Jan 2010 30

Whistling Over the Games Factor

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With the Winter Olympics only days away the jury is still out on the impact the Games will have on host resort property prospects in B.C.  

Optimists in Whistler, who put much faith in free advertising, have crunched a decade of numbers to make the case that the kudos of the Olympics will produce dividends.  

“I still think there will be a good positive side to the Whistler story,” says Rudy Nielsen, president of research firm Landcor Data Corp., who chronicles a doubling of Whistler’s property values over the past decade to support his case.  

In a survey released last week, Landcor reported that between 2000 and 2010, Whistler saw 8,990 property sales among the 13,134 residential properties within the resort.

The average price for a condominium rose 101 per cent over the decade to $380,000 by 2010. Townhouse average values increased 104 per cent to $677,000 over the same period.

But detached homes saw the biggest gain, rising 141 per cent to hit an average of almost $1.4 million in 2010.

However, University of B.C. real estate expert, Tsur Somerville, expects that the gains Whistler is seeing come more from the improved Sea to Sky Highway instead of any additional Olympic exposure.

In a joint study on the effects that staging the Olympics has on property prices in host cities, he claims that being an Olympic host city does not bump property prices up any more than surrounding, non-host locations.

“I’m not saying it’s zero,” says Somerville, but he is skeptical that the Games will give Whistler better exposure to the market of buyers likely to buy ski-resort property than it has already had.

However, for an undeterred Nielsen, a bit of a sales pitch can’t hurt. “I think people will realize that this is a world-class place to be, and not only Whistler but Vancouver and British Columbia,” he says. “B.C. is the greatest place on earth to live and I’m trying to promote it the best I can.”  

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