Real estate boom coming: report

Local investor predicts increase in demand, price two to five years after Olympics
Jennifer Miller

According to a recent report by a local real estate investor, there will be more interest in the Whistler market and an increase in real estate values because of the 2010 Olympics — but it will take two to five years for those benefits to be realized.

In the short-term future, the local real estate market will likely remain quieter than a non-Olympic year, said Peter Gorski, owner of Westbound Ventures. It seems to be normal that sales slow down before and after the event in most host cities, he said.

In Park City, Utah, which is often regarded as the closest comparison to Whistler, sales slowed down for up to a year before and a year after the resort hosted the 2002 Winter Games, Gorski said.

According to Bill Malone, president of the Park City Chamber of Commerce, the real estate market was “sketchy” in Park City for about 16 months after the Games. Potential buyers were uncertain about whether prices were good, bad, represented the “new” post-Olympic prices in the months following the event, he told The Question last month.

Gorski said it will take time for the increased tourism expected because of the Games to translate into a greater demand for real estate in Whistler and increased prices. For example, people who visited Whistler for the first time because of the Olympics will likely “fall in love” with the resort over the course of a year or two and then decide to buy property, he said.

“Research would show that it’s probably in a two- to five-year timeframe from now,” he said.

While Park City saw real estate prices jumped by as much as 250 per cent by 2007, Gorski and at least a couple of local realtors agree that it’s unlikely Whistler will see that kind of increase. Other factors were at play for Park City, such as a “huge real estate boom” in the rest of the U.S. during the same time, Gorski said.

“I personally think the impact here will be less,” he said. “Whistler will outperform other similar real estate markets in the region or in the country, but probably not to that extent.”

Values have come down in Park City since 2007, he added.

Longtime local realtor Craig Mackenzie includes a graph of average real estate prices in Park City from 2003 to 2009 in his blog ( Mackenzie writes that he doesn’t think Whistler will see as drastic a price increase as Park City because Whistler’s post-Olympic prices are starting at a higher value.

Gorski’s 40-page report is titled The Olympic Effect: Profit From Whistler’s Next Real Estate Boom. He said he’s been doing research on the local real estate market for the past couple of years and has been “really intrigued” by what the effects might be from hosting the Games.

While much attention has been paid to how increased publicity and media exposure for Whistler through Olympic coverage will be positive for the resort, Gorski said his research instead focused on “economic fundamentals” such as the upgraded highway, Games venues, and political policies that will help bring more people to town.

He said he sees the “hype” about media exposure more as “speculation,” while tangibles such as new tourist attractions and data are more appealing to investors.

Improved transportation to Whistler, the appeal of Olympic venues, and the provincial government’s plan to leverage the Games by attracting more sports competitions to the sliding centre and Whistler Olympic Park will all translate into more visitors, Gorski said.

There is a “strong correlation” between the number of visitors and the value of real estate, he said.

“The more people who come here, the more people want to move here,” he said.
March 10,2010

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