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Home sales down, average price up in 2017

Update to OCP one factor to watch in 2018

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Whistler's real estate market had another active year in 2017, according to the Whistler Real Estate Company's (WREC) annual market review, resulting in significant price appreciation and more than 1 billion dollars in transactions.

"There is a strong level of interest in purchasing property here. I don't think that's going to stop," said WREC president Pat Kelly.

The total number of transactions reported to the Whistler Listing Service decreased 16.2 per cent over 2016, but was offset by a 26-per-cent increase in the average transaction price ($1,163,392 compared to $901,451 in 2016).

"It looks like the point of origin for most of these people continues to be the Lower Mainland," Kelly said, noting that about 70 per cent of addresses given in 2017 were from the Lower Mainland area.

"So this spectre of massive foreign ownership in Whistler certainly didn't occur in 2017."

After two years of double-digit expansion, the market may be set to moderate, "but that's what I thought was going to happen last year, and it didn't happen," Kelly said.

"So I'm reluctant to go out on a limb and say 'yeah the appreciation is going to slow down.'"

With a lack of growth in Whistler, investors are turning to Pemberton and Squamish.

High demand in Pemberton resulted in an 8.5-per-cent increase in average transaction value in 2017, with almost all segments of the market experiencing significant average increases.

The average value of single-family residences went up 27 per cent (to $816,907), with some transactions exceeding $1 million for the first time, while average condo values jumped 32 per cent (to $334,911) and townhouses by 21 per cent (to $478,987).

"Obviously there is pent up demand for Whistler, but there is no land that we can develop into anything," Kelly said.

"Projects are now being successful up in Pemberton whereas four or five years ago they wouldn't have been, because there was supply down here. Now that there's no supply here, Pemberton also becomes viable as an investment opportunity."

As always, different external factors both near and far could impact the local market, but in terms of the next year or so, the update to Whistler's Official Community Plan (OCP) will be one to watch closely.

"The next year and the OCP is a big part of how the future is going to unfold here in terms of real estate, and so we're going to be as engaged as an organization as we can be to comment on what we think the outcomes are of decisions," Kelly said.

"But a market is a market. Buyers will buy, sellers will sell, and we'll just see what happens... (I see) a drop in activity but probably not a drop in value."

The future of Whistler's real estate market will be discussed in length at a Jan. 27, invite-only event hosted by the WREC titled "The View From Here."

Along with Kelly, speakers include MLA Jordan Sturdy, Resort Municipality of Whistler CAO Mike Furey, Whistler Blackcomb COO Pete Sonntag, Lil'wat Nation political chief Dean Nelson and Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union.

Check back with Pique for coverage of the meeting.

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