Re: “Hold your nose again” (Maxed Out, Pique Aug. 28)
The recent article by Max requires some clarification. As a general comment, Whistler and the WHA have never had the number of new WHA employee-restricted homes constructed at one time. At Cheakamus Crossing alone, there will be 221 WHA homes in six different strata developments.
In order to minimize interest and housing costs and reduce the final cost to the purchaser, as well as any risk to the taxpayers of Whistler, the WDC determined it was advantageous to commence a sales program well in advance of the date a purchaser could take occupancy. Prospective purchasers, however, expressed concern over the fact that the home, their home, was completed (and occupied by VANOC) 12 to 18 months before they could move in. In fairness to the purchasers, and as an incentive to purchase, the WDC suggested it would be reasonable to commence the indexing of the home upon execution of a binding sales agreement. Although this is not the normal policy of the WHA, Cheakamus Crossing is not a normal development project, having to provide accommodation for the 2010 Games in advance of the owner taking occupancy and funded by the municipality with grants from VANOC and land from the province, all with conditions attached.
The proposed indexing could increase the potential resale value of the home depending on when the purchase is made. Given the Cheakamus Crossing selling prices, however, the value of the home, even if indexing commences two years prior to occupancy, will be $20-40/sq.ft. less than the recent sales of comparable WHA homes. If anything, current WHA homeowners should be pleased that the potential value of new homes at Cheakamus Crossing, including any indexed value, will be closer to the value of their home so that its value is not discounted in the WHA marketplace due to lower-priced similar new product. The intent was not to give purchasers an “unasked for bonus,” but rather, respond to market conditions and reduce potential development risk.
Due to the number and variety units, in six different projects, and a sales program that must ensure the integrity of the waitlist, over a two-year timeframe, a third-party professional realty company was deemed to be appropriate. Again, the intent was to reduce the possibility of development risk.
While there are approximately 500 prospective purchasers on the waitlist, the sales records of previous WHA projects have indicated that less than 30 per cent of those on the waitlist actually purchase. A marketing, advertising and communications budget was set to ensure those wishing to purchase a home were aware of Cheakamus Crossing, had access to site and unit plans and a website, in order that they were aware of the various options and could make an informed decision. The budget includes a site model and open houses, etc., and is intended to assist those in the valley who are looking for permanent housing, in understanding the multi-project development and the opportunity they have. It should be noted that, to date, less than half of this budget is spent and any funds not expended (in any budget line item) remain with the RMOW for the development of future affordable housing under the Housing Reserve Fund Bylaw.