News » Whistler

Whistler’s real estate market shows no sign of cooling off



The only real estate in Whistler that did not see an increase on this year’s assessment roll were condominiums in the town centre.

Otherwise, resort properties generally saw increases of 10 to 21 per cent, with some single-family homes in the higher-end subdivisions of Sunridge, Blueberry Hill, Snowridge, Green Lakes and Horstman Estates jumping 48 to 70 per cent.

The high-end spike comes on top of 18 to 30 per cent increases last year.

"Virtually everything in Whistler has increased but the town centre condominiums were pretty much holding their own," said Calvin Smyth, area assessor for B.C. Assessment. "There was pretty much no increase there."

Smyth said the stable value of hotel condo units could be attributed to increases in supply without a corresponding increase in demand.

The village condos are more reflective of the trend throughout B.C. this year, where the annual review of the province’s real estate markets shows that residential property values remain flat on average.

The only notable exceptions on the 2001 assessment roll were in Whistler and the District of West Vancouver. All property types in West Vancouver saw an increase in assessed value, with significant jumps in real estate near the waterfront and in British Properties.

Smyth said the trend in Whistler is once again evidence of a market being driven by international forces isolated from the rest of the province.

"Even the weaker subdivisions, and by weaker I mean the lower value subdivisions of Emerald Estates and Alpine, just went along on the coat tails of everything else," noted Smyth.

"Whistler has just boomed."

Last year Emerald saw an overall 5.8 per cent dip in assessed value, which Smyth attributed to publicity surrounding the cost of municipal sewer hook-up in that subdivision. That, however, seems to no longer be a factor in the real estate market. For example, a single-family home in Emerald valued at $350,000 in the summer of 1999 would have been worth $410,000 in the summer of 2000.

The value of real estate as of July 1, 2000 is what appears on the 2001 assessment roll and properties are taxed based on that figure. The B.C. Assessment office uses the common valuation date of July 1 each year to ensure that assessments do not reflect short-term fluctuations on a month-to-moth basis.

It is the market that determines the value of a property and the assessment authority reports that value to the property owner and taxing authorities.

"Whistler is seeing an enhancement in value and Emerald has been part of that," said Smyth. All single-family is being impacted by the demand for real estate in Whistler."

Smyth said a single-family home in Alpine Meadows valued at $475,000 in the summer of 1999 would have sold for $527,000 in the summer of 2000.

The increases are even more significant in the pricier subdivisions. For example, a single-family dwelling in Blueberry valued at around $1.6 million in the summer of 1999 would have been worth $2.3 million the following summer.

Smyth said condominiums were generally also valued higher this year than in previous years. A condo in Creekside that sold for $325,000 in July 1999, for example, would have sold for $370,000 in July 2000. Condominiums in Snowridge in Nordic Estates saw a 30 per cent increase in value while those on the Benchlands saw a 22 per cent increase over the summer of 1999.

"There seems to big demand for Whistler real estate and there seems to be a somewhat limited supply," noted Smyth. "It has done very well on the international market, it has been rated the number one ski resort in North America and its reputation is preceding it when it comes to travellers."

Even Pemberton is riding on the coat tails of Whistler’s international success, said Smyth. The farming community saw an average nine per cent increase in property values this year.

Squamish, however, is isolated from the trend. Apart from Brackendale, market movement in Squamish between July, 1999 and July, 2000 was relatively insignificant.

For example, a single-family home that would have sold for $210,000 in the summer of 1999 was valued again at $210,000 in the summer of 2000.

Most condominiums in Squamish decreased slightly in value as evidenced by recent sales in that region. A typical suite that would have sold for $140,000 in the summer of 1999 would have sold for $135,000 to $140,000 the following summer.

In the rest of the province, Victoria saw modest increases in waterfront properties in Oak Bay, while Esquimalt and Saanich experienced marginal increases. Nanaimo saw a drop in values. Tofino, Ucluelet, Courtenay, Powell River, Port Hardy and Campbell River all saw slight decreases.

In the Lower Mainland, values for all types of properties in Vancouver remained flat on both the east and west sides. North Vancouver experienced marginal increases.

Property values in Sechelt decreased, with some strata properties dropping significantly.

Whistler’s assessment roll increased this year to about $5.6 billion from $4.6 billion last year. The assessment roll in Squamish, by contrast, is about $1.4 billion representing about a $4.4 million decrease over last year.

Smyth said the approximately $1 billion increase in the Whistler assessment roll reflects increases in market values for many properties, but also includes subdivisions, rezoning and new construction.

Any new subdivision or rezoning registered with the land title office as of Nov. 30 last year is included in the assessment roll.

That means lots in the new Spring Creek subdivision are not yet on the assessment roll.

Whistler council only voted Nov. 20 to approve a development permit for the Spring Creek subdivision, which put Intrawest in a position to apply for subdivision of the single-family lots in that area.

Houses that had been partially constructed were valued as they stood by Oct. 30 last year.

A half-finished house as of Oct. 30, for example, would go on the roll at half its completed value.

Whistler property owners should have received their individual assessment notices advising them of the assessed value of their homes by Jan. 15. More than 12,000 notices have been mailed to Whistler property owners

"If any property owners feel their property assessment is not reflective of market value as of July 1, 2000, or the information contained in their assessment notice is incorrect, they are encouraged to contact B.C. Assessment directly," said Smyth.

Lists of assessments by address are also available at municipal hall.