The BC Assessment rolls of property values doesn’t tell the entire story for Whistler’s real estate market for 2013, leaving out the second half of the year when — according to local realtor Pat Kelly — sales started to pick up in the resort.
He agrees with the overall assessment, which showed a 0.43 per cent overall increase in residential assessments for Whistler, as well as the slight decline of 0.71 per cent for commercial real estate. However, he notes that there are signs that the recovery is continuing at an even higher pace for some categories of real estate.
“I’m showing 640 (real estate) transactions for Whistler (in 2013) with the average price of $710,000 overall — which is kind of a silly number in some ways, but does give us a kind of snapshot for the market as a whole,” said Kelly, president and CEO of Whistler Real Estate Co. “In 2012 the average (sales) value was $670,000 with 587 transactions.”
Kelly said that the annual average for Whistler before the recession of 2008 was between 650-700 sales a year, although with only a limited number of new homes being built in Whistler he said it would be a challenge to get back to those highs.
Overall, Kelly said that single family homes and chalets were flat, condos and townhouses increased and shared ownership housing was down.
“Our own opinion is that the real estate market in Whistler hit bottom about two years ago,” said Kelly. “2010 was by far the most challenging year, there was a shallow impact heading into 2011, and around the end of 2011 we started to see an improvement in sales activity — and you need the level of sales activity to improve before sales prices will improve.”
Kelly said they won’t know the finals numbers for the year until mid-January, but said 2013 was “good overall.”
“It was a good year and it was predictable, with a good volume of transactions from an historical perspective,” he said. “Next year is looking good, too — a few years ago we were looking at a situation where someone selling a house couldn’t be sure they would even find a buyer, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. If it’s reasonably price and presented in a reasonable manner, there’s a buyer.”
That said, he’s also advising homeowners to consider their assessments carefully, and is encouraging people to call local realtors to get more information on what’s happening in their neighbourhoods recently if they think their assessment is too high. For example, a home purchase might have taken place after July 1 that is out of line with the provincial assessment for that property.
“That’s one of the services that realtors can provide,” he said, adding that assessment workers can only make rough estimates based on sales, but don’t actually visit homes to see what the condition is or how it might have influenced the price.