The Real Estate Market
Through the first quarter of 2020, the real estate market in Whistler followed trends experienced throughout southwestern BC with a strong and improving marketplace during January and February, followed by a significant slow down in March as result of a global and local shutdown of most parts of the economy and society due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were 110 new firm transactions reported in the first three months of 2020 as compared to 151 in the previous quarter and 131 for the same quarter in 2019. This is largely a result of a 50% drop in activity during the month of March as compared to February 2020 and March 2019.
Despite these lower levels of activity, values either remained steady or increased slightly. The overall average transaction value in the first quarter was $1,482,000 as compared to $1,247,000 at the end of 2019. Dollar per square foot sales value has also remained steady and continues to range between $1,000 and $1,200 a square foot. The luxury market (list price over $3 million) stayed very consistent compared to a year ago with 5 sales over $6,000,000 reported. This continues to show confidence in Whistler in the long term from high net worth individuals.
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Navigating through COVID-19
Having been in business in Whistler since 1978, The Whistler Real Estate Company has experienced numerous periods of uncertainty and negativity, both locally and globally. Since the turn of the century alone, the company is now experiencing our third unexpected event that will impact both our national and local economies. Our experience has been that no matter what the short-term challenges are, we have seen that both Whistler and Pemberton bounce back with resilience. In the case of real estate, values and demand for real estate in the area increase.
There are many reasons for this; our beautiful natural setting, a planning framework and geography that limits supply, a full range of services and recreational opportunities for residents and tourists, and a young educated entrepreneurial business community that has embraced the vision of being North American’s number one ski resort. Add in the success B.C. is having to attract people and capital investment, its performance in the current scenario regarding health and safety, customers becoming more comfortable with remote work, historically low-interest rates for the foreseeable future exchange rate for foreign buyers, and the desirability of real assets in turbulent times, and we believe Whistler and Pemberton will continue to be a desirable place to own real estate in the long run.
That is not to say that we will not face some adversity and challenges in the coming months. We expect the number of sales transactions to be below historical levels until the fourth quarter of 2020 and that buyers will be looking for value which will lead to downward price pressure on average sales value in some segments of the market. It may be some time before we again experience the robust tourism numbers of 2017-2019. There is little question that there will be a reset as we reestablish and attract people to the area. In the long run, however, we will be just fine, and the future is bright.
The real estate market in Whistler is a highly unique and nuanced market. If you have been thinking of buying or selling, or if you just want to stay up-to-date, don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your specific area(s) of interest and how the current conditions may impact you. I am working from home in creative ways to make sure I can still meet all my client’s needs and I am always available by phone, email, text, FaceTime, or Zoom.
This information is deemed to be accurate and is taken from the Whistler Listing System, April 2020