Having sold Real Estate in the resort town of Whistler BC for 15 years (and having lived in Whistler for 25), I have become familiar with the market, and what sets it apart from other real estate markets in British Columbia (and across the world for that matter). Aspects of Whistler’s resort-town-living, demographics, property regulations and seasonality make it a distinctly dynamic real estate market- requiring additional considerations and information for buyers and sellers. Here I will attempt to lay out the key aspects that make Whistler’s Real Estate Market unique.
Even though the population of Whistler hovers around the 10,000 mark- the year-round tourists exceed 2 million visitors per year. An influx that once concentrated between November and April, Whistler’s tourist season is now year-round with small downturns during the shoulder seasons.
So what does this mean for real estate? The typical ebb and flows that are consistent with most real estate markets do not apply in Whistler. In the majority of markets, December is a slow period for sales and listings with real estate usually not picking up until Spring. Whistler experiences some of its peak visitor numbers over the Christmas holidays, so with many of out of town buyers winter is one of the best times to have your home for sale. Understanding the unique selling/buying cycles in Whistler is important when purchasing or selling real estate in the resort community.
Photo: Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
Property Rights, Rules and Ownership
Property rights and ownerships are more complex in Whistler compared to a town which has mainly single title freehold ownership. Due to the number of strata buildings and co-operative ownerships it is important to understand land entitlements, costs and regulations associated with properties in Whistler. Shared title ownership is one of the most affordable ownership structures in Whistler (starting at $50,000CAD). Due to the high number of investment and recreational owners, many people opt to share title in a 1/10, 1/4, or 1/2 time-share arrangement. This makes owning real estate in Whistler more affordable, and allows out-of-towners a piece of the Whistler Real Estate Market for their enjoyment or to generate some investment income to help cover the carrying costs. These types of properties are perfect for those that wish to own a piece of Whistler without a lot of the costs.
Of course, there are traditional home types in Whistler ranging from condominiums to townhomes, vacant land to already built homes, we have something for everyone. And in a diversity of locations too. Slopside, right in Whistler Village, in our surrounding suburbs (which are only 5 minutes north and south of Whistler Village by the way) or in the smaller bedroom communities within 30 minutes of Whistler (Pemberton and Squamish). Freehold title is the most common type of title ownership and is a very safe and secure system. This type of ownership would be familiar to our Australians and UK visitors.
Diversity of Population
It is hard to define a Whistler local. Many people who call Whistler home have been living in the town for decades and have bared witness to many of the milestones that have helped make Whistler one of the best ski resorts in the world. A large group of Whistler locals are young singles or couples who visit Whistler as tourists and work in the tourism/hospitality industry, then end up staying for years. Other locals may own real estate for recreational purposes, and may spend weekends or weeks in Whistler at a time, however will have a fixed address outside of Whistler, generally in the Lower Mainland, other parts of Canada or Washington State.
As diverse as the seasons and activities- the people who call Whistler home are a rainbow of cultures, ages, and professions. According to the most recent census (2011) the median age of a Whistler local was 32.4, the average household income was $98,307, most adults had post-secondary education and the proportion of renters was above the provincial average.
Photo: Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
Working with a Realtor in Canada is Different
Contrary to what our Australian cousins have to do, in Canada you can choose one Realtor® to show you all properties for sale as we work on a co-operative Multiple Listing System. This means you the Buyer and Seller get to choose your Realtor® based on trust, experience and all the factors that are important to YOU, not because they seem to be the one that has the listings tied up in the area/ building you prefer. A much more sensible system and a lot less work.. your Realtor® does it for you!
What does this mean for buying and selling?
If you are selling your home in Whistler it is important to understand the visitor cycles, but even more important to hire a Realtor® with networks outside of Whistler as the out-of-town investment market is particularly strong in the resort community. Utilizing the latest marketing innovations will allow your property to reach far beyond the 604 area code and will reach buyers around the world when they are in the pre-purchasing stages of real estate investment.
Those looking to buy a home in Whistler need to be aware of the different ownership structures and to ensure their desired property conforms to the type of use it is intended for. For example, some buildings have rental and tenancy restrictions that are important considerations for buyers. Buyers should understand the unique resort lifestyle that Whistler offers, be realistic with what their budget allows and have all pre-qualifications in order to submit timely offers on prospective homes- especially when the market is moving quickly.
If you are looking at buying or selling a home in Whistler I can help you realize your real estate dreams. As your professional dot connector I have the networks, resources and know-how to help you achieve your real estate goals. Consistently awarded as one of the top Realtors in Whistler with testimonials and data supporting my achievements I will work diligently and wholeheartedly for you. For more information on Whistler’s unique real estate market please contact me today.