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Why pay more stamp duty in the UK when you can pay no VAT in the French Alps?

Posted on 21 January 2016

Property investors unwilling to pay the imminent higher rate of stamp duty levied on a UK buy-to-let or second home should consider purchasing a French ski home instead, said Skiingproperty.com in January.

From April 2016, a ski home in an established French resort will become an even more attractive alternative to a second home in the UK, thanks to cheap euro mortgages, strong rental demand, strictly controlled development and France’s buyer-friendly leaseback scheme.

“On top of the hike in stamp duty, the Government is slashing the amount of interest relief available on mortgages for second homes, undermining further the appeal of investing in UK property other than your main residence,” said Julian Walker, director at Skiingproperty.com. “As for alternative investment options, such as the stock market or bonds, these are equally unappealing right now. A carefully planned leaseback purchase in the French Alps is a safe way to invest in a lifestyle property that delivers a few weeks of skiing each year with a fixed annual return that should cover running costs. And in stark contrast to the increasing cost of buying a second home in the UK, a new French leaseback property incurs no VAT!”

The strength of the French ski property market was outlined by Knight Frank’s latest ‘Ski Property Report 2015’, which confirmed annual price growth in key resorts, including Val d’Isère (5.8 per cent) and Méribel (4.5 per cent), and highlighted that the number of sales completed in Megève in the first six months of 2015 was more than double the number of sales during the whole of 2014. By contrast, none of the Swiss resorts in the report recorded positive annual price growth during 2015.

British buyers can also benefit from ongoing cheap mortgages available from French banks. Repayment deals with a loan-to-value of 70-85 per cent and interest rate of 2-3 per cent, depending on the length of the term, are currently available to foreign buyers.

Skiingproperty.com’s listings include one to three-bedroom leaseback apartments in Les Arcs, with access to a swimming pool and Spa, available from €157,000 and offering annual returns of up to 4.1 per cent depending on the amount of personal use required. Les Arcs is connected to Paradiski, one of the largest ski areas in the world. Another leaseback option is an apartment complex in the popular dual-season resort of Flaine, part of the Grand Massif ski area, where units start from €154,554 and deliver annual returns of up to 4.2 per cent.