Toronto positioned for greatest gains, Vancouver expected to normalize, healthy gains are forecast in Montreal, and cautious optimism is found in Calgary.
A strong Canadian economy, changing lifestyle trends amongst baby boomers, a low Canadian dollar and rising consumer confidence are factors propelling resurging activity in Canada’s top-tier ski real estate markets leading into the upcoming ski season, according to a report released today by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
Whistler, Sun Peaks, Canmore, Blue Mountain, and Mont-Tremblant are amongst Canada’s leading ski resort markets poised to hit new elevations in demand, pricing and sales.
“Many Canadian ski markets took over half a decade to recover from the impact of the 2008-2009 Great Recession,” says Brad Henderson, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “Recovery has climbed a gradual slope over recent years; in 2017, we have seen a sharp rise in consumer demand and promising market conditions. Our forecast is for this ski season to be one of the strongest in recent years for top-tier ski real estate.”
Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Top-Tier Ski Real Estate Report: 2017 Highlights revealed the following trends
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Dwindling inventory, strong economic fundamentals in Greater Vancouver and across B.C., resurging consumer confidence, and a low Canadian dollar have fostered a strengthening sellers’ market in Whistler. The average sale price in Whistler for all properties has jumped to $1.09 million this year from $877,488 in 2016, and multiple offers and bidding wars are common in the market. In spite of soaring demand, top-tier real estate sales have remained relatively stable due to limited inventory. Between January 1 and October 31 this year, 190 properties sold between $500,000 and $1 million, down 15 percent from 224 properties sold in the same time period last year. 216 units sold over $1 million in the first 10 months of 2017, down a nominal 4 percent from the 225 units sold over the same months in 2016.
While Whistler is an international destination as the largest ski area in North America, buyers remain primarily from the Lower Mainland. Strong property values in Greater Vancouver have incited more homeowners to take advantage of the increased value of their residences to buy recreational property. Whistler has benefitted from this trend, as well as from an inflow of urban baby boomers that are retiring or buying vacation properties in the area.
SUN PEAKS, BRITISH COLUMBIA
In-migration, greater awareness of Sun Peaks as a ski and four-season destination, and limited housing supply have placed an upward pressure on prices in Sun Peaks’ strengthening real estate market. Listings that are ski-in/ski-out, tourist accommodation-zoned and priced between $200,000 and $700,000 are likely to sell within the first week and receive multiple offers above the asking price.
Top-tier sales have also strengthened in 2017. Between January 1 and October 31, 45 properties sold between $500,000 and $1 million, up 67 percent compared to 27 properties sold during the same period a year ago. There have been two sales over $1 million during this period compared with four over the same months in 2016, reflecting the fact that luxury properties on the market tend to have lengthy, often years-long sales cycles.
While Sun Peaks, the second largest ski area in Canada, draws international visitors, demand for its real estate is largely from within British Columbia. Since it became a resort municipality in 2010, improvements to local amenities have attracted new permanent residents; in addition to active retirees, the area is seeing an influx of young families drawn by the comparatively affordable cost of living and lifestyle.
Demand for conventional and top-tier real estate has strengthened in Canmore/Bow Valley, lifting sales, prices and bidding wars in a region that is a key gateway to skiing the Canadian Rockies. In the first 10 months of 2017, there were 216 properties sold between $500,000 and $1 million, up four percent from the 208 units sold during the same period in 2016. 67 properties sold over $1 million between January and October 31, up 20 percent from the 56 units sold in the same period in 2016. The increase in properties selling in the top-tier market segment lifted the average sale price from $655,159 in 2016 to $732,413 this year.
Demand for Canmore real estate is primarily from Alberta: the immediate local market and from the Edmonton-Calgary corridor, where baby boomers have emerged as a dominant buyer demographic. Many buyers, particularly those from Calgary, have sold their city residence and are moving to Canmore for the lifestyle. The weak Canadian dollar has also made Canmore appealing to Albertans who may have traditionally purchased vacation properties in California or Arizona, but are now seeking alternatives.
With the cautious emergence of the Alberta economy from recession, as well as favourable demographic trends, strengthening real estate activity is predicted for Canmore over the upcoming season.
BLUE MOUNTAIN, ONTARIO
A strong Greater Toronto Area (GTA) economy, favourable demographic trends and consumer optimism following the introduction of new ownership to Blue Mountain Ski Resort have resulted in strong year-to-date market performance in Blue Mountain, the third most popular ski resort in Canada after Whistler Blackcomb and Mont-Tremblant. The region is positioned to see significant gains in luxury real estate in the coming ski season.
Top-tier real estate sales surged in the first ten months of 2017: 111 properties sold between $500,000 to $1 million, up 23 percent from the 90 properties sold the same period a year ago. Luxury sales over $1 million saw 127 percent gains to 50 properties sold, compared to 22 properties sold over $1 million over the same period in 2016. Sales in the upper end of the luxury market also spiked: in the history of the area, there have been 11 properties sold for over $3 million and four of these sold in 2017 alone.
Given record high property values in the GTA, Blue Mountain is seeing rising demand from urban baby boomers as well as some younger professionals who are capitalizing on the equity growth in their GTA homes and relocating or buying a second recreational property in the area.
For the first time in close to a decade, housing supply in Mont-Tremblant, the number one ski resort in eastern North America, has eased while overall demand for conventional and top-tier real estate is on the rise. With a strong economy forecast for Quebec and diversifying consumer demand, sales and housing prices are expected to gain additional traction this ski season.
Buyers from the Montreal and Ottawa-Gatineau regions remain the predominant real estate purchasers, however, a low Canadian dollar and broader national and international awareness of the area have resulted in rising interest and sales to buyers from across Canada, Europe, China, as well as nearby U.S. cities such as New York and Boston.
In the first ten months of 2017, residential sales across all prices increased to 347 units sold, up from 272 units sold in the first ten months of 2016. Top-tier sales activity remained stable: fromJanuary 1 to October 31, 28 properties sold between $500,000 to $1 million, one more unit than the same period a year ago; 12 units sold over $1 million, compared to 13 units over the same period in 2016.
Download the 2017 Top-Tier Ski Real Estate Report (released November 2017)
Disclaimer* The information contained in this report references market data from MLS boards across Canada. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada cautions that MLS market data can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in widely divergent neighborhoods or account for price differentials within local markets. This report is published for general information only and not to be relied upon in any way. Although high standards have been used in the preparation of the information and analysis presented in this report, no responsibility or liability whatsoever can be accepted by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada or Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates for any loss or damage resultant from any use of, reliance on, or reference to the contents of this document.