2017: Whistler Real Estate Trends to Watch

We’re just a few days away from the start of another new year, which means that it’s time to pull out the crystal ball and make some predictions for the Whistler real estate market in 2017.

The past year was one for the books: low inventory paired with high demand meant that the Whistler real estate market was as hot as ever. Will the market continue its rise into 2017? Here’s what we could be in for.


Increasing Mortgage Rates

After a few years of extremely low mortgage rates, we are starting to see rates creep back up, slowly but surely.

In October, a new stress test was implemented to ensure that Canadians with mortgages would be able to accommodate an eventual bump in interest rates by ensuring that mortgage applicants for insured loans are able to meet the posted standard five-year rate, which is often higher than the mortgage rates borrowers are actually able to receive. This implies that there will be fewer insured mortgages originating in 2017.

In the past couple of months, some banks have already announced raises in mortgage rates (including TD Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada). Those that haven’t already followed suit are likely to do so in the new year, and we could see additional modest rate increases throughout the year.

While it will generally be more difficult for borrowers requiring insured mortgages to obtain financing, there is some good news for first-time buyers in BC: the Province of BC recently announced its Home Owners Mortgage Equity Partnership program, which matches the borrower’s down payment (up to a maximum of 5% for a property that sells at or below $750,000) with a loan that is payment- and interest-free for the first five years. Read more about the HOME partnership program here, including details on qualification restrictions.

AirBnB – Beware

If your Whistler property is not a designated Phase I property that permits short-term rentals, you might want to reconsider listing it on AirBnB, VRBO, Allura Direct, or any other short-term rental site. Whistler’s long-term housing market is experiencing a serious crunch, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for long-term renters to secure housing. In turn, businesses are having difficulty filling positions. The result: the municipality is looking into putting an end to illegal short-term rentals of properties that are not permitted to do so.

Adjustments to the Rental Market

As noted above, the rental market was a topic that dominated headlines in 2016 here in Whistler. The problem is still far from resolved, although the Mayor’s Task Force on Resident Housing is working hard on coming up with viable solutions. For example, the recently announced Home Run project will attempt to match businesses with long-term rental opportunities for local workers, which should help alleviate some of the labour issues experienced in 2016.

The Whistler Housing Authority also has a few projects in the work, which should increase the pool for rental properties – but will it be enough? The rental market will most likely improve in 2017, but it will take more than a year to truly resolve the issue.

More Renovations

Fewer and fewer vacant lots are available in Whistler – only 16 are currently listed for sale, and 2016 saw the most number of land sales (54) in at least the past 10 years – so those looking to build their dream Whistler property are going to have to think renovations. From simple updates to completely gutting a home, contractors around town are sure to be busy as buyers seek to transform older, dated properties into the house they’ve always wanted.

The Rise of the Sea to Sky

Whistler wasn’t the only community in the Sea to Sky experiencing some serious real estate activity this year. The Squamish market is booming, with plenty of new projects underway. Pemberton has also seen a notable increase in demand, as housing there is quite competitively priced relative to Whistler. Pinecrest and Black Tusk, two small communities just south of Whistler, are seeing higher selling prices as buyers are now considering properties outside of the town core, due to a lack of inventory. These communities will surely continue to receive attention into 2017.

On that note, have a wonderful new year! Please contact me if you’d like me to help you achieve your 2017 Whistler property goals, whatever they may be.