Alpine, Emerald properties soar in 2003 assessment 

Whistler increases outdistance the rest of the province, again

Property prices in the resort have jumped again this year according to the 2003 property assessments and this time it’s the older neighbourhoods around town leading the upward trend.

Although all properties increased in value this year, there was a dramatic rise in areas like Alpine Meadows, where properties went up on average about 60 per cent, and Emerald Estates, where properties went up almost 50 per cent in value.

"The largest increase on land and properties in particular are the properties that are under $1-million and we’re talking areas like Alpine Meadows, Emerald Estates, Bayshores – the older subdivisions," said David Highfield, area assessor with B.C. Assessment.

Highfield would not give an overall average of the increase in Whistler because there are such significant differences between different neighbourhoods in the community, but a general estimate would put the overall increase around 30 per cent. Last year the increases ranged from 9 to 20 per cent,

A home in Alpine that was worth $445,900 in last year’s assessment is now valued at $714,900 in the 2003 assessment. Likewise, a home in Emerald Estates valued at $471,000 one year ago, is now valued at $700,000.

While higher-end neighbourhoods like Blueberry Hill and Horstman Estates had significant increases in properties values too (on average 19 and 16 per cent respectively), they were nowhere near the huge rise in prices in other parts of town.

"Probably the most significant thing that’s happened in Whistler is it’s now virtually impossible to find a piece of land for less than $550,000-$600,000 and that’s very new this year," said Highfield.

The president of the Whistler Real Estate Company was not surprised about the increase in assessments, particularly with the largest increases coming from areas like Alpine and Emerald.

"There’s always more buyers at the lower end of the pricing pyramid," said Pat Kelly.

"There’s just less people that can afford $2 or $3 million homes so now they can afford $1 million homes.

"Where the market is strong is between $600,000 and $1.5 million."

At the same time Kelly pointed out that there are currently only five lots for sale under $1 million.

"So that’s what’s really pushing it," he said.

"All markets depend on supply and demand, it’s a fairly basic economic rule and if demand is steady or increasing and supply is shrinking prices go up, and if you increase supply and demand is falling, prices go down.

"We have in our wisdom made it very simple for prices to go up very quickly because we don’t do anything to temper the demand side of the equation."

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