Canada’s winter recreational regions are hot markets

A recent Royal LePage report says prices in many key Canadian winter recreational real estate markets are experiencing healthy price gains as retirees, investors and buyers looking for winter getaways continue to spur demand.

In Western Canada, the median price of apartment-style condominiums in winter recreational regions rose at a faster pace compared to detached properties, while the median price for the latter dipped. In particular, condominium apartment prices in Whistler increased 26.5 per cent and Canmore also saw significant appreciation when compared to last year, alongside a considerable increase in sales activity.

“Canada boasts the world’s most spectacular winter experiences. Across our vast land are recreational regions that offer adventure, opportunities for creating priceless family memories and a simple refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life,” says Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage.

“The number of buyers shopping for a four-season recreational property, be they travelling a modest drive from the local metropolis or a jet-setting trip across the pond, is again on the rise, and recreational property values are rising as a result. This is particularly true in the mountainside condominium market as more and more investors seek the convenience of lock-and-leave living.”

British Columbia

In the municipality of Whistler, home to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, property prices in both the detached and condominium segments have increased significantly. When compared year-over-year, the median price of a detached property home rose 14.5 per cent to $2.4 million, while the median price of a condominium increased significantly, rising 26.5 per cent to $610,000.

“More affordable properties are still seeing high demand, despite a slowing in overall activity,” says Pat Kelly, president and owner, Royal LePage Black Tusk. “The B.C. foreign buyer tax and speculation tax do not apply to Whistler, and as such, there has been no drop in interest from international buyers.

“That being said, recreational properties in the area are primarily bought and sold by individuals who are local to the province, while international buyers only represent a small proportion of sales in Whistler. In 2019, we expect further price appreciation, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years.”

Kelly says that growth in the tourism sector over the last five years has fueled an increased demand for condominium properties, as many buyers are searching for short-term income rental and investment properties.

Meanwhile, in Invermere, sales activity has remained relatively stable while the median price of a detached home has decreased year-over-year to $401,250, increasing affordability in the region.

“Recreational properties in Invermere remain affordable and we are seeing an increase of sales in lower-priced properties, which affect the median home value,” says Barry Benson, broker and owner, Royal LePage Rockies West. “Given the proximity of our market to Alberta, if we see economic gains on the other side of our provincial border, it will likely spur consumer confidence among prospective buyers and increase sales activity as we move into 2019.”

Benson says the British Columbia wildfires also impacted sales activity over the summer months. In 2019, Invermere is expected to experience the same positive uptick in activity.

Detached homes in Kimberley made the largest median price gain of regions surveyed as demand far outstripped supply. Potential buyers were shopping with less than 40 per cent of the typical inventory level for the region.

“While demand for detached homes in Kimberley is strong as buyers continue to be attracted to the lifestyle offered in the region, median price appreciation also reflects more expensive homes being sold,” says Darren Close, managing broker, Royal LePage East Kootenay Realty.

“Buyers looking for a deal in the region should consider condominiums. Not only are they close in proximity to the slopes, overbuilding in previous years has kept this housing type affordable and offers excellent selection.”


In Canmore, which is a 20-minute drive from Banff, the median price for a detached home dipped slightly by 1.1 per cent year-over-year to $918,500. In contrast, the median price for a condominium surged 9.6 per cent year-over-year to $472,000.

“We’ve seen more sales activity in the entry-level market this year,” says Brad Hawker, broker and owner, Royal LePage Rocky Mountain Realty. “While most buyers in Canmore are from within Canada, we have seen a slight increase in international demand from the United States and Mainland China.”

Hawker also says with limited land for future development keeping values intact, it is likely that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will continue to purchase recreational retirement properties in the region.


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