Located 75 miles north of Vancouver, Whistler is a beautiful town that is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Even though it is a quiet place, it attracts enough fans of skiing and other tourists to make short-term vacation rental businesses here viable. In the article, we will review all the sides to launching an Airbnb business in Whistler, allowing you to make an informed decision about it.
Main Benefits of Choosing Whistler for Airbnb Business
The strongest benefit of Whistler in terms of launching a short-term vacation rental business there is the stability it offers. On the one hand, there is a large number of Airbnbs for such a small town. But on the other hand, when you look at the performance of active properties, you understand that the inflow of visitors covers the supply.
For tourists, it is a great destination. The most popular activity here is skiing, as the town is located among several mountains. The seasonality of demand is an issue here, although the rates are rather high, which allows local entrepreneurs to survive. The interesting fact is that the performance of Airbnbs in Whistler is better than in Vancouver, where the hosts averagely earn $2,728 worth of monthly revenues.
The peak of Whistler’s popularity was when the 2010 Olympic Winter Games were held in Canada. By that time, Whistler was already a rather developed region: it was home to the 1972 Olympic Winter Games, and it already had all the basic infrastructure. The recent games have granted the city worldwide popularity, and several outstanding venues were built for the events. Combined with the beautiful natural sights, it becomes a great place for visiting.
Even though the games took place more than 10 years ago, the city has got the most out of them and is still using the momentum it gained then. Today, fans of skiing from all around the world are considering it as one of the best destinations, while getting a short-term rental unit for a quick stay seems like a reasonable solution.
Discover the top 5 vacation rentals in Whistler.
Key Metrics of Active Airbnbs in Whistler
Speaking of revenues and other metrics that allow to assess the performance of rental enterprises, there is enough data publicly available for Whistler. At the time of writing, there are around 2,800 active rentals in the city. Taking into account the small area of Whistler, it implies a rather intense competition: other properties will always be around. The vast majority of listings here are Entire Homes, which is the result of local legislation. Most properties have two bedrooms and can accept up to six guests.
This results in an interesting shift in Occupancy Rates throughout the year. In November, the demand reaches its minimum, and the Occupancy Rates drop all the way down to 37%. However, in August, they usually reach 86%. The annual average Occupancy Rate here is 62%, which means the properties recover from the demand drops in November rather quickly.
The Average Daily Rate in Whistler is rather high: it averages $263 throughout the year. It reaches its peak of $404 in December and its lowest point of $198 in October. This demonstrates that the highest rates throughout the year are not relevant for too long, but the average results are still great.
The two previous factors combined result in an average annual Revenue of $3,529 per month. As we have already mentioned, it is almost $800 more than what is earned by hosts in Vancouver. The peak of Revenues also happens in December, where entrepreneurs in Whistler manage to earn $6,076 worth of monthly Revenue.
All in all, the seasonality is quite interesting in Whistler. In contrast to some other regions that are popular during one specific time of the year, properties in Whistler receive two peaks of demand annually: in December and in August. Even though the town is already densely packed with properties, there is still room for new entrepreneurs entering the market.
Laws and Regulations of Airbnb Business in Whistler
There are two main regulations the host needs to comply with in order to operate in Whistler. Firstly, it is necessary to have a property that matches the specific criteria stated by the city administration. Secondly, the entrepreneur has to obtain a license to conduct and advertise their enterprise online, even on platforms like Airbnb.
With the first point, there should be no issues. If you’re considering an investment, you just have to make sure the property is in Phase I Zoning. Those are units that are allowed for renting out and they are typically located in non-hotel complexes.
Thankfully, modern real estate platforms have a corresponding filter for you to easily find the properties that match this criterion. In case you cannot find such a tool, you can still always ask the seller about the type of property before you purchase it. It is important, as residential properties are not allowed to advertise online. It is still possible to rent them out via the Home Run program, but you won’t be able to list such a property on Airbnb.
The license is required to conduct such business as well. The process of getting one will be described in the following section, and here we will focus on the legislation surrounding it. The main rule you will need to take into account relates to displaying the license number in your advertisements. It is necessary to post your number in your Airbnb listing, in order for the authorities to know you’re a licensed entrepreneur. The authorities are rather strict with unlicensed rentals, and there is a fine of $1,000 per day for operating without a license.
How to Get a License in Whistler?
The process of obtaining the license itself is not as difficult. In fact, it is rather straightforward: you just fill out an application, pay a fee, and wait for approval. The application form is available on the official website of Whistler authorities, and it is only a single-page document, where you need to enter the details about your property and yourself.
Even though it is easy to apply, you should know some details before you do so. Firstly, there is an application fee of $25 for all new properties. It is a non-reimbursable fee, meaning, if you are denied a license, you won’t have it back. The license fee itself is $190 with an additional $25 charged for every guest unit. The license is active for one year, and will be automatically renewed unless you opt out. Note that the license fee is charged annually, so it is not a one-time payment.
Taxation of Airbnbs in Whistler
Just like in most other regions of Canada, there are two taxes that Airbnb entrepreneurs have to pay: The Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and The Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT). These taxes in Whistler are 8% and 2% correspondingly. The best part of choosing Airbnb as your rental platform is that it collects these taxes for you. They will be automatically charged, and you will be able to see them in the breakdowns.
Even though ten percent is a significant portion of income, the taxation in Whistler is rather mild. You won’t need to perform any additional manual operations to pay the taxes, which is already great: you will have more time to manage the property.
More about Airbnb taxation in Vancouver read here.