Greetings from my home to yours. It’s certainly been an interesting few weeks with the change of pace we are all now experiencing. I hope you are staying healthy and keeping in good spirits. I have to say I feel incredibly fortunate to live in Whistler. My family and I have been able to get outside and still be active despite all that is happening. We have also had many weeks of sunny weather, which is a bonus for this time of year.
On the real estate front, it’s no surprise that sales have slowed down given all that is going on, however we are fairly optimistic over the long run that Whistler’s market will bounce back just fine. For reasons I eluded to above, Whistler is going to do well because of it’s connection to nature, it’s relatively small size combined with modern conveniences. I think this pandemic is going to allow people to re-evaluate the importance of investing in their lifestyle and health and for this reason I think we will come out of this market better than perhaps some other areas.
Both Jamie and I are continuing to work during this time. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the real estate market, please feel free to give me a call at your convenience. I would love to hear from you!
Real estate markets in the first quarter of 2020 in Whistler and Pemberton 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.
The numbers for the quarter are as follows; in Whistler, 110 new firm transactions were reported 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 the previous month or 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 (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.
Pemberton Real Estate Market
The Pemberton Marketplace also showed a significant drop in activity. but as a small marketplace with a very limited supply of opportunity, this marketplace typically will show more variability in activity quarter to quarter. Overall sales activity dropped approximately 35% as compared to the previous quarter and by 50% as compared to the same quarter of 2019. Like Whistler, however, values remained steady and consistent with those reported at the end of 2019. With low-interest rates, buyer interest remains strong, particularly among young families and recreational property enthusiasts.
Navigating through COVID-19
Of course, what has happened is not as important to our customers and clients as what will or might happen as we move forward through the pandemic and the post-pandemic.
Having been in business in Whistler since 1978, we have experienced numerous periods of uncertainty and negativity locally and globally. Since the turn of the century alone, we are 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 reattract people to the area. In the long run, however, we will be just fine, and the future is bright.
In this Market Report Video, our President, Pat Kelly, discusses the numbers and facts for the first quarter of 2020 when it comes to real estate in Whistler and Pemberton, and highlights the challenges and milestones that will come from COVID-19.