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Whistler market flattens, B.C. real estate soars

Resort market was due to stabilize after a long run of price increases, says Wintemute

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Whistler’s real estate market, once a hotbed of activity, has stayed flat over the last B.C. Assessment period, while the rest of the province has seen an average 17 per cent increase in value.

Gone are the reports of 60 per cent increases in house assessments in certain Whistler neighbourhoods, or 30 per cent spikes in the condo market. Instead, B.C. Assessment has released its 2005 figures, which show the Whistler market on the whole has stabilized.

"We tried to take a broad spectrum of the types of housing in different price ranges, different areas, just to show that for the most part, most homes are worth pretty much the same as they were the previous year," said Jason Grant, assessor for the Vancouver Sea to Sky Region. "It’s the first year that that’s been the case for a long time."

Whistler is bucking the trends elsewhere in the area and across the province. The value of real estate went up 17 per cent across B.C. in the same assessment period – July 1, 2003 to July 1, 2004 – and the Squamish, North Shore and Sunshine Coast real estate markets have all seen strong increases.

"… (T)hose markets are up and they’re up substantially," said Grant.

The 2005 assessment is the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2004, based on transactions over the previous 12 months.

The figures released by B.C. Assessment show last year’s assessment of a single family home in Alpine Meadows was $1,056,000 whereas this year’s assessment is $1,023,000. Though it’s just a marginal drop in price, it’s a drastic change from the trends of the previous years.

Two years ago a single family home in Alpine Meadows on average had increased roughly 60 per cent. Only last year the Alpine home on average had increased 13 per cent. But Alpine Meadows chalets aren’t the only products feeling the brunt of the flat market.

A two-bedroom apartment in the village also decreased slightly this year, from $666,000 in the 2004 assessment to $660,000 in the 2005 assessment.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of the flat market is Whistler’s assessment roll, which is the assessed value of all real estate in the market including new subdivisions, rezonings and new construction.

Last year’s roll in Whistler was $9.88 billion. This year it’s $10.3 billion but the bulk of the increase, $380 million, was from new construction as opposed to market changes.

The figures came as no surprise to Mike Wintemute, general manager of RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate.

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