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British buyers in the French Alps increasingly choose leaseback

Posted on 21 October 2014

The popularity of leaseback ski properties in the French Alps has been fuelled by the growing numbers of British buyers who are turning their backs on outright purchase and opting instead for ownership of managed apartments in résidences de tourisme, which gives them both private use and a rental income.

A leading developer said in October that interest in leaseback property is rising, so that more than 70 per cent of the properties it sells in the French Alps each year are now leaseback – many to British people.

Typical British clients are Christine Birch (53) and her IT consultant partner Steve O’Carroll (54) who live near Horsham in West Sussex. They spent a couple of years looking at ski-in, ski-out properties to buy outright. Then Steve read a newspaper article about a leaseback resort and went to visit.

‘‘When we found that we could buy a three-bedroom apartment for the price we would have to pay for a two-bed elsewhere, we decided that this was the place for us and our six grown-up children,” said Christine. “Steve and I were also attracted by the convenience of the leaseback arrangement; the buying process is very easy and management and lettings are taken care of for us.”

Christine and Steve love the fact that there is much more than skiing on offer in their resort, Val Cenis, which is popular all year round. For that reason they chose a leaseback scheme which gives them four weeks of personal use of their apartment – two in the winter season and two in the summer. They can also use their property for an extra 28 days a year in the periods when the spa and other résidence facilities are closed for annual maintenance.

These include part of the summer, when temperatures can reach as much as 40 degrees Celsius. Activities on offer locally include tennis, archery, mini golf, kayaking and pony riding. Hikers, bikers and horse-riders can discover quiet valley roads, mountain paths and undulating vineyards as well as lakeside scenery and breath-taking alpine panoramas.

Christine and Steve are relaxed about enjoying their property during the most popular periods – at the height of the ski season, including Christmas, New Year, Easter and half-term – without losing out financially. This is because annual rental income, paid to owners twice a year, is guaranteed.

“It not only covers all the running costs but, at the end of each year, we have a few thousand extra euros in our pockets,” concluded Christine.