Whitehorse Daily Star

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Denny Kobayashi

High demand sees real estate prices spiral

Buying a home in Whitehorse and the Yukon has become substantially more difficult to do in the last year.

By Whitehorse Star on August 27, 2021

Buying a home in Whitehorse and the Yukon has become substantially more difficult to do in the last year.

The latest real estate numbers show the average price of a home in the city is now just over $650,000.

That marks an increase of more than $100,000 since 2020.

It’s also a jump of $60,000, or 10.2 per cent, compared to the first quarter of 2021 ($590,700).

That’s more than enough to cause ripples of concern throughout the territory.

Denny Kobayashi, a spokesperson for the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, was one of those people saying it’s not good news for people.

He told the Star it isn’t surprising, but he was taken aback by just how much real estate prices have rocketed upward.

He called the issue one of the biggest challenges currently facing the Yukon.

Kobayashi said he has been hearing about the issue from a variety of businesses.

It’s difficult enough to recruit workers, he said, but the lack of housing is resulting in people turning down job offers because they simply can’t find a suitable place to live.

He mentioned one non-governmental organization that had recently hired a person to fill a senior position.

The new hire was forced to turn it down shortly thereafter because they couldn’t find a place to live.

Marc Perrault, the president of the Yukon Real Estate Board, said the figures are a bit deceiving.

“We know what the cause is. Demand is outstripping supply,” Perrault told the Star.

However, he suggested the market is being distorted somewhat by two main factors.

First, he said there are people moving to the territory from points south to take new employment who are willing and able to spend more than the recommended 40 per cent of their income on housing.

That’s helping to drive up the prices of higher-end homes.

That’s leading to offers coming in over the asking and market price, Perrault said. In effect, there are bidding wars happening, but only over some properties.

Second, Perrault said, there’s another subset of people moving to the Yukon to retire.

They’re often flush with money from the sales of their homes wherever they’re coming from, and can also afford to pay more than market rates.

Perrault said he sees both of these scenarios as hugely influencing real estate prices, but he insisted “that’s not the real market.”

The Yukon is basically a tiny market, and even a few real estate deals closing over market prices can have a sizeable impact on overall numbers that’s disproportionate to what’s actually happening, he said.

“That’s for a smaller number of homes, but it’s really distorting the picture of what’s going on,” Perrault emphasized. “It’s not an accurate view of the market, though.”

Another factor driving the red-hot market is simply the movement of people into the Yukon.

The territory is viewed as a desirable location, and it’s always been stable economically, he said.

He called the lure of the Yukon as being “de-urbanization”, although of course most people will end up in Whitehorse.

Perrault said he doesn’t see the market cooling off any time soon, but he’s confident eventually it will adjust.

According to the report, in the second quarter of 2021, the total value of real estate transactions in the Yukon was $129.9 million: $106.7 million in Whitehorse and $23.1 million for the rest of Yukon.

• The average sale price of a single-detached house in Whitehorse was $650,700, a record-high and an increase of $103,900, or 19.0 per cent, from the second quarter of 2020 ($546,800).

• The average condo sale price in Whitehorse was $457,700, an increase of $44,900, or 10.9 per cent, from the second quarter of 2020.

A total of 91 single-detached houses were sold, an increase of 15 compared to the second quarter of 2020.

• There were 54 condo sales, a decrease of 18 compared to the second quarter of 2020.

• The average condo price was $457,700, an increase of $44,900, or 10.9 per cent, compared to the second quarter of 2020 ($412,800).

• Eleven mobile homes were sold at an average price of $371,300, also a record-high.

• Five duplexes were sold at an average price of $476,200, a record-high.

The average country residential property sold for $780,000 in the second quarter, up from $639,000 a year earlier.

Nine commercial properties were sold at a value totalling $6.6 million.

Comments (35)

Up 4 Down 0

The realtor isn't wrong on Sep 2, 2021 at 3:35 pm

People are moving here - Yukon has one of the best health care plans for seniors, and they're moving here to be with their kids/grandkids after selling off their houses elsewhere. Lots of folks are staying here after retirement, which means their houses don't go on the market. Toronto/Vancouver younger families are cashing out, and selling their condos for 600k or more, and buying single-family homes here. There are a lot of factors at play, but short story is that supply isn't keeping up with demand, and the City is STILL charging market value for lots (rather than cost-plus, as it did up until 2006). And it's not just government workers who are pulling in high wages - take a look around next time you're on a plane to a warm destination. From City of Whitehorse Land Disposition Policy (the whole thing is worth a read) "The City has several options on how to dispose of land. The process selected will depend on the type, size, zoning and servicing of the lot. Lots will be sold at market value unless otherwise directed by Council, in a manner that will allow all interested parties an equal opportunity to purchase a lot"

Up 9 Down 5

bonanzajoe on Aug 31, 2021 at 9:44 pm

Patti Eyre: Karl Marx would be proud of you.

Up 10 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Aug 31, 2021 at 5:27 pm

Some seem to believe that business people have some responsibility to ensure affordability in home sales. That's not their job- that's government's job by ensuring all the ingredients for a healthy housing sector are in place.
Harken back to 2015 and all the promises the Trudeau Liberals made towards improving the housing situation across the country. Pretty thin soup so far and I don't think much will be accomplished in under three weeks before Justin gets turfed out, but he can repeat all the promises yet undelivered.

Up 12 Down 1

The payments on Aug 31, 2021 at 1:23 pm

Goodness me.

$546,800 in 2020 at 3% = $2,588 monthly.
$650,700 in 2021 at 1.5% = $2,601 monthly.

Bank of Canada drops prime by 1.5% and yes, prices will rise to match the payments because Yukon's very stable government job and contract-driven incomes can afford them.

All the time money is this cheap to borrow don't expect any change.

While the sticker price may be higher, subject to a change in rates the actual cost over 25 years will be the same because you are paying so much less to the bank for interest. The cost to own a home is more than just the headline number.

Up 15 Down 4

Nobleism on Aug 31, 2021 at 11:00 am

Are we sure we want to be listening and trust the people whose career is to buy and sell housing for a profit to truthfully talk about the housing situation? Everytime I hear a real estate agent talk, they talk about how much money people can make, not how it will affect the community and price point for buyers.

Up 10 Down 11

Patti Eyre on Aug 31, 2021 at 10:12 am

Now this is truly the spirit of the Klondike! This is the new gold rush, but houses and land instead of gold. I know BonanzaJoe thinks we should all be able to go and squat wherever we feel like it, but I support planned development!

Up 13 Down 5

george on Aug 30, 2021 at 1:58 pm

@ wes...haha, there is never anyone who says I'll settle for $500,000 when they can get $ 650,000. Realtors give market values, greedy vendors say" my house is worth more".

Up 32 Down 7

By Government Design on Aug 30, 2021 at 10:21 am

This whole thing is by government design. Not the developers, real estate agents, landlords or home buyers, it's all the government's fault. They devalue our currency by over spending so cost of materials goes up (actually it's the diminishing of our purchasing power), they limit the amount of available lots to keep housing costs high so their own homes become worth more and they implement policies that increase red tape for development which slows it all down even more.
We all need to stop blaming this and that and realize that all of our problems and divisions on most if not all issues, are by government design. it's not that those in power are evil but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The more money the government promises for "affordable housing" the more costs will go up. The government doesn't have money to spend, they're living on deficits which is debt. Then they bring in large amounts of immigrants who now need housing (yay more cash cows, but no where to put them), they allow foreign investors to buy our land and capitalize off us. We're basically a commodity that the government uses to attract foreign investors at this point. If you are immigrating to this country don't become a citizen, they treat us like crap and don't give a rat what happens to their cash cows.

Up 25 Down 12

Wes on Aug 30, 2021 at 7:59 am

When you tell your realtor you’d be happy to get $500,000 and they tell you we’ll get you $650, there really isn’t any need to look any further for the source of the current high prices. Most of them are failed used car salesmen.

Up 31 Down 14

bonanzajoe on Aug 29, 2021 at 5:08 pm

NDPer: this all happened on the NDPs watch, not the Yukon Party. The NDP on their watch turned most of the Yukon over to the FN. That ended the oil and gas industry and much of mining. The NDP hates money making projects and believes they can get all their money off trees. By the way, many of those early NDP leaders are millionaires today. So much for equal sharing with the citizenry. Marxist doctrine is everybody share equally, except for the Bolsheviks.

Up 24 Down 8

Sickofhousingbs on Aug 29, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Folks - for those of you who are newly immigrated to the Yukon: first of all none of us want to be “Yukontario”. Wilf is right on the money about the housing market bottoming out! The greedy early birds who got their worms will feel their pain in the end (tons of debt and forced to sell for way less than they paid and crashed rental prices). $2700 for a one bedroom? Enjoy it while it lasts because it won’t be long!

Up 46 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Aug 29, 2021 at 10:32 am

Buy low & sell high - what's the mystery? The lack of available land is the primary reason we are in this situation, and not everybody wants to live in the ghetto known as Whistlebend which has become a testament to lazy community planning. I am wondering how long before the giant housing developments are proposed for Whitehorse, the ones that look like stacks of rabbit cages like they have in China. 6000 people all living on a two acre plot that reaches to the skies.

Up 24 Down 31

Marxist NDP'er on Aug 28, 2021 at 8:16 pm

@bonanzajoe

The Marxist NDP ... LOL.
Last I checked the NDP haven't won an election in the territory since 2000.
So you only have your precious Yukon Party to blame for most of what's happened since then.

Up 20 Down 12

drum on Aug 28, 2021 at 6:48 pm

This is disgusting. Someone is manipulating this and making mega bucks and it is not me. How can young people get a start or does anyone in the Yukon care just as long as they make money. The more a house sells for, the bigger the real estate person gets. Enough said.

Up 45 Down 5

Not a mystery on Aug 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm

I had planned to build a 4-plex this past summer. I was quoted $350 to $400 per foot, and that's just the build, not the lot value or services, and not including appliances. The person told me residential building is costing the customer the same or more as government and high end commercial did just a very few years ago.
I decided to hold off.

Housing and access to medical care, a doctor and long term care is a problem in many if not most jurisdictions across Canada. At least the main centers. Meanwhile, Trudeau is raising our immigration levels to never before seen highs. Almost half a million people a year. And Singh wants to remove caps on 'family reunification', meaning people residing in Canada will be able to sponsor their parents and grandparents and maybe others, to join them here. This is completely irresponsible.

Add to this, you do not even have to live in Canada to buy residences here. Canadian housing is being treating as a foreign investment by non-residents. They can buy up our farmland as well.

Canada has to start acting like a country, serving our citizens and caring for our young people instead of laying ourselves out like a platter for the rest of the people on the planet. Trudeau sees massive immigration as the answer to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by his spending, but is ignoring the other effects these levels of immigration are having on non-elite Canadians. Something he would know little about.
And Singh is prancing on his unicorn, as is the NDP way, virtue signalling while again, ignoring how this is affecting vulnerable Canadians.

I am not sure where O'Toole stands on this. My opinion obviously is that we need to reign in demand. It is causing mayhem for those with modest incomes, and a failure to launch for our young adults.

Up 29 Down 4

Dave on Aug 28, 2021 at 12:54 pm

@BonanzaJoe. When my grandfather came here in the early 50’s he was able to go in to the land titles office and apply for quite a few acres of land on a lake bordering a highway for pretty much just the cost of registering the title. To my understanding when land claims came along in the late 60’s it ended things like that, back then people were told that obtaining land was just on hold until the lands claims process was finished. However by the time land claims had finally wrapped up in the 90’s the territory had degenerated into today’s never ending bureaucracy and the thought of applying for unclaimed land had become a distant memory. We now have government selling tiny plots of crown land at market price which should never have been permitted to happen, it’s created an artificial shortage.

Up 46 Down 8

Jim on Aug 28, 2021 at 11:37 am

Good lord people. So we think that the real estate agents are the reasons why house prices are skyrocketing? I’m sure there are a bunch of people out there hiring an agent to sell their house and asking them to sell it for less. No, they want that agent to get as much as possible and will be mad if it sells too quick, thinking the price was too cheap. Do I think the fees charged for what they do are too much, absolutely. But we have property brothers or 2% realty as options. Are their prices on listings any less? It’s supply and demand. Plus the cost to build has increased astronomically along with city and government gouging on lot prices and restricting availability.
If it costs $800k to build a house, existing houses will be similar. The only thing that will reduce house prices will be when supply out paces demand. But hey, let’s blame the realtor. Don’t blame plywood at over $100 a sheet. Or lots that used to be $20k now almost $200k, with people lining up for them.

Up 34 Down 4

RR on Aug 28, 2021 at 7:55 am

Oh here we go again… the story about real estate gets all the bees buzzing like they’re the only one to see honey. Real estate is up almost all over the world. All across canada this is an issue. We can blame real estate agents, but more and more there are people selling their homes through apps or privately or telling the real estate agent they want x amount so ask for that plus your commission. So it’s a bit disingenuous to say they’re the cause of the increased cost.
Greed is at the bottom of it, the fear of missing out and the fever of wanting, nay, absolutely having a house of ones “dreams”. These are fueled by foolish television playing on peoples fickle nature (you must constantly renovate and flip! To be a millionaire). They are sustained by insurance companies willing to insure homes for a market value that is based on the “greater fool” syndrome. They are fed by banks who act as drug dealers with low interest financing and promises of payments for life with no debt relief in site.
Real Estate agents are just the symptoms of a much bigger illness, not just in major institutions, but in every household that calculates their inheritance based off the market value of their parents hard paid for home. Every household that feels they’re entitled to a $100,000 increase in value because HGTV says so. Every household that leverages itself to the extreme to get multiple homes for a chance to make a quick buck. This isn’t just a Yukon problem, it’s a world wide greed problem.

Up 30 Down 3

Sheepchaser on Aug 28, 2021 at 7:06 am

The only thing that surprises me is that everyone is so surprised.

Canadian policy only has one answer to continued economic growth: immigration. We don’t have a diverse economy. It’s resource extraction, government and human services. We don’t really have an innovation sector outside of a few subsidiaries and satellite offices of multinational players. At home, a company like Bombardier has never really been a profit centre. More tax-payer funded bailouts than real revenue. The Canadian medical establishment lauded for the Ebola vaccine failed us on COVID and the adults in that sector who are sick of being abused on the job are leaving.
Government is completely out to lunch now. All change makers have been steadily purged in favour of the false modesty of the ‘steady’ bureaucrat who went straight from university to government and had parental help for their first home purchase. When faced with any risk, even manageable risk, they become incapacitated and must form a committee to make the most basic decisions, if any at all. Canadian banks are similarly afflicted by a lack of fundamental talent and risk aversion that reaches into paranoia. So the immigration answer is the easiest and lowest hanging fruit. Just boost the numbers for a decade and it’ll all work out… right, Ottawa?

*Disclaimer: My only commentary regarding immigration here is as economic policy. All cultures welcome. Frankly, the aspirational nature of immigrants is far superior to the entitlement of about anyone born here.*

Up 37 Down 2

Nova Scotia Onlooker on Aug 28, 2021 at 6:01 am

As a non- Yukoner looking in I can say the same thing is happening here in Nova Scotia. We were fortunate for a long time in that we didn't experience large numbers of people moving here driving up housing prices but within the last few years that has changed so we're experiencing the same spiraling prices and increased demand.
Specifically it seems that the Covid pandemic coupled with being able to work remotely has triggered large numbers of Ontario residents to cash out on their million or multi million dollar homes and move here to buy for half that where they can own a home in a beautiful setting and have a tidy nest egg left over. Locals are suddenly finding themselves being squeezed out of both the rental and sales housing market and it is a big wake up call to people who had always had access to affordable housing. For example tent cities of newly homeless are springing up in Halifax which was unheard of until fairly recently.

Up 18 Down 16

Josey Wales on Aug 28, 2021 at 4:58 am

Seems very obvious to me, that there is a clear class war insitu.
Meddling ‘crats , virtue theatre and the great reset really helps inflate land costs. If you cannot see what is happening in these power tripping times, not sure what to say.
Subjugation of our citizens is a long term game.
Keeping classes in forever debt and even partaking IS the plan.

Wealth redistribution is at play, we can see where the distribution into many pockets of greedy speculators and yup...the elites both cultural and political. Ever see a homeless or actual struggling political blowhole?
I never have, but I sure see many creating great caches of personal wealth on the public dime. I see many collecting chins and arses however whilst they spew platitudes of political gibberish.
Gotta give King Dan some cred, he looks more fit leaving our hall then when entered...that is a good thing! Maybe have an apple and go for a walk ....
The whole scene makes me sick, angry and frustrated that the shells keep moving and seems few even notice or care.
Apparently we will own nothing and be happy...says fritz over the pond?

Oh yeah, good morning folks.

Up 34 Down 9

REAL Estate AGENTS need Regulating on Aug 27, 2021 at 9:35 pm

The STAR should consider investigating Real Estate Agents practices of having their partners or companies buy and hold properties, letting them sit vacant and then flipping them. These "agents" are buying properties from sellers (either direct or through their spouses, companies) then inflating and flipping. Just look at the 3 homes on Jarvis and 5th, empty for a year, then up for sale.

Yukon is one of the last places in Canada where Real Estate Agents can act for the buyers and seller at the same time.

Up 24 Down 5

Neville Jones on Aug 27, 2021 at 9:24 pm

I am sick of these high prices. Trying to save up to get out of my parents house but it's impossible to get out with prices rising so quickly.

Up 24 Down 3

jack on Aug 27, 2021 at 8:51 pm

And record low interest rates.....go figure. Hardly surprising.
The demand for the heavily discounted mortgage is driving this housing craze. You can't have one without the other. Only a fool would buy now.

Up 14 Down 13

John on Aug 27, 2021 at 8:25 pm

@jason..realtors are heavily regulated by government and the bidding wars are created by greedy vendors and foolish buyers and mostly in private sales. @ llama you must be a realtor or a lawyer or something to throw out “facts “ like that. lol

Up 40 Down 10

Mel - see ya Yukon on Aug 27, 2021 at 6:48 pm

Thanks Yukon - I bought my house just under 250,000 and sold it for 478,000. Went “down south” bought a beautiful brick home for 350,000. The Yukon has become an overpriced mecca and you have to work for the unethical government to afford it. I said no thanks I am outta here - I have a nice home and a job that I am not ashamed to be in - See ya.

Up 42 Down 17

bonanzajoe on Aug 27, 2021 at 6:04 pm

When I came here mid 70s one could build a cabin in the bush. There were lots of well paying jobs too. But the Marxist NDP put a stop to that. Now, they want everybody to "cluster live" where they can keep an eye on them. Welcome to the new world folks. By the way, when was the last time, anyone heard the phrase, "Spirit of the Klondike"?

Up 34 Down 8

BnR on Aug 27, 2021 at 5:14 pm

I don't want anyone else moving here.

Up 31 Down 2

Salt on Aug 27, 2021 at 4:31 pm

@Jason
Without government strangling supply for the last 10 years and pumping demand through government bloat and immigration, we would not be in this situation. But you are absolutely correct that some parasites are feeding off the still breathing carcass by instigating bidding wars. If that Perrault doesn't know that housing prices are set on the margin and that those "not the real market sales" absolutely impact the market, he's a fool.

Up 19 Down 3

yukongirl on Aug 27, 2021 at 4:30 pm

Houses are selling in the high 600,000's because older people have a lot of money on their hands and just want to move to the Yukon or they have a "senior" position and can simply afford it. Seriously? I don't blame people for taking what they can get when they sell their homes but who's making the money in the Yukon? Developers are over charging when they build and the various governments are charging market rates for bare land and not simply the development costs for making it available. It doesn't take a real estate agent to figure out why homes are so expensive. In 2018, Yukon Housing was costing out new builds at $250 / sq. foot. I googled it and that info comes from the YLA. The average house price at that time was $462K. The 2018 rate $250 / sq. foot is more than any other capital city in Canada with the exception of Vancouver according to Remax's 2021 figures.

https://blog.remax.ca/how-much-does-it-cost-to-build-a-house/
It's no wonder we're all getting increasingly upset with the entire housing industry in Yukon.

Up 71 Down 13

Mr Facts on Aug 27, 2021 at 4:07 pm

This guy benefits off high prices, who is he kidding? It's funny to watch these people act like they actually care about the small guy. "You will own nothing and be happy"

Up 80 Down 29

Jason on Aug 27, 2021 at 3:50 pm

REGULATE THE REALTORS IN THIS TOWN - they more than anyone are responsible for driving the prices of real estate sky high. .... These people are walking around CREATING BIDDING WARS with no government oversight because it pumps up their fat commissions. Can the government actually step in and quantify the realtors role in the market here?

Up 52 Down 12

Yukon star on Aug 27, 2021 at 3:47 pm

If they had a thing like rent to own maybe people from the Yukon could own their own home (come on, $250,000 to $450,000 for prefab home?) who from the Yukon can? Most buyers are from outside of the Yukon and from outside of Canada.They buy things up and then put up the rent.

Up 77 Down 10

Llama on Aug 27, 2021 at 3:25 pm

What a load of bull from Perrault. Show some real stats and not just anecdotal evidence that "rich retirees are coming here" or that "it's not the real market"... Why are we even asking a 'salesperson'? "Just a few" over asking?

Maybe The Star could actually fact check and look into the percentage of sales that went over asking prices in the last quarter? The fact that even mobile homes are selling at record-highs and most of those aren't even freehold...

I can't wait for the day realtors are out of existence/business as middlemen/women in real estate while they take a hefty commission on showing you around. Glorified salespeople... and don't even get me started on the practice of 'seller sub-agents' up here... A buyer is never the person the realtor is representing. It is always the seller. All you really need is a good real estate lawyer and a weekend of time to show people your home and you can save over $10K.

Up 47 Down 35

Wilf Carter on Aug 27, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Yukoners - the problem with housing but no one wants to say is the following:
governments like Yukon Federal government is not keeping up with supply and demand for serviced land in Whitehorse. Without serviced land we can't keep supply and demand level or equal as economist call it!!
There is not enough trades or contractors locally to build what we need because of lack of government planning for future needs!!!
When levels off then housing prices drop and a lot people lose their housing because they have no equity because of buying in inflated markets.
Learn from Alberta - Banks took many many houses in foreclosures because of economic drop!!!
Yukon's economy is built on a false economy which is driven by federal funding, which is going to cool off because of the destroying debt created by Yukon and liberals governments. Buckets of tax payers cash will have to go to pay for the interest and debt so services will have to be cut same as the staff in Yukon Government. Look at the mess in health care nurses leaving because of the management mess and they are leaving leaving health care workers stressed to the teeth.
Can we just cut to the real facts:
We need to sell land to developers and get them to build affordable subdivisions. Right now government is selling serviced land for $180,000 to $300,000 per lot. Government is using the housing crises to make money on land development to waste it some where else on non productive sustainable growth for Yukon's future!!! We need a land bank trust fund to rebuild for the future needs.

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