RE/MAX 2019 Western Canada Ski Report

Perception vs. Reality: Ski resort properties are more attainable than Western Canadians think

  • Seventy-one per cent of Western Canadians who are interested in purchasing a ski property are looking for all-season resort capabilities
  • Twenty-three per cent of Western Canadians believe they can afford a property at a ski resort
  • Those living in an urban (27 per cent) and suburban (24 per cent) area are significantly more likely to be interested in owning a ski property in the near future, compared to those living in a rural area (16 per cent)

 

Kelowna, BC, February 12, 2019 – While ski resort properties continue to be relatively affordable, 67 per cent of Western Canadians don’t believe they can afford them. According to a recent RE/MAX survey of Western Canadians conducted by Leger, only 23 per cent of respondents claim to be able to purchase a ski resort property.

No longer just used as only winter vacation homes or winter sport destinations, ski resorts in Western Canada are now all-season resorts, with many offering summer outdoor activities including mountain biking, hiking, golf courses and more. Of those interested in purchasing a ski resort property, 71 per cent are most interested in properties with these all-season resort capabilities.

“The perception is that ski resort properties are unattainable or only for the extremely wealthy,” says Elton Ash, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Western Canada. “However, in reality, the story is very different, with multiple ski resorts in Western Canada boasting affordable prices, making them attractive investments for both local and foreign buyers.”

In fact, the survey found that snow levels and quality of snow (53 per cent), proximity to restaurants and retail (51 per cent) and mountain elevation (37 per cent) were secondary to the interest in all-season resort capabilities, confirming that these types of ski resort properties are top of mind for buyers. This is also true for investors, both local and foreign, who rent out their properties when not in use.

Those living in an urban (27 per cent) and suburban (24 per cent) area are significantly more likely to be interested in owning a ski property in the near future, compared to those living in a rural area (16 per cent).

“With so many potential buyers of ski resort properties coming from urban and suburban areas, it’s clear that more Western Canadians are interested in pursuing some sort of lifestyle change,” says Ash. “With ski resorts now boasting activities all year round, they’re more appealing to urban and suburban dwellers who want a change of pace.”

Individual RE/MAX brokers from six important ski resort destinations provided insights on their respective markets:

Big White (Kelowna, B.C.)

Buyers in Big White come from Toronto, B.C.’s Lower Mainland and Kelowna itself, seeking a lifestyle-driven investment while also renting out their properties to subsidize the purchase. The majority of buyers are Canadian with a good contingent of foreign buyers from the United Kingdom and Australia in the mix. Big White’s claim to fame is that it’s the country’s largest ski-in and ski-out resort and produces good powder every year. Prices start at about $100,000 for a studio apartment, while a two-bedroom starts at about $230,000. Townhouses go for approximately $300,000 while a freehold property would run you at least double that of a townhouse.

Silver Star Mountain Resort (Vernon, B.C.)

Buyers at the Silver Star Mountain Resort come from Alberta and B.C.’s Lower Mainland and are largely composed of semi-retirees looking for investment properties/active retirement options while younger families and individuals are looking at investment speculative homes. Properties in the region are easily rentable due to the numerous rental management options available. Due to the mountain’s high base elevation, there is more snow and less rain compared to other regions. Prices start at about $216,000 for condominiums and townhouses and $300,000 for two-bedrooms, both of which have increased since 2018.

Whistler Blackcomb (Whistler, B.C.)

Buyers in Whistler Blackcomb come from B.C.’s Lower Mainland though there is some foreign investor activity. Voted as the number one destination for skiing in North America, the Vail Epic Ski Pass allows for the ability to travel between other mountains in the area – a big draw for serious skiers. With such high demand, some properties are deemed as restricted use and are only allowed to be used 56 days of the year (28 in the summer and 28 in the winter). Prices start at $389,000 for a studio ($230,000 for those zoned as restrictive use), and go up to $439,000 for a one-bedroom, $565,00 for a two-bedroom, $534,000 for a townhouse and $1.5 million for a freehold property.

Canmore (Canmore, AB)

Canmore boasts a number of different mountains and attracts buyers from Alberta mainly. Buying activity, largely driven by baby boomer/retiree local to Canmore itself and buyers from Calgary and Edmonton looking by a lifestyle change, peaks from March to July. There is a considerable amount of investment activity in the area as well. Prices start at $370,000 for a one-bedroom condominium and $464,000 for a two-bedroom condominium.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort (Revelstoke, B.C.)

Canadian buyers at Revelstoke Mountain Resort come from Whistler or Squamish, while foreign buyers come from Western Europe, East Asia and Australia. Canadian buyers are composed of middle-aged to active retirees. Buyers are looking for a mix of winter vacation home and investment property. The downtown area is situated quite close to the mountain, making location of property largely a non-issue for buyers. Prices start at $525,000 for a strata and at $500,000 for a freehold property, both of which have increased from the previous year.

Sun Peaks Resort (Sun Peaks, B.C.)

Canadian buyers at the Sun Peaks Resort come from around British Columbia and Alberta, while foreign buyers come from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. The area primarily attracts families who choose to settle in the area due to the presence of a K-12 school and medical centre (along with some retirees). Buyers are also attracted to the quality of snow on the ground due to the drier conditions. There is limited investor activity, with some condominiums and townhouses specifically zoned for short-term rentals. Prices start at $380,000 for strata properties and $759,000 for freehold properties, the latter of which has seen a considerable increase since last year.