Whistler Real Estate bouncing back 

Volume of sales up year over year, Market looking up for 2012

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The Olympic hangover seems to be in remission, at least in Whistler's real estate market. The Real Estate Association (REA) of Whistler reports sales up by 15 per cent over 2010.

"It's better than expected," said Rob Palm, President of the Real Estate Association of Whistler.

"We're coming out of it much stronger and our number of listings are down about 10 per cent," he said.

The market has continued to improve from the low point in 2009, due to high number of competitively priced homes being sold.

"The affordability of it is what is really causing this, whether it's interest rates, currency or pricing adjusting down to a level where the buyers are thinking it's the right time to make it work," said Palm.

"I think the reality for a lot of people in B.C. is that they've done well over the last few years and they're now looking at Whistler as an opportunity because of the equity they've gained in their businesses or homes."

Roughly 65 to 70 per cent of all home purchases are being made by residents of the Lower Mainland, as high as 85 per cent on the more expensive homes in the $1.5 to $2 million range. The remaining buyers are international from countries such as the U.S.A, U.K., Hongkong, Singapore and Australia. The American market has remained steady overall, but many higher-end homeowners are choosing to sell at significantly reduced prices.

"Because of their exchange rate when they purchased they can afford to sell for a lot less than they paid for," said Maggie Thornhill from the Thornhill Real Estate Group.

"That's one of the reasons we are seeing some very inexpensive pricing, back to where it was in 2000. There's some remarkable deals out there, how long it will last for, we don't know."

One of tools the REA is using to sustain the current momentum of sales is the new Whistler Listing System, which is being publicly hosted on whistlerlistings.com. For the first time, prospective homebuyers can search every property listing in Whistler and Pemberton on a single, central database. After feedback from consumers, the REA pooled its resources to get all Whistler real estate listings on the same website and be able to search for specific zonings, price ranges and locations.

"It was really hard for our consumers to search for properties specific to Whistler before," said Palm.

"Now we have a streamlined, concise set of listings for Whistler, Pemberton, Darcy and up to Birken, all in one place," he said.

The site has been receiving positive feedback and there are plans to further develop it as well as updating the app for iPhone and iPad. The realtors themselves are also able to stay connected by monitoring what is happening in the market that week, what homes are selling and for how much.

"It's been a big collaboration between all the agents and the offices and its awesome to have that level of cooperation between everybody," said Palm.

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