 units. Bird estimated that about 75 per cent of the building is investors while the other 25 per cent is owners living in the building, including seniors.

The suites first sold out in the summer of 2016, he said.

“We’re seeing a shift in the residential economy right now and we’re starting to see more activity in the Cambridge suites. They’re selling every week… and they are selling well,” Bird said.

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