Buying a Second Home in Whistler

September 25, 2014
Home in Whistler

Thinking of buying a second home in Whistler? Before you jump in, you might want to familiarize yourself with the types of properties in Whistler, and even more importantly, to think about how you plan on using that piece of dream real estate once you have purchased it.

While the property types in Whistler are fairly self-explanatory – single family detached homes (or chalets as they are sometimes called), townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, condos, shared ownership properties, and vacant land – how you use the property after purchase may be restricted. So, before you consider what you want to buy you might want to consider what you want to do with it.

Do you want to just enjoy your property as a single owner with no thoughts to nightly rentals or rental income? Or, do you want to rent the property? And, if you want to rent the property, do you plan on managing that rental yourself, or were you planning on going with a rental management company?

With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at the different property types:

  1. Chalets / Duplex or Vacant land

This is quite simple, we have subdivisions from the south end of town, all the way to the far North of town that have Chalets and vacant land for sale.  If you are considering renting your property, you will just need to make sure that rentals are allowed as per the Zoning. You can hire a company to manage your rental, or you can do it yourself.  Just remember, if you are thinking of doing nightly rentals even if your zoning does not allow them, the RMOW does occasionally check rental ads to ensure you are following the zoning rules, and neighbours in non-rental areas don’t usually like lots of short term rentals.

buying a second home in whistler

  1. Townhouses / Condominium

For townhouses and Condominiums you also need to consider the zoning of the property.  Most of these types of properties are governed by the Phase 1 or Phase 2 zoning on the property.

 Phase 1

  • You can occupy the property on a full time basis
  • You can rent the property on a monthly basis
  • You can rent the property on a nightly basis

The zoning does state that if the property is not occupied it must be made available for rental. Something else to consider in this situation is that the Strata rules may also require you to use a particular rental management company.

Phase 2 (usually Condo/Hotels

  • You can have personal use of the property for up to 28 days in the summer season (April 15 to Oct 15th) and 28 days in the winter season.
  • You can book up to 21 days at a time
  • You can make short term bookings, which usually don’t affect your 28 days, if the hotel is less than 80% full.

Properties zoned Phase 2 are considered commercial ventures and are taxed at a commercial rate.  You will need to check with each individual property to find out if the revenues are pooled (all the property) or individual.  Similar looking properties will have a large variation in price depending on how the rental contract works and how much revenue is left at the end for the owners.

  1. Shared ownership / Fractional ownership

One of the other types of properties is the shared or fractional ownership properties.  These usually act like the Townhouse / Condominium Properties that were previously discussed, with the exception that your usage is further restricted by which period you purchase.  The most popular is Quartershares, in which generally speaking you get one week of every month with the weeks rotating in the month to ensure that once every four years your Quarter will fall on Christmas or New Year’s.

A few more things to think about when considering what property to purchase and how you intend to use that property are:

  1. Tourism Whistler Fees – fees to promote tourism in Whistler.  They are not on all the properties in Whistler, and just because you have them on the property doesn’t mean you can rent the property out nightly.
  2. Phase 1 property in a Hotel – if you are looking at property in the Hilton and/or the Four Seasons Private Residence for example – you need to be clear on how that zoning works within the workings of the hotel property.
  3. Co-operative and lease hold properties:  Look and acts like a regular Condo or Townhouse, tend to be less expensive, but are often hard to get financing for because of the type of title on the property.
  4. Employee covenanted properties – You have to live and work in Whistler to buy these, or rent them to someone who does.

I have given you a lot to think about, and some of it may be confusing, I know. However, a Whistler Real Estate Realtor not only understands the properties and usage types, but they can explain it all to you, making purchasing a second home in Whistler a simple and enjoyable process!

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