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Pleasant surprise: starter home within reach for couple

Calgary Herald
Cindy Stephen

The first-time home purchase for high school sweethearts Simon Chiem and Dianne Dizon was easier than they imagined.

After becoming engaged last year, the young couple discovered that despite student loan debt, together they could qualify for a mortgage. Further, by building a home rather than buying resale, they could get the ball rolling with $5,000 down, scraping together the rest of the down payment in $2,000 a month instalments. It would be paid off by the time the house was finished.

“That worked out perfectly for us. It’s hard because five per cent down, which for us was roughly $20,000, is hard to come up with all at once,” says Chiem, an automotive technician. It was helpful that he and Dizon, a human resources co-ordinator, were each living with their parents while contributing to the down payment.

They took possession of their new home, the Cadence laned model by Morrison Homes, in Anthem United’s Cornerstone community in February. Chiem grew up in Monterey Park, Dizon in Castle Ridge, so the northeast location is familiar to them both.

The 1,418-square-foot, three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom Cadence held a lot of appeal with its modern elevation and angled roof, but the open plan 689-square-foot main floor is what the couple liked most.

“There are fewer walls. We have two Pomeranians that need space to run around,” Chiem says.

The couple still had budget for a few upgrades — quartz countertops, coloured cabinets with rose gold handles, vinyl plank flooring and pet-friendly stain and odour resistant carpet underlay upstairs. Dizon dug around Pinterest for decorating ideas, Chiem says.

“She came into this knowing what she wanted. But we also picked interiors that would be durable and age well. If we have kids, we wanted the house to survive a bit of abuse,” he notes.

It was their budget, not preference, that dictated which lot they would build upon. They were hoping for a corner lot with a front-drive garage but didn’t qualify for that type of higher-priced home. The standard Cadence model on a standard lot starts in the $370,000s.

“It was a fine line between a really nice townhome and a basic laned home. But Morrison helped us quite a bit and we ended up getting a double detached garage, which should be built in May or June,” Chiem says.

Morrison, Shane Homes, Jayman Built and Pacesetter by Sterling Homes are building laned homes on zero lots in Cornerstone. With one side of the home hugging the property line, there’s a larger side yard on one side of the home. A zero lot line is the most efficient use of a narrow lot, and for buyers like Chiem and Dizon, it’s an affordable option.

With the market so unpredictable at the moment, Morrison is offering a price protection program to protect new home buyers.

“It gives buyers the peace of mind that if the base price of their model is reduced before their possession date, Morrison will credit them back,” says marketing and communications lead Kayla Gavan.

Meanwhile, Chiem and Dizon have met their neighbours and are looking forward to watching the community fill out. Morrison will soon landscape their yard and Dizon has begun growing things for the garden of their first home.

“We seem to have a collection of plants in the house already,” Chiem says.


COMMUNITY: Cornerstone.
DEVELOPER: Anthem United.
BUILDER: Morrison Homes.
MODEL: The Cadence laned home.
SIZE: 1,418 square feet, three-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom with optional deck.
PRICE: From the $370,000s.
INFORMATION: The Cadence show home at 34 Cornerstone Road N.E. is open by appointment only. Details at

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