BC’s Ski Real Estate Sees Blistering Demand

After post-Olympic freeze, ski-home market has gone from thawing to sizzling – a problem for resort employees
Joannah Connolly
November 21, 2017

The market for ski homes in major BC resorts has gone from frozen to thawing to sizzling over the past decade, with extremely limited supply meeting hot demand, according to two luxury real estate brokerages.

It is now the norm for ski chalets and condos in resorts such as Whistler and Sun Peaks to get multiple offers and over-asking bids, reported Sotheby’s International Realty Canada in its annual Top-Tier Ski Real Estate Report, released November 20.

This is largely because of “dwindling inventory,” according to the Sotheby’s report.

“After the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler was flooded with close to 1,100 properties for sale... This entrenched the buyers’ market conditions that had endured since late 2008, and sustained them through to the end of 2012. The market began to transition to more balanced conditions in 2013 through 2015, then shifted towards a sellers’ market in the years following... Currently there are approximately 150 active listings in Whistler, which is well below the number needed.”

Nicholas Soldan Harriss, real estate representative at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, said, “In 2016, we started to see consistent amounts of bidding wars and multiple-offer situations. Now it’s the norm rather than the exception, especially for properties that are priced correctly.”

This has led to the average sale price in Whistler rising to $1.09 million this year from $877,488 in 2016, according to Sotheby’s. In Sun Peaks, sale prices are much lower but rising at an even faster rate, to an average of $416,508 across 2017 to date (January 1 to October 31, 2017) from $360,075 over the same period last year.

On the demand for real estate in Whistler, the report added, “While the vacation rental market is strong right now, and while Americans in particular are traveling to Whistler in higher numbers due to the continued strength of the US currency, the impact of foreign buyers on Whistler remains nominal compared to the overwhelming demand [for Whistler real estate] from the Lower Mainland.”

However, the hot Whislter market is making it tough for local residents to find homes. Harriss told Global BC, “That hot competition is having a serious effect on people who work in Whistler. Employers are having a hard time keeping staff because they have nowhere to live. So that’s the biggest issue that I see that needs to be dealt with in the next three years.”

With real estate prices escalating in Whistler, luxury brokerage Engel & Völkers has seen a knock-on effect to other ski resorts.

“Due to a high price increase in Whistler, buyers are looking elsewhere, like Big White. The amount of units sold has risen drastically over the past five years and the difference between 2015 and 2016 has risen by 86%,” said Richard Deacon, real estate advisor at Engel & Völkers Okanagan. "Since the dip in prices at Big White in 2012 we've seen units almost double over the past five years with a steady incline still in effect." e

Even though 2017 has seen lower sales in Big White than last year, this may be due to dwindling inventory, and prices in the Okanagan ski resort continue to rise as supply fails to keep up with demand (see graph below).

Engel & Volkers ski resort Big White real estate

In fact, the brokerage expects that across BC’s ski resorts, demand for real estate will keep rising.

“During the recession, demand for ski properties was low. Now that the economy has picked up, we’re seeing a lot of interest and activity in the BC ski market,” said Anthony Hitt, president & CEO of Engel & Völkers Americas. “As baby boomers prepare for retirement, they are starting to move their investing dollars into leisure properties, and the ski market is benefitting. We forecast that this will be one of the strongest buying seasons for top-tier ski real estate.”


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Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.