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Whistler rental housing surplus confirmed

Blog by Nick Swinburne | December 2nd, 2010

There’s a surplus of rental housing in Whistler and for new residents Kate Beenties, her sister and a friend it means they get to live in a three-bedroom house.

Statistics from the Whistler Housing Authority (WHA) confirm what most have suspected for several weeks.

Marla Zucht, WHA general manager, said the statistics indicate the number of available rental units was up in the final week of October compared to the same week in 2009.

According to Zucht the numbers also show that rental prices are down this season compared to previous years.

“It is actually less than I expected,” said Beenties of the rent at the home she moved into on Sunday (Nov. 28). “A lot of people were saying that it was going to be really expensive to live here but it was less than what I had budgeted for and less than what I expected.”

The WHA tracks rental information through newspaper classified advertising.

“The last week in October, 150 rental units were available and that would compare to 2009 of 55 units at the same week,” said Zucht.

She compared the same week from 2008 when only 27 units were available. In 2007 there were 31 units advertised.

When Zucht looked at the same information for the previous week she said the numbers were similar.

The new resident restricted ownership units recently created by the WHA have impacted the rental situation, according to Zucht.

“Cheakamus Crossing and Rainbow, two new neighbourhoods in particular, that was 221 new affordable home ownership units that came onto the market that the owners took possession of in the end of September and throughout October,” said Zucht. ”Eighty per cent of those owners of those new units came out of rentals so their units have now opened up to the rental market.”

Further to that, Zucht pointed out that the completion of a brand new WHA rental building recently brought another 55 units to the market.

The WHA statistics show that landlords are advertising lower rates this year compared to last year.

According to Zucht, the average monthly rent for a studio is being advertised at $1,072 and last year the average price for a studio was $1,370.

“Likewise a two bedroom is $1,930 compared to in 2009 a two bedroom for $2,375,” she said.

Zucht also said the WHA still has rental units available and by December the WHA rental inventory is usually all occupied.

No Whistler landlords with advertised units would speak on the record about their experience in trying to rent out homes and suites. Many confirmed that finding renters this season is more challenging than it has been in the past.

Jas Binpal, who owns in Pemberton, said he started advertising a suite four weeks ago.

“People have looked at it or got more information but I haven’t actually got anyone to rent it,” he said.

Pemberton hostel owner Hollie Davis said she hasn’t seen the overflow from Whistler that she saw in previous years. She owns the Holly Park Hostel on Clover Road and said to make ends meet she has been driving taxi full-time in Whistler because the number of guests staying at her hostel is way down.

“I have only one Christmas booking,” she said.

Davis said she normally gets three or four calls a day at this time of year. The calls aren’t coming so she said she is thinking about renting the upper floor of the hostel to a long-term client.

According to Zucht, the abundance of rental units is a good thing for those who are new to the resort and looking for accommodation.