The Whistler Olympic Market

Real Estate Agent with The Linnell Group at The Whistler Real Estate Company Ltd.

I suppose from the outside looking in you’d think that the walls would be falling in on our little resort town in light of the financial crisis and the credit crunch that the U.S. is experiencing. There isn’t much doubt that we have indeed been feeling some of the effects of the slowdown in the U.S economy but all is not lost if you are thinking of buying or selling in Whistler! We have to take a minute and really look at what’s going on here and take a moment to determine what our goals are.

I have always asked my clients what their objectives were for purchasing real estate here in Whistler.

  • Are you looking for a property that is showing excellent rental income?
  • Are you purchasing because the lifestyle is your priority?
  • Are you looking for a long term gain in capital appreciation?

Let’s visit these questions and see how they pertain to today’s market.

Firstly, Whistler or any other major resort market has never based its’ real estate success on being a monthly/yearly revenue generator. Resorts usually generate good gross revenues in their hotel rooms and condo’s but by the time rental management fees and operating expenses are taken off the top there never seems to be enough net revenue to warrant it being a great investment. The exception to that rule right now in Whistler is evident in 3 buildings. The Delta Whistler Village Suites, The Pinnacle International and the Pan Pacific are buildings that are showing about 4% return after expenses (including property taxes).

Since 9-1-1 we have seen a significant change in the attitude that most investors use to have when purchasing here. We have seen more and more people from south of the boarder investing in Whistler because of the lifestyle it has to offer. When discussing their reasons for investing here they repeatedly express their interest in Whistler because it’s a safe place to bring their families and they have come to understand that life is not a dress rehearsal, this is the real thing and they are going to enjoy it. People like this will invest in properties here and not place rental income or net revenues anywhere near the top of their priority list.

In most cases we see people who are looking for a combination of both. They would like to see a return on their investment by way of some net income but are banking on the fact that over time they will experience an increase in the value of their property and will reap the rewards of a good capital gain.


My crystal ball is in the shop for regular maintenance but if I had to give an opinion based on my years of experience here I would have to say that I have never seen a better time to buy real estate here in Whistler. It’s bee six years since property prices escalated so high so quickly and each year they have settled down to a point where we are seeing good value in the market once again. For those investors who have cash and who are able to move on a property when you see excellent value, there are great opportunities out there for you.  If you are looking in the lower end of the price scale and the phase 2 hotel/condo properties are what you can afford then I am highly recommending you look at the Delta Whistler Village Suites. Let’s take a look at a few of the things that might have a positive influence on property values over the next little while.

  • The upcoming Winter Olympic Games
  • The Peak To Peak Gondola
  • The new Nordic Center
  • 9 World Cup events
  • The new Symphony chair

As a result of these things happening there will be millions of people focused on Whistler leading up to and well after the Olympic Games and we can only see the demand for property in Whistler rising to a level that will surely influence the prices upward.


One of the most frequently asked questions that I have received over the years is “why are they selling?” The people who own property in Whistler come from all over the world and there is always a myriad of answers to that question at any given time. We see sellers who have owned here for many years who just feel it’s time for them to leave this market and make their money work for them in a different area of their life. We see sellers who purchased here when the currency exchange was heavily in their favor and now they can sell and still see a healthy profit. There are many reasons people have for selling but that really isn’t the issue. The question should be “is this property showing me good value and the potential to increase in value and does it fit into my plan?”

If you are selling or thinking of selling your property in Whistler be aware that if you want your property to sell it must show good value right from the first day it’s exposed to the market. In the old days we would see a property that is worth $500,000 be offered for sale for $625,000 in hopes that someone would come along and like it enough to buy it for an inflated price.

That is simply not the case anymore if you want your property to actually be sold. With the internet being so prevalent I see buyers being more knowledgeable about the Whistler market than some realtors. Even in this slower market I have just experienced a couple of properties where we priced it right and within 24 hours we had more than one offer. If you are a seller and want results you have to be open to speaking to a realtor who will give you the straight goods and one who will be able to show you why your property is worth what they are saying. You will not be doing yourself any favors if you price your property too high just to see if someone will buy it. It is just not happening that way anymore. Show excellent value, make it presentable and always available to show and it will sell!!

Like any market, the real estate market in Whistler is cyclical. We’ll see good times and we’ll see slow times just like anywhere else. The point is that you must enjoy Whistler all the time. If you want to talk about the real estate market here in Whistler please give me a call and I would be happy to discuss my thoughts and the state of the market with you.

Comments (4)

Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Good post -- you're a very clear communicator.     What you say could also apply to my secondary home/discretionary marketplace (Salt Spring Island & the Southern Gulf Islands), although to a more limited degree.    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Dec 07, 2008 03:45 AM
Dean Linnell
The Linnell Group at The Whistler Real Estate Company Ltd. - Whistler, BC

Thanks Li - I've seen some of your advertising in Homes & Land. You're right - Whistler is a very different market but in many ways it's the same as any other second home markets like Salt Spring or any residential market elsewhere for that matter. Always good to keep that balance in mind during challenging times. 

Dec 07, 2008 03:49 AM
Andrew Lowell
Andrew Lowell Broker - Granite Bay, CA
Consulting Broker for 32 years


That was a very good blog message.  very informative.  Thanks for participating in active rain.

Make it a great and prosperous week.  And an awesome 2009

Kind regards,

Andrew Lowell

Dec 07, 2008 03:51 AM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media

Hi Dean~ You have a very cool target market, and one that will be so for quite a while. It will be nice to see what the Olympics brings to Whistler..I need to visit one day.

BTW, GREAT post!

Dec 07, 2008 09:49 AM