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Olympics not affecting housing market: realtors

Number of listings has been growing this year

The 2010 Olympics aren’t having much impact on the Whistler housing market, according to at least two local realtors.

The reality flies in the face of the widely-held assumption that the Olympic Games will drastically affect housing prices in Whistler. That just isn’t the case, according to Pat Kelly, owner of the Whistler Real Estate Company.

“People have been saying that to me for three years and I have yet to see that happen,” he said. “Most people buying investment in resort properties and recreational properties are not buying it because of a three-week event. They are buying it because of what Whistler offers year after year after year.”

Instead, Kelly said the housing market is more likely to see an impact post-Olympics thanks to increased awareness of the resort.

“If you don’t know about Whistler now, you’re certainly going to know about it in the future,” he said. “It wouldn’t need a lot of additional interest in the area, say 150 new purchasers, to change the dynamic of the marketplace.”

That sentiment was echoed by Michael D’Artois, a realtor with the Whistler branch of RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate.

“It has very little impact,” he said. “The fact that we’re having another event in Whistler, notwithstanding that it’s giving us a wonderful road and we’re doing the Peak to Peak, real estate would have been very popular, subject to the global economic climate, with or without the Olympics.”

D’Artois said 2010 will not raise or reduce housing values in Whistler, but he said that the exposure brought on by the Olympics could have a positive influence on the market once the Games are over.

“Many more people will know about it and choose it as a destination for travel or for living,” he said. “Added to that, the in-migration into Canada and B.C. will spill over into the corridor and there will be some benefit to our community as well.”

As for the current housing scene in Whistler, D’Artois described it as a “buyers’ market,” meaning that there are lots of units available to buy and that well-priced properties are getting a lot of attention from prospective buyers.

“We’re probably adding more supply than absorbing the supply,” he said. “In the single-family homes we probably have 163 today. We have twice the inventory that we started with in January and we probably had 71 house sales as of today.”

Kelly also described Whistler’s current market as a buyers’ market — a fairly normal situation, according to him.

“A buyers’ market means that there isn’t a lot of urgency on the buyer to make a decision,” he said. “The house they look at may very well stay on the market for a longer period of time and… if they’re interested in the house, they’re probably able to write terms and conditions in their contract that are more favourable to them.”

When asked to compare the number of houses on the market against the number being sold, Kelly said the market is weighing in the direction of the former.

“I think there’s an increase in the choices available in the marketplace in the last 12 months,” he said. “The number of listings are growing faster than normal.”