We’ve talked with dozens of people interested in buying property in Whistler, BC. It is, after all, one of the most beautiful towns to live in Canada. Every year millions of visitors travel from around the world to ski, snowboard, and mountain bike down the world-class trails Whistler has to offer.
Looking To Purchase Property In Whistler?
In 2010 Whistler hosted the Winter Olympics and it elevated the ski-town into a global hotspot for international travel. While skiing is certainly a large portion of the economic activity in town, the economy has diversified into a four-season destination. Mountain biking and other summer activities have grown exponentially in the last several years.
Proximity To Vancouver
Whistler’s proximity to Vancouver, BC has positioned itself to be the perfect getaway for Vancouvities looking to escape the city-life. Having such easy access to and from one of Canada’s most prosperous cities has provided a steady flow of visitors in the shoulder season’s (May to June and October to November). Many of the hotels and top activity providers partnered to form Tourism Whistler, which offers BC locals discount pricing during the shoulder seasons.
What Are Phase I & Phase II Properties?
If you’re considering buying property in Whistler you need to understand the building covenants that will have a direct effect on the properties usage.
What Is Phase I?
There is no question that the most desirable zoning type is Phase I. These buildings offer the most flexible ownership style. If you’re intending on personally using your property frequently, or renting your property on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, then you will want to heavily consider a Phase I building.
Most flexible ownership structure
Unlimited personal usage
Can be rented on platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, etc
You have control over the vacation rental management company
Examples of Phase I Buildings in Whistler
Deer Lodge, Bear Lodge, & Eagle Lodge
What Is Phase II?
Buildings with a Phase II zoning classification are typically reserved for hotel accommodations. These properties have strict owner usage 28 days in the summer, and 28 days in the winter). Financing these properties can be very complicated as they often require 35% down, and many lenders simply won’t provide the financing.
Limited owner usage
Controlled and rented by hotel management with steep fees
Difficult to secure affordable financing
Great option for a buyer looking for a completely hands-off experience
Examples of Phase II Buildings in Whistler
Delta Whistler Village Suites
The Westin Hotel
Pan Pacific Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel
What Are The Best Neighbourhoods in Whistler?
Whistler Village is the heart of the town and centre of the action. It is the best neighbourhood for purchasing condos or townhomes.
In Whistler Village you will find:
Gondolas up both Whistler and Blackcomb.
Hundreds of restaurants, pubs, clubs, and coffee shops including Araxi, The Brewhouse, Garfinikel’s, and Mount Currie Coffeen, to name a few.
An abundance of shopping options including Lululemon, Gap, and Lush.
Community amenities such as the Olympic Stadium, Audain Art Museum, and Whistler Conference Centre.
Creekside is the original Whistler neighbourhood dating back to 1966, with the launch of the ski resort. The neighbourhood has many detached, condo, and townhome options.
In Creekside you will find:
A gondola that will take you up to the bottom of Big Red chairlift on Whistler mountain.
Restaurants, bars, and coffee shops including Creekbread, Dusty's Bar, and Southside Diner.
Community amenities such as Creekside Market and Husky.
Swimming and trails at Nita Lake.
Blackcomb was originally a competitive mountain to Whistler in its early days; complete with a community village. Today Blackcomb still remains somewhat disconnected to neighbouring Whistler Village separated by Fitzsimmons Creek and the day lots.
In Blackcomb you will find:
A gondola that will take you to Rendezvous Lodge and the Peak to Peak on Blackcomb Mountain.
Restaurants including Portebello, The Fitzsimmons Pub, and Handlebar.
Amazing attractions such as the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and the Fairmont Golf Club.
Cheakamus & Function Junction
Cheakamus is a young neighbourhood, built for the housing of Olympic athletes and staff for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Function Junction on the other hand, is a revitalized and electric area. Function is an industrial area but in recent years has become a truly unique, multi-faceted, community.
In Cheakamus & Function Junction you will find:
Restaurants including The Green Moustache, Coast Mountain Brewing, and Functional Pie Pizzeria.
Community amenities such as the Home Hardware, The Re-build-it Centre, and Bayly Park.
Must see attractions such as the Train Wreck, Olympic Athlete Centre, and Interpretive Forest.
Common Costs of Homeownership in Whistler, BC
When purchasing any property, most buyers need to secure financing, also known as a “mortgage”. A mortgage is a form of debt provider by your lender that you pay off each month over 20 - 30 years. It is common for mortgages to be the largest expense when buying a property in Whistler.
Property Transfer Tax
The BC government charges a property transfer tax to help cover the administrative costs required to properly transfer the title of your newly acquired property.
1% on the first $200,000
2% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $200,000 and up to and including $2,000,000, and
3% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $2,000,000.
Note: If you’re a first-time-home-buyer you may be eligible for exemption of the Property Transfer Tax, speak with your real estate agent, lawyer, or accountant to see if you’re eligible.
Goods & Services Tax (GST)
GST is a 5% sales tax that is applied to new construction properties, or on the resale of properties in Whistler that were run as a vacation rental. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to defer the sales tax so consult with your real estate agent, lawyer, and accountant.
If you’re buying an apartment or townhouse you will likely be forced to pay strata fees. These fees vary greatly depending on the buildings history of maintenance, but it is not unusual for monthly fees to range between $450 - $900+.
While strata fees may seem like a money grab, it is often a very beneficial way for homeowners to ensure their property is being maintained and looked after by a professional strata management company.
Typical strata fees range between $450 - $900+ per month
Typically includes landscaping, building repairs, hot tub maintenance, snow removal, etc.
Provides out-of-town homeowners peace of mind
Every property in Whistler is subject to property taxes which are assessed based on the market value of your property. Property taxes are used to enhance, improve, and sustain the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW). It’s not unusual for properties to pay between $2,500 - $20,000+ per year in property taxes.
An annual tax imposed by RMOW
Covers the cost of infrastructure improvements, public school funding, policing and more
Whether you plan on renting the property as a vacation rental or as a long-term rental it is very important you have adequate insurance coverage to protect you from any unforeseen issues. Property insurance is an annual cost all homeowners need to account for before buying a property in Whistler.
How Much Do Properties In Whistler Cost?
There is no doubt that buying property in Whistler, BC is costly. The ski-town has an international reputation and the real estate is sought after by millions of people worldwide. The average numbers presented below are simply an average. There are many wonderful properties well-below these prices and far-exceeding these averages.
Average Condominium: $850,000 - $950,000
Average Townhouse:$1,100,000 - $1,200,000
Average Detached Home:$2,900,000 - $3,495,000
Estimated Long-Term Rental Revenue Potential
With approximately 12,000 locals living and working in Whistler there is plenty of demand for affordable housing. Historically there has been a lack of rental housing for the locals and this has resulted in rising rental rates as locals are willing to pay more and more for suitable long-term housing.
Average Condominium: $1,500 - $2,500 per month
Average Townhouse:$3,500 - $5,000 per month
Average Detached Home:$5,000 - $10,000+ per month
Note: If you’re planning on renting your property on a long-term basis you should seriously consider hiring a property management company to screen tenants, maintain the property and ensure you’re following the BC tenancy act. Finding good tenants in Whistler can be very difficult and if done incorrectly can result in serious legal and financial losses.
Estimated Vacation Rental Revenue Potential
Millions of visitors every year are seeking vacation rental accommodation in Whistler. As a result of heavy visitor demand you can rent your property through a vacation rental management company and earn strong rental revenue, while also having the flexibility of using it yourself when you need a cheap getaway.
Average Apartment: $40,000 - $55,000 per year
Average Townhouse:$50,000 - $65,000 per year
Average Detached Home:$70,000 - $99,000+ per year
How Much Is Property Management In Whistler?
Long-Term Property Management
Typically long-term rental management companies are charging the homeowner’s fees of 5 - 15% of total monthly revenue. In addition to that they often charge for additional services like tenant screening, annual maintenance, and more.
Vacation Rental Management
Most people that are interested in buying in Whistler are doing so with the intention of hiring a vacation rental management company to handle guest interaction, bookings, and cleanings. Historically, vacation rental management companies were charging the homeowners anywhere from 40 - 50% commission on all bookings (Booo!). These fees were extremely high, and it often resulted in low financial performance for the homeowner.
More recently, vacation rental management companies like Lifty Life Hospitality have been charging 25 - 35%. These lower fees are made possible because we market and advertise properties on booking platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway.
Conventional, “old-school”, vacation rental management companies charge 40 - 50% of total bookings.
Reach out to our team at Lifty Life Hospitality and we would be happy to put you in contact with our companies list of trusted real estate agents, lawyers, and local contacts. Fill out our contact form, or call us directly!
Keiran Griffiths is the Destination & Guest Specialist for Lifty Life Hospitality. He has in-depth knowledge of the hospitality, travel and digital marketing space. His understanding of customer service tactics is unparalleled.