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Interior ski resorts see busy real estate sales

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September 06, 2020 - 7:00 AM

It appears the real estate market in the Interior is ignoring the financial implications of the pandemic as realtors selling properties in some of the regions ski resorts report strong sales.

Royal LePage Kelowna realtor Gary Turner said his August sales at Big White were the second-best in the last 15 years.

"The common thread I'm seeing is a desire for activity and a desire for a secure bubble," Turner told

Turner said it's worth keeping it in perspective that a year's worth of sales in Big White can be equivalent to a slow week in Kelowna, but he was still surprised to see so many sales in what would ordinarily be a slow month. Normally sales at Big White start in the fall, with buyers keen to be established by the beginning of the ski season.

"Our sales are somewhere between 140 and 165 in a 12-month period," he said. "So when we get a month like we had last month where there were 16 sales, it's really big news."

With the exception that the sales are going to B.C. residents, it's hard to pinpoint the demographic who are purchasing the properties and Turner says it's "a little bit of everybody."

And Big White isn't the only Interior ski resort seeing strong summertime sales.

Sun Peaks Resort realtor Lark Frolek-Dale says she's busier than she was pre-COVID.

"We're seeing multiple offers situations, prices selling over asking, we've seen people buying sight unseen, cash offers," Frolek-Dale said. "It's selling as quick as it's coming on the market."

Frolek-Dale said about 50 per cent of her sales are to people moving to Sun Peaks permanently, a higher number than usual.

"People are now recognizing how easy it is to work from home, we're seeing an influx of people coming from the larger urban areas where there is more space and a sense of safety," she said.

And while most buyers are coming from the Lower Mainland, she has had people relocate from as nearby as Kamloops.

Realtor Don Kassa has spent every winter in SilverStar for the last 30 years and said the real estate market at the ski resort is highly unpredictable.

"There are no approved buying patterns at SilverStar... every year is different," he said. "One year at the Easter break we sold seven vacant lots and the next year at the Easter break we didn't sell any."

Kassa said he expects there'll be increased interest after the Labour Day long weekend.

Because the pandemic will prevent the large number of foreign owners who head to the resorts each year for a few weeks and rent their places the remaining time, more rentals may come on the market, which could theoretically see rental prices go down. However, Frolek-Dale said she's just rented a place at Sun Peaks for a month over Christmas, to a couple who would ordinarily go south for the winter.

With Canada reportedly in a recession, it would seem that second homes and ski vacations would be the first to go. That doesn't appear to be happening.

"COVID continues to change and evolve our lives and our behaviours and I think this another example of our capacity to adapt," Turner said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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