Ongoing Brexit negotiations might have dampened some British buyers’ dreams of investing in Europe, but the Alpine ski property market appears to fare just as well as ever. In fact, in the past 3-4 years we observed a constant demand for alpine properties at Home Hunts – paired with a steady price increase every year.
Concerns over global warming, however, seem to have had more of an impact on prospective buyers’ priorities: the need for longer skiing seasons means that higher resorts are starting to rise in popularity, and an increasing number of buyers are starting to look for homes they can use or rent all year around -even during the summer. Interestingly, these new factors are leading to the emergence of new hotspots that had been relatively unknown to British buyers in the past.
One such example is the town of Megève in the French Alps, which offers a longer skiing season than most resorts and whose many boutiques cater to a high-end clientele. The town is quickly becoming popular with investors, especially as it is home to numerous events centred around its many cycling paths and 18-hole golf course.
Megève also benefits from its exceptional location, being located only 90 minutes away from Annecy and two hours away from Lyon, and it offers the shortest driving time to the nearest airport of all the alpine resorts – two factors which can make a major difference for buyers looking to rent or occupy their home only part of the year.
The town is also undergoing numerous improvements to its skiing domain, fuelling the steady price increase we are currently observing. As part of this over €85m was invested in new gondolas and snow cannons to help lengthen the season, and we’re seeing that the boosted potential rental return is starting to attract more investors.
Also emerging is the town of Chamonix, whose 2.5 million visitors per year (of which about half come during the summer) guarantee a strong potential rental return. Like Megève, the town is currently undergoing major modernisation works and has already committed to a €477 million plan over the next 40-years. This already had a clear impact on the market: we saw prices going up by 2.3 percent in the 12 months leading to June 2018.
It’s also worth noting that recent changes to the local urban planning regulations in Chamonix now allow for planning permission calculations to be based on the footprint of the building as opposed to the total floor area. This makes Chamonix quite popular with prospective buyers, and we often recommend the area for those wishing to rent out. Buyers can have a very good return on investment in the town- one of our clients has for example bought 6 properties in the area, and we find that all of them make a great income all year around.
Of course, better known locations are still very much on the buyers’ map. Verbier in Switzerland remains one of the most sought-after locations in the Alps, and this is particularly true with our British, Dutch and Scandinavian clients. Buyers are often attracted to the vibrant celebrity scene and exclusive nature of the area, especially as discretion is key in Verbier. This can make a difference as I have found that buying in the Alps is often a community affair, with many prospective buyers opting to buy in a resort that they know well or might have stayed in in the past.
Verbier also has a very international feel thanks to a wide range of world class restaurants, pubs and bars and its prestigious international school St. George’s, which makes it particularly attractive for investors looking to rent to affluent clients from all over the world.
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