To say that 2021 was a busy year would be an understatement! Sales activity started out very strong, with the first three months of the year seeing 110 unit sales per month. The rest of the year continued at a steady strong pace – about 70 units per month – only slowing slightly during the Christmas season.
The market broke records in terms of sales volume, exceeding one and a half-billion dollars in sales – an increase of 35% over 2020, which was a record-breaking year in itself.
The increase in demand for properties in Whistler was due to a result of historically low-interest rates and a desire to move to and/or invest in smaller centers, which are being seen as safe havens during the pandemic.
While the buyers of Whistler properties have historically been Canadians (primarily from the Lower Mainland), there is also typically a strong foreign buyer component (comprising of roughly 20-25%). In 2021 however, the market differed in terms of where the buyers came from, with a shift away from foreign investment, with 95% of the buyers this year coming from Canada.
As with all other markets in B.C., Canada, and North America, demand exceeded supply in all segments of the market. The result of which was an increase in prices across all categories as compared to 2020. By the end of 2021, the supply in the Whistler market reached an all-time low.
The strength in the market came from all sectors of the housing mix. The single family and townhouse markets continued to see strong sales over 2020, due to pandemic demands for non-communal ownership. The luxury component of the Whistler market, already strong, showed no signs of weakening with a record-breaking 68 sales over $4,000,000 and with a top reported sale of $17,000,000.
The market for vacant land in Whistler was also very strong compared to previous years, primarily due to two project sales in the valley. The first is Wedgewood, which has been selling new phases north of Whistler, and the second is RiverRun, a project in Cheakamus that was launched in Autumn, and at the end of December, only had two lots remaining.
The condo market had weakened in 2020, but recovered in 2021 as the Hotels (Phase 2 – Condo Hotels) saw strong occupancy through the summer and into the winter. As the tourism market returned to Whistler, the sales of these types of condominiums returned to more normal levels.
As of the end of December, the average transaction value for the Whistler marketplace was $1,522,000 in 2021.
Currently the average transaction value of a single family home is $4,139,555 (median of $3,300,000); townhouses are averaging $1,586,389 (median of $1,303,000;) and condominiums are averaging a sales value of $852,699 (median of $770,000).
Looking Ahead at 2022
As we move into 2022, the hope is for the pandemic to finally come to some sort of resolution. This will hopefully result in the relaxation of travel restrictions and lessen travel hesitation and would add stability back to the Whistler tourism market, which in turn will add more strength and stability to the real estate market.
The biggest challenge in 2022 will be inventory. We began 2021 with what we considered low standing inventory and moved to half that amount (or very low inventory) by the end of the year. The Whistler marketplace has no new developments on the horizon to help alleviate this challenge for 2022. Expected activity levels due to inventory shortage will thus be less than 2021, but prices in all categories should continue to increase due to the supply shortage.
The unpredictability of the past two years has shown that buyers and visitors view Whistler as a safe place to both visit and invest in. The fundamental framework of the Whistler marketplace is very favourable to visitors and investors. Through the challenges of the past year and the potential challenges we may continue to face, the Canadian and foreign visitors and investors have continued to come to Whistler and we don’t expect that to change in 2022.
It has never been more important to stay up to date with what is happening in the world as well as in the real estate marketplace. It is especially important to be aware of the statistics that are directly applicable to your specific property.