For people expecting the real estate prices in Whistler to drop after the Olympics, I’m afraid you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
According to George Klimock from The Whistler Real Estate Company, property prices in Whistler today are already 15-25% lower than previous prices in 2007. In fact, current prices in Whistler are down to 2001 levels.
With a high level of inquiries and good prices, Whistler is considered to good value in the resort market, with, for example, a 2 bedroom condo is now listed at $ 519,000 as opposed to the more expensive $ 630,000 a few years earlier.
According to the 2010 Whistler Report from Landcor Corp,the average price of a condominium has started to climb recently, back to the $400,000 mark, first established in 2002. Since 2008, the condominium market has flattened. But, new ownership types, including quarter share ownership, have been introduced into the market, increasing affordability. This likely has helped to keep assessed values stable at or close to the $400,000 level. Townhouses in Whistler, typically priced between condominiums and single detached units, ranged from $650,000 to $750,000 from 2001 to 2007, but dropped below $600,000 during the recession.
Those looking to step into the Whistler market for the first time under the notion of a lower price, may be disappointed. Whistler homeowners receive good cash flow from renting their properties out most of the year and as such are not as motivated to sell as homeowners in other areas. Whistler is considered to be near the bottom end of pricing when compared to other resorts such as Sun Valley and Aspen, with price adjustments as low as they were in 2001-2002.
“The mistake many people make when they look at prices of property in Whistler is to compare [prices] with the price of properties in their city. You can’t compare Whistler to Vancouver because Whistler is a destination resort, designed for people to own secondary and vacation properties, not their primary residences. In order to get an accurate picture of what prices are like for resorts, you have to look at other resorts like Sun Valley, Park City and Aspen. In fact, Whistler is currently less expensive than Sun Valley and Aspen and Park City is higher priced.Whistler is currently a good buy for resort property,” says Klimock.
Klimock predicts that the current sales volume in Whistler will continue throughout the year with a fairly active winter season. He believes the Olympics will be good exposure for the resort, but through the long term rather than the land rush that occurred in 2002 because speculative buying due to the Olympics has been virtually non-existent. The market will take 6 to 8 months to increase in sales, with more destination travelers arriving to the resort in March and April; after the Olympics, but prices may increase after next year.
Ultimately, Klimock believes that sales volume in Whistler will gradually increase, but Olympic success is a non-issue. “Buyers are still interested in Whistler, with or without the Olympics. As a world-class resort, Whistler has unparalleled world access and is in close proximity to a major city, Vancouver. No other resort in North America can claim that. Having the Olympics is great marketing for Whistler, but I don’t think it would have any major effect on prices or the amount of people buying.”
The message is, if you’re waiting for prices to drop before purchasing property in Whistler, you may be too late. The time to buy is now.