The 2012 Year in Review
Whistler’s real estate market continued to show steady growth throughout 2012 finishing the year at levels of sales activity not seen since 2008. Strong interest and demand for family oriented, lifestyle properties fueled increases in values for chalets and townhouses and, although investment condos continued to experience volatility in value, unit sales remained steady.
Overall the Whistler market saw a 5% improvement in total unit sales volume and a 7.5% increase in the total value of sales over the previous year. Townhouses and condominiums continue to dominate the market and account for over 65% of all transactions. Despite media perceptions, Whistler continues to offer a vast selection of affordable opportunities with almost 70% of the properties available for sale and 80% of all transactions being valued at under $1,000,000.
The single family market had a slight drop in activity from 2011 as a result of fewer opportunities. However, the average mean and median value of sales increased by 5.6% and 11% respectively. The average sales value of a chalet in Whistler in 2012 was $1,593,000 – the highest level since 2008. Single family properties continue to be the most valuable area of the market in Whistler.
The townhouse market was the strongest market segment in 2012 with a 20% increase in total unit sales volume, and a healthy 4.5% increase in average value over 2011. The average value of a townhouse sold in 2012 increased to just over $682,000 by the end of the year.
Although sales of condominiums remained unchanged, the segment continued to experience valuation volatility with the average price sitting at 6% lower than 2011 at $363,000.
Single family lot sales and shared ownership (fractional and quarter-shares) maintained comparable levels of activity during 2012 as compared to 2011, although both segments experienced average value decreases of between 12-14% as both segments adjusted to new consumer preferences.
Purchasers and investors in Whistler continue to be primarily from the Greater Vancouver regional area. Sales activity in 2012 indicates that almost 70% of Whistler purchasers originate from west of the Port Mann bridge and the second largest source of buyers is from within the Whistler community itself. American buyers continue to be the largest identifiable group after this, accounting for about 7% of the market activity. Interestingly, despite recent world economic incentives, these percentages have changed only marginally in the last 3 to 4 years.
In the commercial market place, 2012 was a positive year for investors and landlords. At the start of the year there were significant vacancies in all commercial and retail areas; however, as a result of moderating lease rates and creative deal making by landlords, lease space opportunities both in the Village Stroll and on the edges (defined as everything other than the Village Stroll) has significantly diminished. A number of new businesses have successfully been introduced in Whistler and this has led to a current vacancy rate of 2.25% in the Village and Upper Village areas. Additionally the industrial and service areas in Function Junction showed strong growth with an 80% reduction in spaces available for lease. As the general economy continues to improve and Whistler continues to diversify its year round experience, we expect continued strength in the commercial and investment market.
The Whistler experience continues to evolve, offering new events, amenities, and experiences to share with family and friends. The strong initiative to develop our Arts and Culture sector, as demonstrated by the Audain Art Museum announcement, and our aggressive program of festivals, events and activities has and will continue to attract new segments of visitors to the area and broaden the appeal of our real estate offerings.
The improving economy, stable interest rates, increased awareness of both Whistler’s range of experiences and services, and the town’s accessibility will continue to attract investors, second-home residents, and full-timers to the area.
We expect 2013 to continue the upward trend seen in 2012. The last two years of growth in sales activity have led to a reduction in the number of properties for sale, particularly in the lower price ranges of the family-orientated and lifestyle properties. We expect upward price momentum to continue for single family homes, townhouses, and non-rental condominiums. Improved tourism numbers in the resort should stabilize the volatility in the rental condo market, and, as already built properties are removed from the marketplace by sale, we expect to see more focus on vacant lots and new construction.
As always, we recommend consulting with a Whistler Real Estate advisor with regards to specific properties in the area in order to get the best advice to make the right purchase for you and your family at the best price!
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