A low supply and high demand for inventory is one trend that continued to define the Sea to Sky’s real estate markets and drive up property sale prices in 2021.
“The second half of 2020 is when the market changed,” said RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate owner Ann Chiasson.
One catalyst? Buyers looking to make a lifestyle change after the onset of the pandemic, she said. When prices started heating up in Whistler along with demand, people began heading for peripheral communities, Chiasson said.
“People realize the drive was worth it,” she said. “I think people realized Whistler was getting out of control, and so a lot of people turned their attention to Pemberton, and that drove prices up.”
The community about 30 kilometres north of Whistler rang in 2021 with 35 listings, explained Pemberton-based realtor Danielle Menzel, of the Whistler Real Estate Company. “This year we have 10,” she said, adding that most are priced at more than $1.3 million. In January of 2020, meanwhile, Pemberton had 72 active listings.
“This is by far the leanest year I have experienced,” Menzel wrote in an email, adding that very few new listings were added to the roster month over month. “Properties were getting snapped up as fast as they came on.”
While demand for Pemberton properties was already high in 2018 and 2019, Menzel also credited the “dramatic” post-pandemic spike, in part, to ultra-low interest rates and decreased spending in other sectors. “Inventory just simply didn’t keep up. There wasn’t that many more sales last year over the previous year, however the price of properties rose dramatically,” she explained.
Chiasson, meanwhile, struck a more hopeful tone for prospective Whistler buyers. In 2022, “we’re starting to see a little more product come on the market,” she said.
Both realtors agreed that the Sea to Sky corridor remains a largely local market, with only a small percentage of buyers coming from outside the province or from abroad. “There’s very little flipping or speculation going on,” noted Chiasson.
Some buyers are still looking to “live where they play,” following the rise of remote work, said Menzel, while, on the other hand, some sellers are looking to cash out of the hot Sea to Sky market and find more bang for their buck in other pockets of B.C. and Canada.
Another trend Chiasson said she’s noticed in the last year is an increased demand for vacant lots in the region—with buyers choosing to build within their budget—but said even that option is growing increasingly limited, particularly in Whistler.
By the numbers
Statistics provided by RE/MAX Sea to Sky real estate show the 947 property sales completed in Whistler in 2021 amounted to a total dollar value of about $1.496 billion. That surpasses the approximately $1.063 billion in sales in 2020 when 686 properties were sold, and more than doubles the 558 properties that sold for a total of about $695 million in 2019.
According to this data, the average sale price of a chalet, or single-family home, reached just over $4 million in 2021, compared to nearly $3.27million in 2020 and just over $2.86 million in 2019.
The average sale price of a duplex rose to $2.07 million from $1.8 million in 2020, while townhouses sold for an average of $1.59 million in 2021 (up from $1.43 million in 2020). The average sale price of Whistler condos also travelled north, but at a slightly slower rate: to $1.04 million last year, up from $1.02 million the year prior.
The average sale price of a property in Whistler hit $1.55 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 (Q4), down from a high of about $1.85 million in Q3.
The average sale price of vacant land dipped slightly, to about $1.63 million in 2021 from $1.89 million in 2020. With only a limited number of vacant lots for sale in Whistler at any given time, those numbers are easily skewed, Chiasson warned.
By RE/MAX Sea to Sky’s calculation, 95.86 per cent of buyers originated from Canada—the highest proportion in the last nine years.
A few kilometres north on Highway 99, there were 206 properties sold in Pemberton in 2021, compared to 186 the previous year and 137 in 2019, according to the statistics provided.
The average sale price of a chalet came to about $1.36 million in 2021, up from $1.2 million the year before. Pemberton condos sold for an average of $540,000 last year compared to $452,000 in 2020, while the average sale price of a townhouse spiked to $772,000 from $614,000 the year prior. Vacant land also rose slightly, to $474,000 from $426,000.
So what’s in store for 2022?
“Of course I don’t have that elusive crystal ball but prices do appear to be stabilizing slightly,” noted Menzel. “Lack of inventory makes this really hard to predict and that will likely drive prices up a bit more but there is a limit to what people can afford.”
One fact Menzel is sure of is that “this is certainly a sellers’ market, 100 per cent.”
Homeowners thinking of making a move should speak to an agent as soon as possible, she advised, while prospective buyers “who know they want to stay here in the corridor [should] get in at whatever level they can afford.”
Agreed Chiasson, “I don't think Whistler’s going to see a change in its desirability, as an option, and even Pemberton has nowhere to go but up.”