December 22, 2011

Sharing the Whistler Dream

Quarter ownerships offer convenience, security and revenue possibilities

Thanks to consistent No. 1 ratings, and a healthy abundance of snow for powder hounds to devour all season long, the resort town of Whistler attracts about two million visitors every year.  Many return year-after-year to take advantage of Whistler’s almost endless mix of recreation, dining, and entertainment — all in a cosy, alpine village setting.

It’s a pretty sure bet that more than a few of those visitors have crunched through the Village after a day of fun on the slopes, looked around at some of the beautiful homes and accommodations in the resort and dreamed of what it would be like to actually live in Whistler.  The idea of a large financial investment, though — and in a second home that will only be used occasionally — often prevents those thoughts from becoming a reality. But with quarter ownerships, it doesn’t have to be a dream, said Ray Longmuir, associate broker at Whistler Real Estate Company (WREC).

Shared ownership in Whistler properties is nothing new, and neither are the hassles associated with buying a house with friends.  “As Whistler started to grow and mature, families from Vancouver, Seattle and all over the Pacific Northwest wanted to own here, but they had jobs and lives elsewhere, and couldn’t use a home 365 days a year,” said Longmuir. “It was also a huge capital investment. So people got friends together and bought as groups.”

But those situations often led to unexpected problems.  “The problem was there was no consistency with usage,” he said. “Many people draw up contracts for schedules and for keeping the place clean after using it, but different people have different ideas about cleanliness.”  Anyone who has had a college roommate can attest to that fact. “Also, what happens after three years if someone decides to sell their share? The new person doesn’t have to agree to the same terms,” said Longmuir. “Everyone is also tied financially to the property together.”

Seeing the need for a hassle-free shared ownership solution, the resort began offering quarter ownerships – at first in Horstmann House in the Whistler Benchlands.  “Certain things were part of the buying covenant,” he said. “Your weeks were set down, so you bought week A, B, C or D, and the place would be professionally cleaned after you left. The other thing was it separated you financially, and otherwise, from the other people involved.”

Today, Whistler offers a wide variety of quarter ownership properties that follow the same simple program of a no-hassle Whistler dream.  “You can have ski-in/ski-out one-, two- or three-bedroom units in buildings that operate like hotels, but have a much more residential feel,” said Longmuir. “Some locations have private hot tubs and private garages. Legends at Creekside and Evolution at Creekside are just steps away from the Gondola.”

Quarter share properties also offer a way to generate a little extra revenue as well.  “If you are not going to be using the property, it goes into a pool of rental units, so it is a nice way to offset costs,” he said. “And now is a particularly good time to be purchasing quarter share properties as they are currently trading at a lot less than quarter the price of a full property.”  He said shares in three- or four-bedroom town houses started under $200,000, while a one-bedroom was going for $60,000.

“They’re designed as great lifestyle properties for those that want to come to Whistler and not own a full property – and maybe generate a little extra revenue on the side,” he said. “And we’re sitting at a great time to buy.”

To make your Whistler dream a reality, visit the Whistler Real Estate Company at www.whistlerrealestate.ca

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