The HST on new homes may have been hamstringing the value and the pace of sales at Cheakamus Crossing, but the Riverbend market development is now more than 50 per cent sold out.
That means Whistler's multi-million dollar debt, through the Whistler Development Corp. (WDC), is slowly getting paid down with each sale.
By the end of this week that debt will be $8.5 million to the Municipal Finance Authority, down from the $100 million the municipality initially borrowed to finance the $161 million athletes' village development.
The WDC owes a further $15 million to municipal reserves, which it plans to pay off after retiring the MFA loan by bringing on new market lots and multi-family developments at Cheakamus.
The HST has been a major sticking point in the contract negotiations, according to WDC Board chair Eric Martin, and that's one of the reasons why the board decided to swallow the HST in the price in the spring of 2011.
"I think a lot of people are probably doing that, especially if you have existing inventory," he said. "Obviously it's a long wait. There's no sense sitting there waiting for 18 months."
Originally the units were priced at $790,000 plus the HST for a total price of about $950,000. They are now between $700,000 and $750,000 including HST.
They were, said Pat Kelly, owner of the Whistler Real Estate Co., which is selling the units, likely aggressively priced at the time.
"I think they're very good value now," said Kelly. "They're exactly where they should be."
It's better to include the HST in the overall price, he added, so that purchasers know the final tally and can also compare prices to units that don't have HST.
"They're much more comfortable knowing right at the start exactly how much money they're going to pay for the property," added Kelly.
Nine units remain of the 20-unit Riverbend development. Seven of the nine market lots for sale at Madeley Place.