The real estate market in Whistler during the first quarter of 2021 continued to exhibit the themes and results experienced during the second half of 2020.
Historically high levels in the number of sales continued the upward pressure on values while reducing the number of listings and time on the market for those listings. Both factors meant we found ourselves in a market that was largely similar to the final quarter of 2020, and one that continues to strongly favor sellers at the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Our market conditions continue to be driven by very low-interest rates for borrowing, large amounts of disposable capital, the increased awareness of the effectiveness and flexibility of remote working, and the world-class beauty, lifestyle, and safety that living in Whistler offers.
As any quick google search for information on the housing market would confirm, Whistler’s first-quarter results are not unique. Canada’s real estate (particularly in smaller communities) is in high demand and will likely continue in the short term.
Market activity during the first quarter equaled or exceeded the historically high levels experienced during the last quarter of 2020. The total value of sales exceeded 450 million dollars, matching that reported in October to December of 2020. This also represents 40% of the value reported in all of 2020. The number of sales increased slightly to 312 which is the highest quarterly sales volume in a decade.
Overall, average sales value for the marketplace fell by 5% since the end of 2020 due to a significant increase in activity in the lower valued segments of the marketplace (condominiums and shared ownership)
Although activity levels overall remained relatively unchanged in the quarter, individual market segments performed differently. The single-family home market experienced a 10% reduction in sales activity due to the reduced number of listings, however, the average value of a sale rose by 3.4% as compared to the last quarter and now stands at $3,967,000 (median of $3,250,000). This is also a 15% increase over the average for 2020.
The townhouse market also saw a reduction in sales activity from the last quarter of 2020 also due to a limited number of listings. Sales activity in this category fell by 45%, however, the reported number of sales is consistent with historical quarterly levels over the last 10 years. Average sales value did increase by approximately 11% from the end of 2020, and now sits at $1,596,000 (median of $1,275,000)
The condominium market saw a strong increase of 25% in activity, while reporting a 5% increase in value from the start of the year to $885,000 ($779,000 median value)
The luxury market (properties over $4M) continued strong with 15 reported sales, which although being slightly lower than reported in the last quarter of 2020, still represents a level much higher than the average over the last 10 years.
Looking Ahead to Next Quarter
At the current time, the number of active listings in Whistler is 20% lower than at the end of 2020 and is at its lowest levels since the same quarter in 2018. We expect demand to remain very strong because of low-interest rates and a very high level of available capital. Once travel restrictions and short-term health concerns resolve we can expect even higher levels of interest. Market trends favoring sellers are expected to continue through the summer.
As things continue, there are a few things that may have an impact on our marketplace. The low levels of opportunity and current price for existing properties (in all categories) may cause purchasers to refocus on other areas of investment or simply decide to stop looking. Further, trends in construction costs and slow approval process means the supply of new developments or spec builds will trial demand significantly and increase the focus on already built properties. Additionally, any upward move in interest rates or inflation could impact buyer psychology.
We are now in the third quarter of double-digit growth in sales and values in Whistler, and we expect that any further growth in sales and values will be moderate for the foreseeable future.