With 2019 well underway, it is time to take a look at what has been happening in the local Whistler real estate market and how the trends of 2018 may impact where we go from here as we move forward through the new year.
Over the course of 2018, the real estate market in Whistler continued to follow much the same course as was established in 2017. As the year progressed, the number or transactions began to decrease as the market slowed. The rapid pace of sales began to dwindle and many sellers found that their properties were staying on the market longer. This trend started slow at the beginning of the year and accelerated somewhat through the second half of 2018 as a result of rising interest rates, changes to mortgage approval rules, and a combination of government policies and taxes that had an impact on buyer enthusiasm. Combined, these factors resulted in overall slowdowns in real estate markets regionally and nationally, not just in Whistler.
Although down 26% from 2017, overall real estate activities (number of transactions) that occurred in 2018 remained consistent with the levels achieved prior to the peak of the current market cycle (in 2015 to 2017). Suggesting a return to more ‘normal’ levels of market activity. Meanwhile, 2018 demonstrated an 18.2% decrease in the total value of transactions that occurred (at $828 million) as compared to the previous year.
Despite an overall cooling of the market, overall values continued to increase with the average transaction value for a property in Whistler sitting at $1,250,168 at the end of 2018 (a 7.5% increase from 2017). The greatest price appreciation was seen in the medium density market segments. Interest was particularly high for family oriented accommodation (large townhomes and single-family homes) although scarcity of supply and high price points mitigated the amount of demand. Condos and townhomes that offered opportunities for short-term rentals (especially those located close the the Village and/or slopes) were also in very high demand.
It is also important to note that as the market slowed, the number of properties available for sale increased from the historical lows we witnessed at the start of the year. This means that there are more options for Buyers and potentially more competition for Sellers.
Breaking the numbers down a little more:
Combined, condo and townhome sales accounted for 67% of the total transactions and 56% of the total transaction value in 2018 – making them a critical portion of the local real estate market. Especially as increased international awareness (due to the Vail purchase) as well as significantly increasing overnight guest numbers continue to bring interest from traditional real estate investors and those looking to enjoy the “Whistler Lifestyle” while offsetting some of their ownership expenses.
In 2018, the luxury real estate market (properties listed at over $2 Million) accounted for 119 transactions with an average transaction value of $3,363,000. While the number of transactions remained very consistent with 2017, the average value is down slightly. Overall, these sales account for 18% of all transactions and about 48% of the total transaction value.
In Whistler, buyers will now find that many listings are priced at over $1,000 per square foot. This places our local real estate market on par with most of the other elite ski resorts in North America; however, when the exchange rate is taken into consideration, we remain good value from an international perspective.
Going forward through 2019 we expect to find ourselves in a more balanced marketplace with levels of activity remaining consistent with historical levels. We also anticipate the price appreciation will be more subdued as the market adjusts to more sustainable levels. That said, it is still possible that some properties will still surprise due to pent-dup demand for specific locations and types remains.
Going forward, buyers will continue to buy and sellers will continue to sell. Supply and demand will direct pricing in the year ahead and there will continue to be strong buyer interest in Whistler properties, especially those that are well priced and/or unique.
If you are curious about what your home is worth in today’s market, or if you are wondering how to be successful as a buyer in this market, or even if you are just looking to stay up-to-date on the current market trends, contact me and I will be happy to discuss the current market with you and how you can accomplish your real estate goals.
*All stats deemed to be accurate and taken from the Whistler Listing System, January 2o19