April 1, 2011
The ski season plows on at Whistler Blackcomb but, as even the New York Times noticed this week, the bloom is off the rose luxury real-estate wise in what is commonly thought of as Canada’s only true ‘jet-set’ attraction.
As Vancouver’s housing market keeps moving from hot to hotter, two hours up the Sea to Sky Highway, real estate prices are in what is, by Whistler standards, a slump. It’s not uncommon for houses to languish on the market for a year or more – the Times article cites a few examples including a 5-bedroom home on a Jack Nicklaus golf course with views of the slopes which has been attracting little interest at $3.5 million.
Why? Essentially, Americans are increasingly put off by border hassles and their declining purchasing power relative to the Canadian dollar, and the Chinese market, largely responsible for Vancouver’s continuing demand, are not as interested in snapping up property in the Whistler area.
American buyers account for 7 percent to 8 percent of the home market, which is well down from the usual 10 percent to 12 percent says Pat Kelly, owner of Whistler Real Estate Company. There is, experts note, a general sense among Americans that resort property is, at the moment, an unwise investment.
Here’s the thing, though: there’s no real reason that Americans will always be this cautious about Whistler, at least as an investment opportunity. And, perhaps more importantly, skiing has never been popular with mainland Chinese – until very recently. So, while Whistler may currently by something of a bargain – at least at the high end – it may not last. . .