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Kamloops, Kelowna ski chalets selling as vacation homes, not rental units

Sun Peaks
Sun Peaks

The world of ski hill real estate has changed drastically through COVID.

In the years prior to COVID, many people bought units at ski hills as an investment to rent out and use only occasionally themselves.

“We had very good sales over the pandemic,” Re/Max Kelowna realtor Jesse East, who focuses on Big White sales, told “We went from completely dead when COVID first started to very busy with people buying their own vacations.”

That means many homes that were once in the rental pool are now used by owners and their families instead.

East has two duplex listings in the Featherstone development for more than $1.5 million each. Two others and a single-family unit have already sold.

There is not much available in either resale or the new-build market, although construction has doubled this year compared to last.

“Part of it is that the interest keeps growing but the building on the mountain has not kept up,” East said.

Building permits were issued for 44 units at Big White by the end of September, compared to 27 for all of last year and only 11 the year before.

At Sun Peaks, permits for 52 units were issued. That’s down from 2021 when 72 units – including 46 multi-family – were built. But, it's more than double the 23 built in 2020.

“The projects that were announced over the last two years have all sold out immediately or very close to immediately,” Bill Hanrahan, a realtor with Re/Max Alpine Resort Realty at Sun Peaks, told

There, too, there are few units available and they’re selling well, he said.

To build new can take up to two years and some of these are not small chalets. East knows of a couple at Big White currently under construction that are more than 6,000 square feet and one, built a couple of years ago, that was in the 10,000 square foot range.

A recent HM Commercial real estate report shows one 0.9 acre lot at Big White that recently sold for $2.5 million.

Many of the buyers in both locations are local or from the Lower Mainland but they’re also coming in from Ontario. Sun Peaks is seeing buyers from Australia and Washington State as well.

And these are often a different type of buyer than those who are more hesitant in the valley bottoms.

“It’s not uncommon for somebody to show up and tell me they want to spend 500 grand and then they buy for a million, million-and-a-half,” East said. “That’s not an unusual thing.”

Buyers down in the valley are more likely to look at something in the $800,000 range and maybe go to $850,000 or realize they can only afford $600,000, he said.

“Big White’s the opposite of that,” East said. “People up there are shopping for their vacations. It’s a very different buyer mentality. It feels like they’re shopping for boats. ‘Is it going to make us money?’ Maybe not. ‘OK, fine we’ll take it.'”

READ MORE: Construction booming in Kamloops, Okanagan as real estate market slows

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