'Special' condos for special investors

In an application to the city’s planning board, David Penner Architects has submitted drawing for that three-storey project at 956 Notre Dame Ave.

The project would have 18 units of about 440-sq.-ft., according to the plans, with the company also seeking variance to allow for a 7,000 sq.-ft. lot size and not the 20,000 minimum.

They're also asking for a reduction in the required number of parking spaces from 20 to five.

The proposal comes little more than two years after Manitoba received its first container, which are generally 40 feet long and made of corrugated steel.

Investors buying into the building are likely to benefit from significantly higher rents than rental units of a similar size, said one analyst Monday, pointing to the novelty of the proposed project.

Still winning financing for those apartment condos may be a challenge.

Financing availability for any unit under 480 sq. ft. can prove tricky, say seasoned investors,

“There are lenders that will finance properties that have extremely small square footage, but the lenders that will do it are usually backed by insurers, because the insurers typically don’t have restrictions on condo size so long as there’s nothing wrong with the building,” says Phil Edwards of MorcanDirect. “In that case, the lender will finance it as long as an insurer backs it. But for lenders that do have the restriction, if the insurer is behind it they may pass the insurance premium on to the client if it is a conventional deal.”

Some argue that some lenders may now be prompted to re-evaluate their stance, something Edwards says may happen once the apprehension surrounding the current condo market subsides.

“With that condo size being so small, if the person does default on the loan, there’s only a certain type of person that’s going to buy that property,” he says. “The chances of them going to be able to offload that investment are smaller.”

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