So, what does the Vail Resorts acquisition mean for the real estate market in Whistler? Can we draw any conclusions from other marketplaces where Vail Resorts operate? How does Whistler stack up against some of the other resorts in its peer group?
Firstly, it is safe to say that that the Vail Resorts ownership brings an increased awareness of Whistler and significant brand credibility. In addition, it brings with it over 600,000 ski pass holders from all over the world who may now be empowered to ski Whistler. This alone cannot help but bring more people to Whistler to discover just what makes it such a great resort.
It is probable that some percentage of them will consider making an investment (particularly given the favourable exchange rate), even if only a small number ultimately decide to buy something. The incremental increase in demand in our very small and fixed-size market will definitely move the dial price wise with all else being equal.
Of course, a resort purchase decision is a function of many tangible and intangible factors; buyer confidence, value for money, selection, property amenities, community services, available financing, safety of process, taxation, and the value or outlook for alternative investments, etc. All of these factors, which are specific to a resort, are part of the reason that real estate, and particularly resort real estate is a ‘local’ experience.
Comparing resort statistics
Trying to objectively compare one resort to another is difficult. Certainly statistical analysis can be problematic as property descriptions, total market size – both geographical and numerical – local bylaws and regulations, and of course the complete resort package that is associated with the area, make it impossible to compare ‘apples to apples’.
However we can look at the more macro indicators and get a general sense of market trends and general values. For the purpose of this article we examined information available for Vail, Breckenridge, Park City, Lake Tahoe, Jackson Hole and of course Whistler. Below are graphs representing total values of sales, total number of sales, and average transaction value (All prices listed in CAD, converted at 1.25 from USD)
What does it mean?
Clearly all real estate markets have seeing upward trend activity and in most cases price appreciation. From the Whistler perspective it is important to note: a) That our market is quite small in comparison to our peers both in terms of total value and number of transactions; And b) in terms of average values, Whistler continues to be at the low end of the value range as compared to its peers despite an increase in average transaction value over the last 5 years.
Analyzing resort real estate is, of course, not that simple and a wide variety of factors will ultimately impact the results and trends in any specific marketplace and for any specific property.
That being said, given the expected increase in people coming to Whistler, a continued stable economic situation which supports buyer/investor confidence in North America, and Whistler’s low average price point relative to direct competitors, while offering a superior overall experience, the data suggests the continued appreciation of values in the Whistler area can be expected.