For the first time ever an employee housing unit has sold for
less than its maximum resale price.
Employee housing owners have always been offered top bucks for
their homes… until this week, when the owners of a Bear Ridge townhouse
accepted an offer $5,000 less than the $450,000 asking price.
Whistler Housing Authority general manager Marla Zucht said the
situation is a bit of an anomaly because the unit is bigger than most
three-bedroom units in the inventory at 1,700 square feet.
At the same time, she’s been expecting this to happen as
employee housing projects tied to the Vancouver market climb
out of reach for some Whistler employees —
this price-restricted unit has appreciated 47 per cent ($143,000) since it was
built four years ago.
“We’ve been waiting for it and expecting it to happen,” said
Zucht, of the sale which was finalized Tuesday. “This is telling us that we’re
hitting the purchase price threshold for people that are on the waitlist for
This is one of the reasons why council, based on the WHA
board’s recommendation, unanimously voted to standardize all appreciation
formulas in the housing inventory upon resale and for any new units coming on
Once sold, this Bear Ridge unit will only appreciate at the
Core Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate, a modest 2 per cent annually.
This appreciation is more consistent with the philosophy behind
employee housing, said Zucht.
“It’s a home ownership (opportunity); it’s not an investment,”
she said. “The provision of a home is more important than the return on
investment. That’s foremost.
“There are trade-offs for living in this beautiful resort
But to Shelley Quinn, who owns a unit in 19 Mile Creek that is
also tied to the Vancouver market, it feels like the WHA is pulling out the rug
from under her feet.
Quinn, along with other owners in the development, says the WHA
has changed the rules of the game on them, and they’re determined to fight
“When we purchased in 19 Mile there were certain premises that
were in place, such as the appreciation formula,” said Quinn.
“We were investing into a home and basically that’s being
The appreciation formula, unique to 19 Mile, Bear Ridge and the
Beaver Flats duplexes, was a selling point for Quinn who saw it as a chance to
recoup some money on their investment. They would not have bought the unit, she
said, had it been tied to the CPI. In fact, they were looking in Squamish but
the Vancouver appreciation formula at 19 Mile was a selling point; not only
could they remain in Whistler, they could also make some money.