Whistler, once again, is the bright blip on the B.C. Assessment radar screen showing an overall increase in the value of residential real estate while the rest of the B.C. property market suffered a general decline.
Whistler properties on this year’s assessment roll have generally increased up to 10 per cent but the higher-end properties — those priced over $1 million — showed an even greater jump: 18-30 per cent.
That, said realtor Pat Kelly, is consistent with a market driven by a global economy, as opposed to the B.C economy, and he expects the trend in increasing prices to continue.
Kelly, president and owner of Whistler Real Estate, said in the short term it is the ‘resort’ properties that will increase significantly in value. He said luxury real estate close to amenities like the ski lifts, a golf course, a lake or close to the village will be fuelled by the international economy.
“There will be a very international resort buyer for that type of product but, in the Emeralds and Alpines of the world, that would be a more regional purchase and, in the short term, you would need to be a little bit more precise in terms of how you price your property if you want to sell it,” he said.
“In the long run, however, if the very wealthy can’t get the house right next to the ski runs, they will start looking at Alpine and White Gold and Whistler Cay and think of tearing down an ‘old shack’ and putting something else up.”
In terms of the assessment role, market movement is pegged at July 1, 1999. The B.C. Assessment authority takes an historical look at average real estate values attained until July last year and weighs them up against the previous year.
The market movement varies between provincial jurisdictions and neighbourhoods but, overall, B.C. Assessment reports there has been a decline in residential property values across B.C. between July 1, 1998 and July 1, 1999. Some communities affected by falling international resource prices are seeing a significant drop, while areas driven by tourism and lifestyle markets are less affected.
Area assessor Calvin Smyth said the higher priced Whistler properties in areas like Sunridge, Blueberry Hill, Nicklaus North and Horstman Estates, have increased up to 30 per cent while areas like Alpine saw a smaller two to three per cent increase.
Condominiums on this year’s assessment role are also generally valued higher than the previous year. The anomaly this time around, however, is Emerald Estates. While the resort saw an overall 10 per cent increase in values Emerald properties dipped an average 5.8 per cent. Area assessors say Emerald usually parallels the increase in Alpine but attribute this year’s drop to considerable publicity regarding the capital cost of the sewer hook-up. Assessors say they have heard the cost of sewer linkup could cost homeowners between $15,000 and $20,000 and this is the reason the market has dropped. This is the first time they have seen a drop in value outside the Whistler norm.