experts: real estate column Sunday, December 13, 2009

Zeroing In On Ski Resorts

Here are my (totally biased) favourite resorts, both for investing and for playing.

By Ozzie Jurock

We have often advised readers to buy in ski resorts, as long as they have "two legs" - summer and winter uses, with golf courses, lakes and recreational activities other than just skiing. We also like resorts that have more than just a parking lot and a lift. We like to see that money has been spent. Having said that, here are my (totally biased) favourite resorts, both for investing and for playing.

Most Olympic cities (e.g, Calgary, Salt Lake City, etc.) experienced a surge in value following the original announcement that they were awarded the Olympics, but then, in the three years leading up to the Olympics and from one to three years following the Olympics events, real estate prices declined or stayed even. It has been no different at Whistler pre-2010 where, for instance, Phase 2 condos are priced the same as they were in 2003. Prices have indeed reversed or stayed even (depending on the product) and a bottom may be building. This year, or right after the Olympics may be a great time to buy - with caution. It is, after all, the premier North American resort, with fabulous snow and world class facilities.

Kimberley

Disclaimer: I own a good amount of real estate here. If you are tired of the "international jet set" resort and want a quaint small town, this Rockies hideaway may be it. Ski down with your flare on New Year's Eve, have the kids go on dog sleds and hay rides and buy an "older" condo from $90,000. The fabulous Trickle Creek golf course is just one of three in town and between Fernie and Kimberley there are eight courses. Radium Hot Springs (nothing like sitting in a hot spring with snow on your head) is an hour away.

Fernie

About an hour from Kimberley, the slightly more expensive and more built-up Fernie Alpine Resort has been a great investment for early investors. Here you have a more "fall line" skiing environment than Kimberley's glade skiing (although Kimberley has one of the longest quads in B.C.). Both are serviced by the new airport in Cranbrook (which just saw the opening of the pristine Shadow Mountain Golf Course), only 20 minutes away.

Revelstoke

Sued by golf course designer Nick Faldo earlier this year and taken over (reluctantly) by the Gaglardi family of Vancouver's Northland Properties Corp., troubled Revelstoke Mountain Resort has one thing going for it this season: It has been named the fifth best ski hill in North America by U.S.-based Skiing magazine, which ranked Revelstoke ahead of Aspen and Telluride in Colorado and Big Sky, Montana (Whistler was first). Northland sold $l40 million in real estate last season, and president Tom Gaglardi remains positive, even though he concedes there isn't the demand for $1-million building lots there once was. More than $100 million has been spent on the resort in its first two years, and additions include two new ski lifts.

Sun Peaks

A great family mountain - easily accessible from Vancouver, a fine l8-hole golf course (and nearby Kamloops adds five great golf courses) and superb skiing.

Whichever area you buy in, do your research, hire a quality local realtor and go stay in the resort for a few days to get a feel for it. B.C. has another dozen or so mountains that I love to ski - alas, space doesn't permit.

West Coast Homes & Design Winter, 2009

Ozzie Jurock, FRl, is president of Jurock Publishing Ltd. and the Jurock Real Estate Insider (Jurock.com) and is known as one of Canada's leading business motivators. You can reach him by email at: oz@jurock.com or look him up at www.ozziejurock.com.




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