Real estate markets in the first quarter of 2020 in Whistler and Pemberton followed trends experienced throughout southwestern BC with a strong and improving marketplace during January and February, followed by a significant slow down in March as result of a global and local shutdown of most parts of the economy and society due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers for the quarter are as follows; in Whistler, 110 new firm transactions were reported as compared to 151 in the previous quarter and 131 for the same quarter in 2019. This is largely a result of a 50% drop in activity during the month of March as compared to the previous month or March 2019.
Despite these lower levels of activity, values either remained steady or increased slightly. The overall average transaction value in the first quarter was $1,482,000 as compared to $1,247,000 at the end of 2019. Dollar per square foot sales value has also remained steady and continues to range between $1,000 and $1,200 a square foot. The luxury market (over 3 million) stayed very consistent compared to a year ago with 5 sales over $6,000,000 reported. This continues to show confidence in Whistler in the long term from high net worth individuals.
PEMBERTON REAL ESTATE MARKET
The Pemberton Marketplace also showed a significant drop in activity. but as a small marketplace with a very limited supply of opportunity, this marketplace typically will show more variability in activity quarter to quarter. Overall sales activity dropped approximately 35% as compared to the previous quarter and by 50% as compared to the same quarter of 2019. Like Whistler, however, values remained steady and consistent with those reported at the end of 2019. With low-interest rates, buyer interest remains strong, particularly amongst young families and recreational property enthusiasts.
NAVIGATING THROUGH COVID-19
Of course, what has happened is not as important to our customers and clients as what will or might happen as we move forward through the pandemic and the post-pandemic.
Having been in business in Whistler since 1978, we have experienced numerous periods of uncertainty and negativity locally and globally. Since the turn of the century alone, we are now experiencing our third unexpected event that will impact both our national and local economies. Our experience has been that no matter what the short-term challenges are, we have seen that both Whistler and Pemberton bounce back with resilience. In the case of real estate, values and demand for real estate in the area increase.
There are many reasons for this; our beautiful natural setting, a planning framework and geography that limits supply, a full range of services and recreational opportunities for residents and tourists, and a young educated entrepreneurial business community that has embraced the vision of being North American’s number one ski resort. Add in the success B.C. is having to attract people and capital investment, its performance in the current scenario regarding health and safety, customers becoming more comfortable with remote work, historically low-interest rates for the foreseeable future exchange rate for foreign buyers, and the desirability of real assets in turbulent times, and we believe Whistler and Pemberton will continue to be a desirable place to own real estate in the long run.
That is not to say that we will not face some adversity and challenges in the coming months. We expect the number of sales transactions to be below historical levels until the fourth quarter of 2020 and that buyers will be looking for value which will lead to downward price pressure on average sales value in some segments of the market.
It may be some time before we again experience the robust tourism numbers of 2017-2019. There is little question that there will be a reset as we reestablish and reattract people to the area. In the long run, however, we will be just fine, and the future is bright.
WATCH MARKET REPORT
LOCAL AGENTS CAN HELP
Now more than ever it is important to speak to your Whistler Real Estate advisor to help you navigate through our specialized and dynamic marketplace as we work through the coming months.
There is always a real estate market happening and there will always be buyers and sellers looking to achieve their real estate goals. Our full time, professional, local advisors are here to assist you in achieving your real estate objectives. Although our office is currently closed to public access, we are available by phone and by email.