Real estate sales activity during the first six months of 2021 remained consistent with that experienced in the prior six-month period (the second half of 2020). The total number of sales transactions per month continued to exceed longer-term trends, however, the pace of sales slowed as June 30th approached. This is due to a historically low number of active listings because of recent demand, the resulting lack of choice available, and perceived value for money from current buyers.
Strong interest in Whistler properties has created pent-up demand and is mostly experienced in family-style housing and properties offering opportunities for rental. This pent-up demand continues to support valuation in all categories and prices have risen since the start of the year. As a result, multiple offers and short time on the market continue to be a reality, particularly in properties valued from $500,000 to $3 million.
We expect the number of active listings will remain low for the balance of 2021 and with the relaxing of the pandemic restrictions we expect buyer demand to increase. This will lead to a market that continues to favor sellers and will support an upward movement of values in many areas. However, the low number of active listings and higher price points will result in a lower number of transactions occurring in the second half of the year. Availability and pricing continue to be the biggest contributor to market activity.
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Following a record for dollar value sold and units sold in the first three months of 2021, activity levels fell approximately 35% in the second quarter. This still represented a pace of business above the historical average but does show the impact of the lack of active listings. As a result, the total dollar volume sold also fell but remains higher than that experienced in a similar period in the years prior to the pandemic.
Despite measurable increases in average value in most sectors of the market, the overall average transaction value remained relatively consistent with that recorded at the end of 2020; reporting in at $1,503,000. This is largely due to the market activity being heavily weighed down to the lower valued condominiums and townhomes, which account for over 60% of the market activity.
As of June 30th, the single-family market has experienced a 24% decline in activity as compared to the second half of 2020. However, the average transaction value has increased by approximately 7% and now stands at $3,670,500 with the median value exceeding $3,150,000.
Condominium sales were especially active in the first half of 2021, exceeding that achieved in the last half of 2020 by almost 22%. Average sales value in the first half of the year rose by 7% to $900,600 with an average dollar per square foot sales value of $1,165.
The townhouse market performed in a manner similar to the single-family market with a significant drop in sales activity due to a low number of active listings, however average sales value increased by 11% since the start of the year to $1,601,000 and average sale price per square foot now sits at $1,293.
Activity in the luxury real estate market remained consistent with the experience in the second half of 2020. The average transaction value for this unique category exceeded $6.5 million dollars with 3 reported sales exceeding 10 million dollars. Similar to other sectors of the market, active listings in the luxury category are at historically low levels and although interest remains high, we would expect the number of transactions to be below that of the recent past during the next six months.
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEXT HALF OF THE YEAR
At the current time, the number of active listings in Whistler sits at a historical low. With no increase in new construction in the foreseeable future, we see no reason for this to change and we expect days on market and months of inventory to remain at very low levels.
As we move into the second half of 2021 and embrace the post-pandemic period, we expect the interest in Whistler properties to remain strong as a result of a rebounding economy, low interest rates, and increased tourism.
There are, however, several factors to consider that may impact demand and will be watched carefully:
a) Low levels of inventory over the last 12 months have led to a significant increase in prices. Whistler values now sit at their highest level ever. Strong activity will be driven to some extent by buyer perception of relative value and the strength of their desire to own in Whistler at that value.
b) Inflation increasingly seems to be a topic of discussion. This may impact interest rates and consumer confidence and purchasing power with a resulting impact on demand.
c) Construction costs continue to rise, and the slow approval process dictates that supply will continue to trail demand and buyer fulfillment will largely be focused on already built properties.
d) Will buyer trends for preference on properties with more space and ones that embrace remote work opportunities become less important in a post-pandemic world?
e) In the short term, will the relaxation of Covid restrictions cause consumers to embrace more time travelling with a focus on personal enjoyment rather than investment opportunities?
We have now completed four quarters of above-average growth in sales activity and in sales value. Our expectation for the next six months is that sales activity will continue to moderate and return to historical averages, but prices and price appreciation will remain supported due to new and pent-up demand.
*As reported to the Whistler Listing System. Data used is deemed to be reliable but is not exhaustive and is being used to show trends only and should not be used to analyze specific properties. Please consult your real estate advisor to discuss the current market conditions for individual properties.
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