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Whistler real estate market on the rebound

Pemberton values also bouncing back from flat times



By Clare Ogilvie

This season’s fantastic snow has brought more than just a needed boost to business and recreation.

It has also help boost the real estate market, said Pat Kelly, president if the Whistler Real Estate Company.

“…We have had a much better tourist season in the last 12 months and that has brought more people to town, and when you bring more people to town some of those people are going to be buyers,” he said.

Other factors are also at play, including a growing recognition that Whistler real estate is really good value for money.

And even the 2010 Winter Olympics is having some effect by making buyers feel confident the region is a place where good things are happening.

“I think real estate values in a lot of other areas have gone up significantly, whereas Whistler hasn’t, so Whistler looks like an increasingly better value,” said Kelly.

As for the Olympics said Kelly: “I think it helps people’s confidence. The story is a positive story. We all, as investors or property owners, want to know that the area we are purchasing in has positive things happening and that is a very positive story and the infrastructure and the legacies that are being left behind are positive stories.”

New ventures such as the Peak to Peak gondola connecting Whistler and Blackcomb is also part of the positive web of events. And the resort-emptying weather of two seasons ago finally seems to have been forgotten.

Most of the buyers are the traditional ones you would expect — people from the Lower Mainland, Whistler itself, and the Pacific Northwest in general.

There have been some buyers form the United Kingdom and Asia as well, said Kelly.

In Whistler the real estate companies working in the community recorded over 200 individual transactions worth in excess of $160 million in the most recent quarter.

Overall market activity increased by 60 per cent in dollar value and 75 per cent in total number of sales over the same period a year ago. Kelly said the single family and townhouse market was particularly strong, building on a trend that started in the second half of 2006. The median value of a home at the end of last month was $1.25 million.

Pemberton also experienced a turnaround, said Kelly.

“As the affordability and availability of entry level properties in Whistler and Squamish increasingly disappear more people will consider the Pemberton area as an option,” he said.

“…Whereas we used to see a lot of people from Whistler going down to Squamish to buy they are now either staying in Whistler and buying the affordable housing or they are looking at Pemberton.”