Throughout 2018, the real estate market in Whistler continued to follow the trends established in 2017. Over the course of the year, market activity continued to slow as the number of transactions decreased and sellers found their listings staying on the market longer. This process was somewhat accelerated through the second half of the year as rising interest rates and new mortgage approval rules, combined with a variety of new government policies and taxes aimed at real estate, began to impact buyer enthusiasm and create a broad based slow down in real estate locally, regionally, and nationally.
In 2018, overall real estate sales activity in the community was down by 26% as compared to 2017 and is consistent with the levels seen prior to the peak of the local market cycle in 2015-2017. The total value of the transactions reported to the Whistler Listing system for 2018 was approximately $828 million, down 18.2% from the prior year.
Despite a slowing in market activity, average values in the area continued to increase with the greatest appreciation seen in the medium density sectors of the market. The overall average transaction value for a Whistler property in 2018 was $1,250,168, a 7.5% increase from 2017.
Family oriented accommodation (including single-family homes and large townhouses) continued to attract strong interest; however, the scarcity of opportunities and higher average price points mitigated the amount of demand. As such, average values for single-family home transactions in 2018 only appreciated by approximately 2.5%.
Condominiums and townhomes that offer short term rental potential, particularly those located close to the Village and/or ski slopes, were in very high demand in 2018. Increased international awareness as a result of the Vail purchase as well as the success of the community in significantly increasing overnight guests to the resort created strong interest from both traditional real estate investors and those just looking to offset a portion of their ownership costs through professional management or by self-management.
Overall, the average transaction value for condominiums in Whistler increased by just over 11% to $664,390 while the average townhouse transaction value increased by 33% to $1,526,168 in 2018. Accounting for 67% of local market activity and 56% of the total market value, the condominium and townhouse sectors represent the majority of the transactions in the Whistler real estate marketplace.
The luxury market (defined as properties sold in excess of $2 million) continues to be a strong part of the Whistler market and, with 119 total transactions, activity remained very consistent as compared to 2017. Overall these sales represent 18% of all transactions and approximately 48% of the total transaction value for the community. The average transaction value for this market sub-group was $3,363,000, down slightly from the previous year.
Many properties in Whistler are now valued and selling in excess of $1,000 a square foot which places our real estate market on par with most of the elite ski resorts in North America. However, when exchange rates are taken into account, we continue to be good value from an international perspective.
As activity in the marketplace slowed, the number of properties available for sale has increased from the historical low witnessed at the start of 2018. We expect this trend to continue through 2019. With no new development to be introduced in the near future we also expect that prices will continue to be supported by low supply.
Going forward we expect the Whistler real estate market to be a more balanced marketplace with levels of activity consistent with our historical levels. General price appreciation will be subdued in 2019, although some individual properties may surprise due to pent up demand for certain locations and types. Short of a large negative global economic event, we expect buyers will continue to want to buy and sellers will want to sell. As such, supply and demand will direct pricing in the year ahead.
The real estate market in Whistler is small, unique, and highly dynamic that cannot be easily defined against larger, non-resort markets. Those interested in real estate in Whistler are well advised to keep up-to-date on their specific interests by contacting Elizabeth Chaplin on 604-932-1311 or email: [email protected]