“Special Homes” in Fort McMurray: Should You Buy One?

By Tom Albrecht | Oct 14, 2017 | Fort McMurray- Buyers Advice

Okay, so this is another thing I’ve really just made up. But it’s useful!!

There isn’t a real thing called a “special home”; it’s a phrase I use to describe a home that is, well... special…and in a good way.

It’s not a euphemism for a weird house (I call those weird houses), or any other type of house for that matter (we tell it how it is here at The A-Team).

What is a Special Home?

They are AWESOME homes that usually have a few of the following features:
  1. Large lots: 7,000+sqft
  2. Larger homes: 2,300+sqft 2-story or 1,600+sqft bungalow/bi-levels.
  3. Unique, positive features
  4. Located on a park, pond or woods
  5. A great street: Burns Place, Wood Buffalo Way, Torrie Bay/Crescent, Westwood Drive, Woodward Lane/Bay, Becker Crescent, Berard Crescent, Brosseau Crescent, MacLaren Crescent, Burton Place, Lindstrom, Wild Rose, Trillium Road, Castle Ridge Lane. Or these lesser known ones: Sicamore Place, parts of Thicket Drive, Marten Place, Dickins Close, parts of Brett Drive.
  6. Well built: Try jumping up and down and seeing if the house makes a noise or moves. Silence is golden.
  7. I find a lot of special homes are 2-story homes with front attached garages.
  8. Additional garages/shops
  9. Generally built before 2000, though there are some newer gems hidden out there (for example on Wild Rose, Trillium, Eagle Ridge)
  10. Custom built or high-quality builder
...these are the homes that drive Facebook crazy.

Here are some images of special homes that we have sold in the last few months (we don’t have photos of the ones we’ve helped our clients buy):

fort mcmurray luxury homes

In summary, a “special home” is the home that everyone wants because it has a combination of features that make it stand out from the crowd. Executive homes are different, but there’s a lot of overlap.

Like executive homes, these are the homes in which you would quite like to spend the rest of your life.

That leads me on nicely to the next section…

Should YOU Buy a Special Home?

Let’s assume you’ve decided to buy a home.

At our buyer consultation we help by providing you with lots of information so you can make the best decisions for you and your family (whether to buy, when to buy, budget, types of homes) etc. There are a few important things to consider when deciding on the type of home. Here are some examples:

  • Budget
  • Needs/Wants
  • Your family (is it changing?)
  • Your lifestyle
  • How long you plan to live in the home for
  • Your risk tolerance
  • How much you are putting down as a down-payment
Let’s look at perhaps the most important three considerations:


One thing about special homes is that, because they have popular features, they do tend to be more expensive than entry-level homes. Today, we find them starting in the $600k’s and $700k’s (in the past they started at $800,000). Entry-level homes are found in the $400k’s and $500k’s.

It is quite possible that you simply don’t want to pay that much money, even if the bank pre-approves you for it. That’s okay. We always encourage our buyer clients to be faithful to their budgets. It may be an option for you to move up later (sell and buy when you feel more financially comfortable) - but do also be aware that this is a costly process.

Either way, we’ll be coaching you to purchase a home that meets your needs, but is also really resaleable.

Risk Tolerance

Buying a special home is an example of making a luxury purchase. You are buying something awesome because you love it. Do be aware that the value of luxury goods tends to vary slightly more than the value of basic goods, over time. This is especially the case when we are talking about really special homes with high price tags.

On the flip side, however, there is a lot to be said for buying something that everyone wants, especially if those features are enduring, like street, location, underlying build quality, lot size etc.

How Long You Will Stick Around

If you are here for 5 years and your family today doesn’t need the features of a special home, there is a lot to be said for avoiding a home like this and keeping things basic (save that money!)

However, if you are a “lifer” with housing benefits from your employer, these homes were literally built for you so you might want to think seriously about going for it. Your kids (and possibly your kid's kids, will love that backyard and thank you for it).

Consider a special home if you are planning to start or grow your family over that long time period. It may seem a way off now, but when you have teenagers of your own, it’s highly likely that you will enjoy them living in the basement.

What Now?

That’s it really.

Know that if we help you or your loved ones buy, we will look after them and coach them to get a great deal and a fantastic home. As buyer’s agents, if someone comes to us with a high budget we systematically target special homes so that they can have an awesome life AND an easy journey when it’s time to one day sell.

Please enjoy reading/sharing our blogs. We’ve written about pretty much everything related to Fort McMurray real estate at this point, so type something into the search box and see what comes up!

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Tom Albrecht founded The A-Team with his wife, Breanna. He holds a Masters in Economics for Developing Countries from The University of Oxford. Tom is licensed at RE/MAX First, and is a specialist buyer's agent in Alberta - specifically, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks & Chestermere. He was rated #1 Calgary agent in 2022 & 2023 by rate-my-agent.com