Single family market under pressure The Whistler real estate market has been hot for many years, but as the resort matures the demand for certain types of properties is changing. Condo-hotel properties, which Whistler pioneered, have long been attractive both on an investment level and to weekend visitors who can use the property and/or put it in a rental pool to earn revenue. Single family homes have always been in demand, but as Whistler continues to grow as a community it has become more attractive as a permanent home to many people. One of the most important community facilities affecting the single family market may be the new Whistler Secondary. "It’s probably the single greatest factor that’s put pressure on our single family market," says Michael d’Artois of ReMax of Whistler. The local high-school age population increased nearly 58 per cent between September 1994 and September 1995. This year the population is up a further 67 per cent. Mike Wintermute of the Whistler Real Estate Company doesn’t think there are too many families picking up and moving to Whistler just because there is now a high school, but he and d’Artois agree the situation has changed from a few years ago when families often moved away from Whistler as their children approached high school age. "We’ll probably have a greater ratio of occupied single family houses to unoccupied in the future," d’Artois says. "It’s going to be the meat of the next Town Hall Meeting, the community and single family housing." And it’s not just young families moving to Whistler or staying in Whistler, many people who have owned a second home in Whistler for years are deciding to retire here as the range of community facilities grows. Some are retiring earlier than they had planned. So with families both young and old holding on to their single family homes and some new families moving to town because of the community amenities, the supply of single family homes is dwindling. Prices, of course, are going up as demand increases. "When I see families buying homes — not even superior homes — spending $500,000, they’re taking equity out of somewhere else and investing it in Whistler," d’Artois says. As most people know by now, Whistler has imposed a ceiling on development. That ceiling has not yet been reached but there are few single family developments planned among the remaining unused development rights. That could mean the price of single family houses goes up even more, but council can grant additional development rights for projects that are 100 per cent affordable housing. However, part of future discussions on affordable housing may include some consideration of how many permanent employees Whistler needs and what type of home is most desirable. For his part, d’Artois feels the ceiling on development should be preserved within the town’s immediate boundaries, but some affordable housing could be developed at the south end of the valley, in the Cal-Cheak and McGuire areas.