Tips for Buying a Ski Resort Condo or Chalet

This article is an edited extract from
Self-Counsel Press
December 8, 2015

Buy and Sell Recreational Real Estate in Canada by Geraldine Santiago, published by and reprinted here with the permission of Self-Counsel Press. To download the full e-book or for more information, click here

When purchasing a resort condominium, be aware that some areas, such as Whistler, have “unrestricted” and “restricted” classifications for condominiums. An unrestricted unit, also known as a “Phase One” condo, is generally found in the small, lodge-type buildings in the village. There are no restrictions on owner usage, but an organized rental program is available for those times when the owner is not using the unit. An example of an organized rental program is one in which the developer, management company, strata corporation or group of owners has hired a property management company to look after the rental of the entire condominium’s units, handling bookings, cleaning, maintenance and so on.

A restricted unit is also known as a “Phase Two” condo. These are studio and one- and two-bedroom apartment condominiums incorporated into a resort hotel. The owner is restricted to occupying the unit for 28 days in the winter and 28 days in the summer. Benefits of buying a Phase Two condo include revenue from renting your allotted time in the unit, a potential tax shelter, and access to various hotel services and facilities during one’s stay. This type of unit is best suited for the occasional visitor to the resort or for the investor only interested in revenue.

You should speak to a qualified agent in the area who can provide you with more details about these types of restrictions and uses.

And remember that when you buy any condominium, whether as your primary or your vacation home, you will be governed by that property’s bylaws and regulations. Before you buy, read the minutes of the condominium’s strata council meetings, and find out the rules and regulations that the strata council has established.

Ski-in/Ski-out Condominiums

Ski-in/ski-out condominiums mean that you can literally ski in and ski out of the door of your property. It is important to find out whether the property you are purchasing is truly a ski-in/ski out condominium. Although there are many properties advertised as “ski-in/ski-out,” a ski hill may still be quite a distance from the property.

Sometimes ski resorts have a central ski village where restaurants, pubs and ski repair shops are located. It may be that the central ski village is located far from the property and that you need to drive to get to the village centre.

If you do purchase a true ski-in/ski-out property, it is a very good investment. If you choose to rent out your property, it is obviously very desirable for vacation skiers; and if you choose to sell, the resale value is very high.

Ski Chalets and Winter Cabins

When purchasing a ski chalet or winter cabin, it is most likely that you will be purchasing in a developed area that offers a multitude of activities for the entire family, such as snowboarding, skating, skiing (downhill and cross-country), snowmobiling, ice fishing and snowshoeing. Consider the location of the property. How close is it to these activities, the ski village or the lake for ice fishing? How close are the amenities?

There are many “dream homes” in developed ski areas. Many winter cabins are state-of-the- art log cabins that are rainproof and durable as well as eco-friendly. Such winter cabins may also have skylight windows, fireplaces, hot tubs and many other luxury features.

If you are purchasing in a ski resort, find out what types of security are available for the area, but more specifically for your property. This becomes more of an issue should you be away for extended periods of time. Keep in mind that many ski resort developments offer security patrol for the community. You may also want to ask your agent about road clearing services during heavy winter snowfalls.

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