Looking to the 2010 Olympics: Buying a Condo in Whistler

Winter in Whistler

Winter in Whistler

We spent last weekend in Whistler, the future site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. And, despite ugly weather, and a tough slog of a running race around the peak of Whistler Mountain, we found ourselves once again longing for a place to call our own nestled amongst the mountains, the lake and the village.

Before the Start of the 5 Peaks Race in Whistler

Before the Start of the 5 Peaks Race in Whistler

Whistler has a magical feeling for us. We got married there because of it’s magic. It’s a place where you feel yourself relaxing just being there, and yet you feel energized too! It’s a place that is as gorgeous in the winter as it is in the summer, with plenty to do and see no matter what the time of year.

So – what does it take to own a place in this future Olympic host city? And does it make sense from a real estate investing perspective to put your money into a condo in Whistler?

We strolled into the sales office of a new high-end development in Whistler Village and met an agent named Susie Franks who was kind enough to spend an hour with us. Susie gave us the lowdown on buying property in Whistler.

Here are some highlights of what we learned about buying a condo in Whistler:

  • You are not going to get rich from owning a condo in Whistler. Buying in Whistler is more of a lifestyle investment than a money maker. If you buy right, it’s a subsidized way of being able to spend time at a place you call your own in an amazing resort destination. And, over time, I am sure you will see some nice capital appreciation. (Dave is going to do some analysis on this and put it in an upcoming Rev N You with Real Estate article)
  • Around Whistler Village and Blackcomb, properties are zoned Phase 1 or Phase 2. Phase 1 essentially means that the owner has unlimited use of the property, but when it’s not in use by the owner, it must be rented out for nightly rentals. Phase 2 means that the owner can only use the property for 4 weeks in the winter and 4 weeks in the summer. The rest of the time it must be part of the nightly rental pool. Phase 2 buildings are mostly the hotels (Delta, Westin, Four Seasons, etc. and
    Kokanee Crankworx in Whistler Village (2007)

    Kokanee Crankworx in Whistler Village (2007)

    are right in Whistler Village). We focused most of our attention on Phase 1’s because we want a townhome more than a condo unit in a large building, and the maintenance fees on the Phase 2 properties are very high because the units are maintained by the hotel company.

  • Expect to pay 40% for a Property Manager. There are plenty of companies to choose from to do your property management. The property management fee covers the advertising, renting, cleaning and reporting on the revenue/expenses of the property in most cases. You, as an owner, will pay cleaning charges when you use the property yourself but otherwise it’s all included.
  • Prices are coming down – will they go up again before the Olympics? I think the fear that they will drop a lot after the Olympics weighs heavily on any investors mind so it’s quite possible we won’t see another lift. But, who knows? My crystal ball is broken.

If you want to learn more about buying in Whistler, you can sign up for our free monthly newsletter to see what Dave comes up with when he does analysis for our future purchase. Or, you can contact Susie. She was incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and pressure-free!! She will be our first call when we’re ready to get serious about buying a condo in Whistler.



Filed under Condo in Whistler, investing, real estate

8 responses to “Looking to the 2010 Olympics: Buying a Condo in Whistler

  1. Good information, but I will not be looking to buy in Whistler. Too much snow for a non-skiier!

  2. Thanks for the info. And it’s so true, many buy here for the lifestyle not necessarily to flip and make a quick buck.

    We have driven many clients, a lot from Asia, that just come once a year for a week…otherwise their place is managed by a property manager.

    maybe in the next few months might be the best time to buy as prices continue to come down.

  3. Just a quick note of clarification from Susie (thanks again Susie!):
    I want to clarify Phase 1 – you don’t have to rent if when you’re not using it. The only issue is if it has been in an established rental program – you need to have it available for rent when you’re not using it. If you buy a Phase 1 property that has never been rented, therefore classified as residential – you can do some rental (under 50% of the year) and not worry about GST. However, it’s very important that you verify this with your accountant!

  4. @annesoceanfront: thanks for stopping in – you can just visit us at our place when we get one 🙂

    @Whistler Limousine: good point – many of the owners of Whistler accommodations don’t even live in North America which would explain a lot of the revenue sheets we saw where the owners didn’t even use the place for a week. To me, for it to be worthwhile buying a place in Whistler, you would need to use it at least a few weeks a year.

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