It was great to see your recent “Urban Living” issue featuring alternatives to Vancouver’s conventional, and prohibitively costly, real-estate offerings [“The not-so-little laneway house”, October 17-24].
Another alternative—often misunderstood—is co-op properties. Co-op apartments make up a tiny but significant portion of Vancouver’s residential market. The ownership structure, common in New York City, predates strata law. Residents are technically “shareholders”. They own the entire building together and are represented by an elected board with more power and flexibility than a strata council.
The buildings were erected soon after the Second World War. They’re architectural gems, concentrated in the West End, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano, and Fairview. By the standards of current construction, the suites are huge. Also, they don’t leak.
Financing co-ops is a bit more complicated than strata financing, but in a good way. Banks require higher down payments, and that keeps co-op prices low. For buyers able to come up with the typical 35 percent down—my partner and I did it with the ingenuity of a mortgage broker and the assistance of some property-owning family members—co-ops are a bargain, as well as a piece of Vancouver history.
> Paul Headrick / Vancouver