With 2019 well underway, it is time to take a moment to reflect on how the real estate market performed in Whistler through 2018 so that we can better understand the trends and come to some conclusions about what we can expect moving forward.
Following much the same trends as those established in 2017, real estate market activity continued to slow through 2018 and, as the number of transactions decreased, most sellers found their properties 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.
Overall, the number of completed real estate transactions was down 26% in 2018 as compared to 2017 demonstrating a return to more historic levels seen prior to the market peak in 2015 to 2017. With a total value of approximately $828 million, the total value of the real estate that changed hands in 2018 was down 18.2% from 2017.
That said, the overall average value for a property in Whistler continued to increase by 7.5% over 2017 and we found it sitting at $1,250,168 by the end of the 2018. The greatest levels of price appreciation were seen in the medium density market segments with family oriented properties (single-family homes and large townhome) continuing to attract strong interest. Condos and townhomes that provided opportunities for short-term rental potential (especially those in the Village and Benchlands) were also in very high demand.
The average value for single-family home transactions in 2018 appreciated by approximately 2.5% while the average value for a townhome appreciated 33% to $1, 526,168 and the average value for a condo increased just over 11% to $664, 390. 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.
With 119 transactions in 2018, the luxury market (properties sold in excess of $2 million) continued to be a strong part of the Whistler market and represented 18% of all transactions and approximately 48% of the total transaction value for the community. The average transaction value (sitting at $3,363,000 at year-end) was down slightly for this market segment as compared to 2017.
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 market activity in Whistler slowed, the number of properties available for sale began to rebound (slowly) from the historical lows experienced at the beginning of 2018. We expect this trend to continue through 2019. With no new development to be introduced in the near future we can expect prices to be supported by low supply.
As we continue to move forward through 2019, we expect the real estate market in Whistler 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 a small, uniquely nuance, and highly dynamic marketplace that cannot be easily defined against larger, non-resort markets. If you have been thinking of buying or selling, or if you are just looking to stay in the loop, don’t hesitate to contact me any time.