If the flurry of lot sales at Baxter Creek on its opening weekend is any indication, consumer confidence is returning to the resort's real estate market.
This past weekend 70 per cent of the sun-drenched lots looking over a postcard view of Whistler were snapped up by buyers, a good percentage of whom were locals and the rest from the Vancouver marketplace.
"Obviously what we have is what the market wanted because 16 out of 23 (sales) on opening weekend is outstanding," said John Ryan, a realtor with The Whistler Real Estate Company. "It definitely exceeded my expectations."
He offered several reasons for the weekend's sales, not the least of which are the unique characteristics of Baxter Creek, located directly above the new Rainbow subdivision, north of Alpine Meadows.
"It's just spectacular land," he said. "Obviously the views are probably as good as it gets in Whistler."
On top of that, he said the lots were priced well, ranging from $699,000 to $1,025,000. He expects the buyers will build homes in the range of $800,000 to $1 million.
"I think the marketplace saw value in our pricing," said Ryan. "I think there's some pent-up demand. I think a lot of people are excited about the idea of building. I think building costs are down right now from where they peaked so I think the math is making more sense to people than it has in a long time."
The Whistler Real Estate Company owner Pat Kelly said the Baxter Creek sales reflect what's happening elsewhere in the marketplace.
"Globally there's been an increased interest in purchasing good quality lots," he said.
Including the 16 Baxter Creek lots, there have been 24 lot purchases this year. Two of those have been at Cheakamus Crossing.
"We've seen a return to people wanting to build their dream property," added Kelly.
"So much of the purchase of discretionary items is a function of consumer confidence and, you can probably appreciate, a year ago consumer confidence wasn't very good. It is improving, albeit slowly."
Baxter Creek's developer Michael Hutchison, of Bethel Land Co, explained the whole site will include 48 lots and 41 townhomes. The second phase of the lots will go on sale likely in 2014.
The townhomes will be launched in fall 2010 with construction to begin in April 2011.
Most of the purchasers of this weekend's lots were local residents or people who lived in Vancouver.
"We weren't trying to create another Blueberry," said Hutchison. "We thought it was a local product.
"It's a mix of Vancouver and Whistler people. There's not a single international purchaser."
Bethel Land Co. partnered with the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations in the Baxter Creek development.