Vancouver is no longer Canada's hottest housing market

Attesting to the continued global draw of Canadian property, benchmark prices in the ski town of Whistler have now surpassed those in Vancouver.

Businesses are buying million-dollar properties to house employees as living costs drive out workers. The cost of visiting has also spiralled, with overnight rates during the winter peak topping anywhere else in the nation.

“We think housing is the single most important issue we are facing as a community,” Marc Riddell, a spokesman for Whistler Blackcomb, owned by Vail Resorts Inc. and the area’s biggest employer, told Bloomberg via email.

Housing prices in the resort destination have increased at a noticeably faster clip than in Vancouver and Toronto. Scaled over the past 12 months, Whistler’s benchmark home price has increased by 19.6%, compared to Vancouver’s 16.1% (Toronto actually suffered a 1.5% decline in that time frame).

Over the past 3 years, Whistler’s benchmark prices grew by 78.4%, compared to Vancouver’s 62.3% and Toronto’s 41.5%. Meanwhile, 5-year gains in Whistler home prices stood at 110.2%, compared to 81.1% in Vancouver and 63.7% in Toronto.

Read more: B.C. market sustains sustain upward trend in prices

Last October, the benchmark price of a townhouse in Whistler surpassed $1 million for the first time. Vancouver is a steal in comparison, at only C$835,000. A detached home in Whistler is now $1.67 million, 4% costlier than in Vancouver.

Whistler’s transition from a skiing mecca into a four-season destination for golfers, hikers, and bikers means that the pressure for accommodation from seasonal workers and tourists no longer eases when the snow melts.

With a permanent population of fewer than 12,000 residents, there are more than 1,300 applicants on wait lists to either rent or buy homes at below-market rates in a residents-only pool managed by the Whistler Housing Authority. The agency aims to provide housing for at least 75% of the town’s employees – a target that “will be very challenging to continue to meet,” according to a December assessment.

 

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