Tag Archives: Whistler

“We accepted our friend’s offer, but the deal fell through… some financial trouble with their bank. We re-listed few months ago and dropped the price, but no offers…”

line_up_at_ski_lift_whistler_mountain_whistler_700-05389295

Overheard the following exchange this am in the ski lift lineup at Whistler:
“Still have this place in Whistler?… Yes, we listed a year ago… it was on the high side… we accepted friend’s offer, but the deal fell through… some financial trouble with their bank… We re-listed few months ago and dropped the price, but no offers…”

- Skier on VREAA 27 Dec 2012 4:07pm

Run That Buy Me Again – “I’ve been in and out of three properties in Whistler since 2001 and that market has been very good to me, because I’m very bullish, in real estate in general.”

“While he is becoming more of a household name as one of the dragons on TV’s Dragon’s Den and has a venture capital firm helping smaller entrepreneurs, you might not necessarily think of Bruce Croxon as a real estate investor. And yet, while living in Whistler, BC in the late 1990s, Croxon took it upon himself to get into the real estate game after having realized the value real estate can bring.

“I’ve been in and out of three properties in Whistler since 2001 and that market has been very good to me, because I’m very bullish, in real estate in general, and more specifically on the resort real estate market,” he says.
Croxon is an avid skier and while living in Whistler for about two years he decided to educate himself about the real estate market there. “I learned the market well enough so I thought I could be safe in terms of buying a place to stay and so I added a couple of more places just as pure investment. It turned out to be right for a period of time.”
The first purchase was a personal residence. But with the growth in confidence of the local market, Croxon added on to his holdings with a so-called “ski-in, ski-out” condo. He rented that out to a business he owned in the area.
“The third was more for speculation but I ended up renting it out, and at the end of the day, when I was back in Toronto, I decided to sell that one as well – that was a single family residence on a very nice piece of land,” he recalls.
Croxon explains that the resort market is of interest to him because of the limited supply of land and development potential for areas that people are interested in visiting. For example, he says Canada, specifically Whistler, has some of the best skiing opportunities in the world. “I think there is limited supply and if you want that terrain you’ve got to go there and there is a limit on how much you can build. So it was the right combinations to have an asset grow.”

With all the asset classes that have made their way in and out of Croxon’s portfolio over the years, real estate has served an important niche, especially given his investment strategy.
Says Croxon: “I’m an operator and have not been an investor until recently. [Real estate] was a way to be passively involved in an investment I developed some confidence in. You really don’t have to work that asset too much,” he explains.
“It will either go up or down on its own. For me that’s the attractive part of it. In general, I just think real estate, over a long period of time, has performed quite well. People need a place to live and it seems to be one of those asset classes that survive,” he adds.

- from ‘Dragon’s Den star reveals why he’s still bullish on real estate’, Joel Kranc, Globe and Mail, 27 Jul 2012, an article reprinted “from Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine, a monthly publication focused on building value through property investment”.

This has to be the hand-waviest article we’ve seen on RE investing for quite some time.
There really is no substance to it at all.
The author tells us that a guy who made money trading Whistler properties over the last 10 years is kinda sure it’s possible to make money in RE.
Why RE? Land is limited. “People need a place to live”. RE “seems to be one of those asset classes that survive”.
There is perhaps nothing that any potential RE investor could take from this article that would be of any use to them whatsoever.
There is certainly no information about the current state of the Canadian market.
Should an investor be buying or selling RE? How has the RE market actually been doing, in Whistler, or anywhere else, for that matter?
Perhaps the one lesson gleaned could be that to make money in RE, you have to buy and sell.
And that fortunate timing is crucial for many participants.
- vreaa

Whistler Hilton Blowout Sale – Looks like some American from New Jersey has defaulted and foreclosed on something like 40 units at the Hilton in Whistler.

“Anyone know what’s going on with all the HSBC foreclosure sales at the Hilton in Whistler? Looks like some American from New Jersey has defaulted and foreclosed on something like 40 units. Ouch. They are blowing them out however so you’re seeing the Whistler stats spike a bit on volume.”
- ZRH2YVR at VCI 8 Jul 2012 11:06am

“My hubby owns a condo in Whistler with his sister, they bought when she suckered him into thinking this was a ‘great investment’. Currently, the thing is worth about what they paid for it, 10 years ago.”

“My hubby owns a condo in Whistler with his sister, they bought about ten years ago when she suckered him into thinking this was a “great investment!” (He didn’t know me then, if he did, believe I would have hit him over the head with a frying pan before letting him go through with this bad investment.) Here are the numbers:
- The condo cost about $225k. It’s in a rental pool, meaning the property management company takes 40% of every dollar earned. The condo owner is on the hook for everything-strata fees, hydro, property taxes, maintenance, updating the suite etc. Oh, and a mortgage.
- Every single year since they’ve owned it, they’ve lost about $10k per year. I did some quick calculations and came up with the strata fees, property taxes and property management fees take up 94% of their revenues. So, even when they don’t have a mortgage on this sucker, they are guaranteed to lose money, or make pennies.
- Currently, the thing is worth about what they paid for it, ten years ago. If they’re lucky. Property in Whistler doesn’t look so hot these days, despite his sister telling me for years she was going to be a millionaire after the Olympics. (Ya, right). I haven’t heard this lately from her. I wonder why.
- The other kicker? They don’t ski. When we go to Whistler, we’re not even allowed to stay in the condo (she’s the majority owner), because it takes away from the potential rental pool revenue. Ya, I’m a bit bitter about this damn investment, hubby’s trying to get out of it, as I’ve been throwing these numbers at him for ages. He just says “Uh huh” and looks pretty glum.
So my point in….never EVER should anyone ever invest in real estate with a family member. It’s bad news. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only person you should buy real estate with is your spouse. At least then if you get divorced you can sell and split the proceeds. With other family members, it can be a horror story if you want to sell, you’ll have to convince them to cough up the cash and buy you out. Good luck with that!!!”

— Dian as cited by Garth at greaterfool.ca 20 May 2012

Whistler RE Bust Continues – “A unit originally sold in the Four Seasons Whistler for about $1.1 million was recently resold for only $520,000. … It’s not anything wrong with Whistler or that Whistler is worth less”

Those who own a condo unit in a Whistler hotel are sitting on great potential, but at the moment the units are not showing great value.
Real estate consultant Denise Brown with Re/Max Sea to Sky Real Estate reported that a unit originally sold in the Four Seasons Whistler for about $1.1 million was recently resold for only $520,000.


“We’ve seen the prices come down significantly,” she said.
According to Brown, this segment of the real estate business is at the bottom of the cycle so prices are good right now. She said the people who are happiest in the condo hotel market are those who are in for the long-term and have made a lifestyle choice in purchasing a condo unit in a hotel.
“It is only those people who are looking for a lifestyle that own their own property in a complex that they like and believe in and want to use with their family,” she said.


Pat Kelly, from the Whistler Real Estate Company, said when condo hotel units first became available in Whistler expectations were high.
“People were buying on vision,” said Kelly. “Revenue has not met expectations in the last few years.”
According to Kelly, the lower than expected revenues produced through hotel condo units has combined with exchange rates, high strata fees, high property taxes and fixed overhead costs to drive prices down.
“The market is now valuing these things properly,” Kelly said. …
“Some of our friends to the south have had to do some pretty significant financial rationalization, which has caused them to want to sell things,” he said.
According to Brown, the people who were relying on the hotel condo units to produce high returns beyond covering all the costs associated with owning this type of property are getting out of their investments.


“It’s not anything wrong with Whistler or that Whistler is worth less,” said Kelly. “It is just that people are prepared to spend less.”

- from ‘Hotel condominium units hit hard by current economy’, John French, Pique, 1 Mar 2012

—-

“Great potential, but at the moment the units are not showing great value.”
“It’s not anything wrong with Whistler or that Whistler is worth less.”
(This from the same guys, we’ll bet, who used to say stuff like “real estate is worth whatever somebody is prepared to pay for it”.)
- vreaa

Recreational Price Implosion – Okanagan; Whistler – 45% to 54%-Off


580 Sarsons Rd, Kelowna, BC V1W 2X3, Canada
1452 sq ft ‘penthouse’
Asking price $600K; “Reduced Almost $500K”


4591-258/259 Blackcomb Way
258/259 in the Four Seasons Resort provides 2 beds / 2 baths and 1,430 sq ft.  The price has just been reduced to $527.5k which implies a deal at c$500k is achievable (which is in line with the recent sale in the building).  [Sold for $519K -ed.] That compares to an original 2002 sale price of $1,138k for this unit!”

[hat-tip Makaya at VCI]

Coming soon to a metropolitan area near you. – vreaa

Whistler – “Some jaw dropping recent sales. These examples are 50% off the 2002 high. This market is starting to tank.”

“Finding actual Whistler stats is as rare as Yeti sightings. The local firms are all in cahoots running the private WLS. I will see what I can find. Sales are a dismal 6-15 per week. Some jaw dropping recent sales, single family home in Alpine for $550K, a ski in/out condo at the Aspens for $300K. These examples are 50% off the 2002 high. This market is starting to tank I fully expect more price pain for 2012. We need the U.S buyers back.”Lady Luck at RETalks 2 Jan 2012 9:19pm

Post-Olympic Sentiment Low-Point – “Canada investigates mass sled dog slaughter”

Covered all over the local press, but internationally, too. Here it is from breitbart.com 31 Jan 2011 -
Excerpt: “Police are investigating the slaughter of 100 husky dogs used during the 2010 Winter Olympics to pull tourist sleds in the Canadian ski resort of Whistler, authorities said Monday. The grisly killings were reportedly carried out by one worker over two days in April 2010 with a shotgun and a knife, with reports of injured dogs crawling out of a mass grave. Local media said the dogs were killed because business slumped in the two months following the Games and they were no longer needed by tourism companies Outdoor Adventures and Howling Dogs, which sell dog-sled rides to tourists.”

“These were supposed to be the ‘greenest Games ever’. What a joke.”

We seem to be world leaders in the area of self deception. -vreaa

Buses For Games Not Green, by Bob Mackin, 24h News Vancouver, 10 Nov 2010 [excerpts] – “More than 1,000 buses from around North America used at the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics were driven a combined 5.1 million kilometres to and from Vancouver. British Columbia Passenger Transportation Branch temporary licence records obtained by 24 hours via Freedom of Information show that VANOC charter bus contractor Gameday Management Group of Orlando, Fla., formed a mostly diesel, mostly American fleet to shuttle athletes, sponsors, dignitaries, media, workers and spectators in February and March.
Numerous companies still owed their final payments await the results of this week’s mediation between VANOC and Gameday, which claims it’s owed $10 million. Taxpayers bailed out VANOC for at least $80 million and could be on the hook for more.
Using the list of companies and their addresses, 24 hours measured the round-trip distances using Google Maps and found the 1,112 buses went 5,106,618.2 km, or a total of 127 trips around the equator.
The documents do not show how far the buses went while in the city during the Games.
“These were supposed to be the ‘greenest Games ever’,” said Olympic critic and Five Ring Circus author Chris Shaw. “What a joke.”

The Periphery Is Imploding – Penticton, Kelowna, Whistler, Sunshine Coast – “Priced more than 40% below what was paid in 2002.”

Penticton, Kelowna, Whistler, Sunshine Coast… Some RE bubbles start from a centre and move concentrically outwards, and when they implode the reverse happens. Our epicentre is perhaps Vancouver Westside detached. Many of these ‘peripheral’ properties are, of course, owned by people from Greater Vancouver.  -vreaa

Penticton (greaterfool.ca 24 Aug 2010) – “A year ago a guy bought a sub-penthouse in a sub-interesting condo in Penticton, a BC resort town, and paid $1,300,000. On Saturday a mess of people showed up at the same building, and the same suite was sold at auction for $685,000. “Interestingly,” said someone with family at the event, “a number of people thought the prices were still a little high.”

Whistler (cfl122 at RE Talks 22 Aug 2010 7:22pm) – “I was talking to a few hockey parents and they told me that they had recently bought in Whistler. One parent purchased a condo in the Four Season Hotel for less than $250k from a seller who had purchased that condo for more than $600k. Another bought a townhouse for less than half the original listed price.” (Realtor link confirms, sold for $250K: “Court ordered sale: Suite 507 is a 645 king suite with 5 piece luxury, spa-like bath. Phase 2 nightly rental luxury 5 star property with all amenities the discerning buyer deserves. Priced more than 40% below what was paid in 2002.”)

Kelowna to Osoyoos (McLovin at vancouvercondo.info 29 Aug 2010 9.17am)- “I just returned from my second week this summer in beautiful Osoyoos. The family and friends all had an amazing time but talk about dead. We have been going there for 5 summers and I have never seen virtually every hotel on “hotel row” with vacancy on a Sat night. I don’t know if people are traveling less or the “Alberta oil money” has stopped flowing but it was dead. Chatting with an owner of a 15 unit building I learned that Pentiction is hurting so much that hotel prices in some places are down 50%. I did my usual drive around and noticed even more inventory and a bunch of “new price” signs. There were even two projects offering “blow out pricing” The entire area from Kelowna to Osoyoos has gone no bid. There are simply no buyers at virtually any price and inventory keeps grinding higher. There is a waterfront place that we considered buying as a group in 2008. The owner had it listed at $1.3M but we were told by another [realtor] to offer $1.1M. We did the math and decided that it was just way too much for a place we would use collectively 14 weeks a year especially in light of the fact one can rent a similar place for $3,000 per week and give back the keys (like we just did) Anyway, last summer the price had dropped to $1.0M and we were told by the [realtor] that the owner of the empty house had turned down two offers for $950K. This spring (after it had been on the market for two years) the price was dropped to $900K. The price was dropped Aug 1 of this year to $829K (from $1.3M) and still no buyers! That has to put a chill into the retirement plans of many a boomer who bought there in 1982 for $67,000 and plans on listing it for $1.2M! The reality of the pricing has set in and people are realizing that the prices have just gone past the ability for even groups of people to pay for a 1980’s vacation home. In my opinion after watching prices there since 2005, from the peak in 2007 prices are down (unofficially of course as there are ZERO sales) 20-25% and show an increasing trend downwards. There are many projects that were built since 2007 such as Walnut Beach where every buyer is underwater big time. The whole of the Okanagan dropped in 2008 like Vancouver but did not bounce back at all.”

Sunshine Coast (rebgv.org Aug 2010 data) - Detached sales price benchmark down 14% in one month (260.4 Jul 2010; 223.9 Aug 2010)

Whistler – “He told me everything is for sale and pointed out a listing in the the Four Seasons that is a court ordered sale for 250k. These places traded between 450-500k at the peak.”

XXX at vancouvercondo.info 18 May 2010 8:13 am“I talked to the local Whistler realtor I deal with. He told me everything is for sale and pointed out a listing in the the Four Seasons that is a court ordered sale for 250k. These places traded between 450-500k at the peak. There are at least 10 for sale but I only know of one that is court ordered – for now.”

“After many red hot years the Whistler rental market has tumbled. Far more supply than demand. It is now a renters’ market. Throw in the 300 new units being turned over to locals at the Athletes Village and there is no end in sight.”

Lady Luck at RE Talks 28 Mar 2010 9:45 am -

“After many red hot years the Whistler rental market (for locals, not vacationers) has tumbled. Far more supply than demand. It is now a renters’ market. Rents are dropping by the week. Two bedrooms that were renting for $2000 can be had for $1400. This will also have a spill over effect on the Squamish and Pemberton markets as commuters return to Whistler because of increased affordability. Throw in the 300 new units being turned over to locals at the Athletes Village and there is no end in sight. Not every landlord will be able to weather the soft market. It will be interesting to see if this in turn creates even more inventory for sale. The only thing I see improving the situation (for landlords) is increased tourism next winter.”

Whistler – “The owner told me their real estate agent just said 30 similar properties had just come on the market.”

Ulsterman at vancouvercondo.info 22 Mar 2010 11:58 pm -

“Just had a friend in town from the UK who would love to live here. He watched the Olympics, loves the place, but when he heard about house prices he just laughed and laughed. I rented a townhouse for him in Whistler which has been on sale since July. When I returned the keys, the owner told me their real estate agent just said 30 similar properties had just come on the market. They said if I wanted to rent again, feel free, because they didn’t imagine they’d sell it anytime soon.”

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity? – Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, and The Guardian Preview the Olympics

Winter Olympic rings in Vancouver harbour

The story of the Vancouver RE boom and the fantasy of Olympic glory have long been attached at the hip. We thus continue to monitor Games sentiment. Three major international news publications, MSNBC (Associated press), Sports Illustrated, and The Guardian, are currently running remarkably bleak articles on Vancouver and the 2010 Games. -vreaa

From ‘Vancouver’s Olympics Head For Disaster’ by Douglas Haddow, The Guardian 31 Jan 2010 -

“Just days before the opening ceremony, Vancouver is gripped by dread. Not the typical attitude for a host city, but understandable when you consider that everything that could go wrong, is in the process of going wrong. … In the mid-2000s the games were originally slated to cost a pittance of $660m and bring in a profit of $10bn. This ludicrous projection was made before the market crash – an event that the Vancouver’s Olympic committee failed to anticipate. … Conservative estimates now speculate that the games will cost upwards of $6bn, with little chance of a return. This titanic act of fiscal malfeasance includes a security force that was originally budgeted at $175m, but has since inflated to $900m. With more than 15,000 members, it’s the largest military presence seen in western Canada since the end of the second world war, an appropriate measure only if one imagines al-Qaida are set to descend from the slopes on C2-strapped snowboards. With a police officer on every corner and military helicopters buzzing overhead, Vancouver looks more like post-war Berlin than an Olympic wonderland. … This manic mix of hype and gloom is a byproduct of the games’ utter pointlessness. … It will be the best chance yet for the Olympics to be derailed and exposed as what they are: a corrupt relic of the 20th century that does little more than gut city coffers and line the pockets of developers and investors.”

From ‘As Olympics Near, People Are Dreading Games’ by Dave Zirin, Sports Illustrated, 25 Jan 2010 -

“The International Olympic Committee has leased every sign and billboard in town to broadcast Olympic joy, but they can’t purchase people’s faces. It’s clear that the 2010 Winter Games has made the mood in the bucolic coastal city decidedly overcast. … I spoke to Charles, a bus driver, whose good cheer diminished when I asked him about the games. “I just can’t believe I wanted this a year ago,” he said. “I voted for it in the plebiscite. But now, yes. I’m disillusioned.”… A sports reporter from the Globe and Mail said to me, “The optics of cuts in city services alongside Olympic cost overruns are to put it mildly, not good.” … Bringing together a myriad of issues, Vancouver residents have put out an open call for a week of anti-game actions. … Expect a tent city, expect picket signs, expect aggressive direct actions. Tellingly, according to the latest polls, 40 percent of British Columbia residents support the aims of the protesters.”

Image: East Hastings Street

[Photo caption] ‘Welcome to Downtown Eastside. Here, life is gritty, volatile and the slightest misstep can invite brutal retaliation.’

From ‘Canada’s Olympic City Has Notorious Skid Row’, Associated Press, at msnbc 30 Jan 2010 -

“Whistler bankrupted a very good friend of mine. He got in 4 years ago on the Olympics hype but it was all a mirage.”

Whistler is Vancouver’s premier ‘cottage country’. You’d be excused for guessing that, as Vancouver boomed, Whistler would have moved in lock-step. This has not been the case, with the luxury market there moving down for years. This has affected a subgroup of Vancouver RE investors. These two posts at RE Talks on 25 Nov 2009 -

kevind (5:43 am)“I have several friends and associates that got hammered and are still stuck in Whistler and can’t get their properties sold. One guy has had his place for sale for 5 years and has had only one offer in all that time for 1 million under his build cost and he just keeps dropping the price. He’s also lost most of his hair from the stress. I know of another place that went on the market new in 2005 for just under 3 million and last time I looked it had dropped to the 1.8 range and still for sale. The build and land cost him more than 1.8. A round of drinks one evening last season at the Longhorn and I hear this guy over at the next table make the comment something like “Christ, I feel like I could put my place up for 1 buck and no one would call”. Another friend I know just wishes his place would magically burn to the ground because the insurance replacement build value is 1.5 million more than he can hope to get for it today if he’s lucky and he would still own the land. I could go on and on.”

Greenhorn (8:50 am)“Whistler bankrupted a very good friend of mine. He got in 4 years ago on the Olympics hype but it was all a mirage. Once his property was underwater, he gave it back to the bank and got sued for the deficit. Just going through bankruptcy now. Luckily other assets like his home were in his wifes name and she has credit still or he would be on the street. They both have jobs and income right now, but the deficit to the bank was too huge to recover from. Bankruptcy was the only choice. I went to many parties in his house in Whistler. It was beautiful. Towards the end, he had a tenant who operated the property as a type of hostel/hotel. The tenant was always late on rent payments though he was making money and getting paid every month. There are a lot of scammers up there.”