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The Whistler real estate market experienced another active year in 2017 resulting in significant price appreciation in most sectors and over one billion dollars of value being transacted throughout the year. Despite the number of reported sales falling below that achieved during 2016, strong buyer interest continued to drive valuations and reduce the number of opportunities available. We expect these general conditions to continue into 2018.
Overall, the total number of transactions reported to the Whistler Listing Service decreased 16.2% compared to 2016; however, this was more than offset by a 26% increase in the average price of a transaction (currently $1,163,392 compared to $901,451 at the end of 2016) and insured that reported sales exceeded $1.1 billion by year end.
The first half of 2017 was particularly strong due to a peak in buyer interest as a result of favorable exchange rates, low interest rates, strong regional economics, and a record number of visitors discovering and exploring Whistler in both summer and winter. As the number of properties offered for sale continued to decline throughout 2017, market activity slowed and the final quarter of the year was the slowest we have seen since 2014.
Larger, family orientated properties, both single-family homes and townhouses, experienced the highest level of interest, which resulted in double-digit rates of appreciation. Average single-family home values in Whistler rose by 26% to $2,835,000 (from $2,248,000 in 2016) and average townhouse values rose by 28% to $1,163,000 (from $947,000). As a result of the high level of interest, the number of family-style properties being offered for sale has dropped significantly. This has continued to support upward price movement.
The condominium market once again showed the highest level of activity with over 300 reported transactions (35% of the overall market share). Values in this market sector increased by 21% since the end of 2016. It should be noted that despite the average general market values stated here, the strong levels of activity in condominiums and townhouses (65% of the total market share) meant that almost 60% of all real estate transactions in Whistler were priced at under $1,000,000 in 2017.
The luxury market (properties valued at over $2 million) continued to grow as a result of increased valuations. A total of 122 properties changed hands in 2017 representing approximately 14% of the total transactions that occurred. This represents over 40% of total market value at an average price of $3,634,000 (an increase of 12% from 2015) in this important sub-category.
As a result of this long period of high buyer activity, we now have the lowest number of properties being offered for sale in modern memory, across all segments of the market. This will mean that activity levels will continue to drop despite strong buyer interest and prices will continue to feel upward pressure. It is perhaps unrealistic to expect continued double-digit rates of appreciation so we would expect that price increases will moderate in 2018.
Adding to these local market factors will be the unpredictable influence of a number of expected changes in external circumstances. These include interest rates, government and financing regulation, a slow down in neighbouring regional real estate markets, and perhaps an investor perception of being ‘over-bought’.
On the plus side, the new mountain ownership will introduce thousands of new potential investors to the area and North American economies will continue to be strong. Whistler continues to be one of the world’s most beautiful (and safe) places and our community continues to evolve and adapt to meet the requirements of both visitors and residents.
Going forward buyers will continue to buy and sellers will sell. There will be a real estate market. Supply will be restricted and this will not change quickly through 2018. More than anything, supply and demand will direct pricing in the Whistler market.
According to these new guidelines, the Property Transfer Tax (PPT) will now be charged on the "fair market value of a property" at a rate of:
First-time home buyers may be exempt from the PTT under the BC First Time Home Buyers' Program if they meet specific conditions, including that the purchase price is not greater than $475,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes between $475,000 and $500,000.
Qualifying buyers of new homes may be exempt from paying the PTT if the purchase price of their home is priced up to $750,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced between $750,000 and $800,000.