Here is a collection of frequently asked questions that I have put together to help you in buying a home in Whistler. If you have any other questions, not listed here, feel free to call or send an e-mail.
Can a U.S. or foreign investor purchase property in Whistler?
Yes, in fact there are no restrictions to foreign ownership here. I deal with investors from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the U.K., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the Middle East – you name it.
How do rentals work in hotel condominiums like The Westin Whistler, Four Seasons, or the Pan Pacific Hotels?
The hotel style suites are run on a pooled revenue basis. This means that every month the revenue for the entire building is pooled together and divided out to each owner according to that suite’s size, view, floor plan, etc. The rental manager in these buildings has the contract to handle the entire building and you must use the rental management company that’s in place.
What about rentals in a ski-in/ski-out townhome?
In the case of a townhome or a suite in a non-hotel building like the Town Plaza, you can interview various independent rental managers to take care of the rentals, marketing, cleaning, etc. However, you don’t benefit from the pooled revenue system and only receive revenues from your individual suite.
I want to buy a chalet and rent it out. Can I do that?
Unless you purchase Bed and Breakfast, Pension, or a home that’s in an area specifically zoned for nightly rentals you cannot rent your chalet on a nightly basis. You can rent it out by the month but no less. There are areas of Whistler where homes are zoned for nightly rentals (like Muirfield Drive in Nicklaus North) but be prepared to pay a premium for such a house.
What are some of the fees involved if I conduct nightly rentals in my suite?
The rental manager will take anywhere from 35-52% of the gross revenue coming into your suite as a management fee. Also, you’ll need to pay a strata fee that could be anywhere from $250 to $1200/month depending on where you buy, its size and whether it has an outdoor heated pool and hot tub. This maintenance fee covers landscaping, snow removal, garbage removal, pool & hot tub maintenance & heating, building exterior, lobby, hallway upkeep, etc.
Can I get positive cash flow from my Whistler rental property?
Rental property here is not the money making machine you would think it is. If you’re looking for your Whistler revenue property to break even or give positive cash flow then you would need to put from approximately 40-50% down – even more in some cases. Think of your Whistler investment as a place in North America’s #1 resort that you can call your own with a healthy upside for capital appreciation.
I want to physically see what revenues are like for some of these suites. Can you send me a summary?
We can email you the actual historical revenue figures for any currently listed nightly rental suite going back to 2 to 3 years if you wish. Do keep in mind that any revenue history we send out to you must be taken with a grain of salt. The revenue streams on most of the properties here in Whistler will likely cover your property taxes, homeowner dues (strata fees), your Tourism Whistler (TW fees) and perhaps one or two months of your mortgage depending whether you choose to have one and depending how large it is.
Income from most Whistler nightly rental properties typically WILL NOT cover your entire investment or provide positive cashflow after expenses.
Also, the revenues we provide for any of the nightly rental properties for sale in Whistler vary greatly due to many factors including owner use and time of year and seasonality. When you contact us please be sure to discuss these points during our call.
How much are closing costs?
You should allow approximately $1,500 for legal fees to have a lawyer convey the transaction to your name with the B.C. Land Titles Office. You’ll also need to budget for adjustments to the taxes and sewer/water. This could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand depending on the property and time of year. Also, don’t forget about our provincial Property Purchase Tax, which amounts to 1% on the first $200,000, 2% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $200,000 and up to and including $2,000,000, and 3% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $2,000,000. And If the property is residential, a further 2% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $3,000,000 applies.
What’s the best area of Whistler to invest in?
Well, that depends on your personal preference.
If you’re looking for a high end home then look no further than Sunridge in Brio, Blueberry Hill, or Horstman Lane at Blackcomb Benchlands. More budget conscious? Try a house in Emerald Estates or Black Tusk. Looking for a ski-in/ski-out condo? Try Blackcomb Benchlands, Taluswood in Nordic Estates, or something in Whistler Creekside. Want to be in the center of all the action? A condo steps away from the gondola in Whistler Village is where you should be. Want a chalet on the lake? Try Summer Lane in Emerald Estates, Golden Bear Lane at Nicklaus North, or something on Archibald Way in Alta Vista. Need rental revenue to help offset your ongoing costs? Try Whistler Village or Blackcomb Benchlands for some great nightly rental zoned hotel-style suites and townhomes.
I want to buy a lot to build my dream home on. Where can I find one?
Vacant land is a rare commodity here in Whistler and it doesn’t come available that often. Some investors will even buy an older chalet and tear it down so they can build to suit. Call or email me for the most current list of what’s available.
I hear a lot about Phase 1 and Phase 2. What does this mean?
You can conduct nightly rentals of your suite in only a few areas of Whistler. These areas are Whistler Village, Blackcomb Benchlands, certain sections of Whistler Creek, Nicklaus North, and a few other spot–zoned areas around the valley.
Of these nightly zoned properties there are three types.
Phase 1: The owner has unlimited owner use or can rent it on a nightly basis. When it’s not being occupied by the owner it must be made available for nightly rentals. Phase 1 suites are mainly townhomes and some of the larger condo buildings.
Phase 2: The owner can only use it 28 days in the winter and 28 days in the summer for a total of 56 days per year. The rest of the time it must be made available for nightly rentals. Of course, if you’re not going to use all 56 days then you just put those days back in the rental pool. Phase 2 buildings are mainly hotel-style condos like the Westin or Four Seasons.
TA (Tourist Accommodation) Zoned: These are homes such as B & B’s and Pensions that have been spot-zoned to conduct nightly rentals.
Which ones are Phase 1 and which are Phase 2?
The Phase 2 buildings in Whistler exist only in Whistler Village and Blackcomb Benchlands and are as follows:
Delta Whistler Village Suites
The Pan Pacific Mountainside
The Pan Pacific Whistler Village
All the other buildings in the rest of Whistler Village, Blackcomb Benchlands, and some sections of Whistler Creek are zoned as Phase 1.
There are some "shared owner" condos listed. What does this mean?
Some of the shared owner listings on the Properties page of this site are timeshare as you can see by the prices. Another kind of shared owner is Quarter Ownership and it’s not timeshare at all. You see, title to the suite is split into four quarters so it’s like owning a suite with three other partners that you don’t know. You get to use the suite one week a month with every year rotating so that every fourth year you’ll get Christmas and New Years. There are currently four quarter ownership complexes in Whistler:
Horstman House is ski-in at Blackcomb Benchlands. The Legends & Evolution is right at the base of the gondola at Whistler Creek. Montebello II is a high-end, luxury townhome complex in Village North.
The major advantage to quarter ownership is that you only pay for the amount of time that you use it. If you’re it one month then you can put your suite into the rental program and receive some revenue for it. This is not timeshare – this is real ownership and you get actual title to your quarter.
Is there any available real estate to the north of Whistler?
There are some great buys in a small town just 25 minute’s drive north of Whistler in Pemberton. A home or condo can be purchased there for far less than Whistler. Don’t expect to rent it out nightly when you’re not here – it’s monthly rentals only. A monthly tenant in the summer might work leaving the winter for your own personal use.
I just want a nice, cozy cabin in the woods. Where can I find something like that?
There’s plenty to choose from in the rugged, cozy cabin department far from the buzz of Whistler Village – maybe even on a quiet, calm mountain lake. Going further up the road north past Pemberton and into the southern Chilcotin Range you can find just what you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost of Whistler. Areas like D’Arcy, Birken, Poole Creek, Seton Portage, Lillooet Lake, Bralorne, Gold Bridge, and Gun Lake are all excellent places to find your own private mountain hideaway. Plus, you’re only 1 to 2 hours away from Whistler!
I see a few cabins listed for a lot less than I expected. Why is that?
These cabins are priced low for a reason. They’re in areas (listed above) are 1 to 2 hours from Whistler to the north. Great as a private mountain hideaway but not really what you’re looking for if you want quick and easy access to Whistler Village.
I now have an accepted subject offer on my Whistler dream home. What happens next?
You can relax while I handle all the hard stuff. I’ll take care of everything from tracking down all the strata meeting minutes, AGM minutes and Form B from the strata manager (if you’re buying a condo) to accompanying the building inspector into the property (if you plan to have a building inspection). All the while I’m making absolutely sure that every one of your questions have been answered. I’ll do my very best to make sure you’re comfortable with the buying process so that everything moves forward as smoothly as possible.
Now we have a firm contract and our subjects have been removed. What do we do now?
The hard part’s over. Now I handle getting all the required documents out to your lawyer. He’ll draft all the applicable transfer papers and courier them out to you. You’ll need to sign, have them notarized, and courier it all back to your lawyer as quickly as you can. Time is of the essence here and we don’t want to miss our closing date! If you live close to your lawyer in Vancouver or Whistler you can just go over to his/her office to sign the paperwork.
You’ll also want to take care of some of the little details like arranging for electricity, phone, and cable hookup.
I’ve heard about something called Withholding Tax on rental income. What is it?
Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) requires non-residents to pay twenty-five percent (25%) of the gross rental income from the property to CCRA.You may obtain a reduction in such withholding tax if you complete a government form called an NR6 setting out that the projected income are offset by the anticipated expenses associated with the property. Most rental managers will assist in the completion of the NR6 return. Upon having filed NR6, you are obligated to file an annual Canadian tax return with respect to the property with CCRA. CCRA will only allow expenses to be claimed if the returns are filed and will disallow any expenses incurred more than two years prior to the time of filing the return. it’s very important that your returns are kept current to avoid expenses being disallowed and tax being paid on the gross rental income.
What does Strata Titled Condominium mean?
As the owner of a shiny new Whistler condo you’ll be responsible for paying monthly maintenance fees to cover the upkeep of all the common areas outside of your four walls. The Strata Corporation (council of owners) is also entitled to levy special assessments for extraordinary expenses should there not be sufficient money in the contingency reserve fund. When purchasing, you should review the strata meeting minutes carefully to determine whether there are any extraordinary expenditures coming down the road. I can also help you determine what rights you have to use the common areas such as parking stalls and lockers, if applicable.