Posted on 25 June 2019
Buying ski real estate in France presents with it, many choices that often, confuse buyers rather than helps them. The golden rule always is that the head, not the heart, should lead the way. For example, when it comes to location, opt for practicality.
You may have happy memories of a French ski resort or love a restaurant there. However, if the airport access is better at another, cherished memories should take a back seat. Buying real estate is about much more than that, though, if you want to make a sound investment that will increase in value.
So, in this article, we aim to give buyers an introduction to the market, and what conditions should they consider to make sure their purchase is a wise one?
Buying Ski Real Estate in France
Off-Plan and New-build Property
An irresistible combination of first-class skiing, world-class resorts and accessibility ensure year after year, France remains the most popular destination for British skiers. From areas like Portes du Soleil and Three Valleys to smaller snow-sure resorts like La Rosiere where skiers swoop across to Italy, it has everything.
For those of us who want a permanent alpine base allowing us to get our powdery fix whenever we choose, there is no shortage of options throughout the region, whatever your budget. House hunters can snap up affordable apartments in purpose-built resorts of great convenience like Flaine and Les Arcs, or splash out on multi-million-pound chalets in popular luxurious locations such as Val d’Isère and Courchevel.
However, the growth of new-build apartments and implementation of associated infrastructure projects, rather than the archetypal chalets leads the surge in sales volumes on the slopes. A prime example of one such a project is the Mille8 in Les Arcs, which has re-invented the après-ski experience.
Sometimes, this modern take on alpine living even allows owners who rent to enjoy attractive VAT rebates, saving 20% off the purchase price. Let us look at some new-build Alpine developments.
Alpe d’Huez: Home to Europe’s longest black slope and just 90 minutes from Grenoble airport, Alpe d’Huez is revelling in large-scale investment linking the resort with Les Deux Alpes, creating the third-largest ski domain by 2020.
£129 million plumbed into lift improvements doubled the area to 280 miles, and a staggering £172 million will fund accommodation development. For a little over £275,000, a new one-bedroom apartment near restaurants, shops, and bars on Avenue des Jeux, enjoys unbeatable ski-in-ski-out access.
Les Arcs: Les Arcs, made up of four modern, purpose-built, traffic-free, apartment-dominated resorts: Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950 and Arc 2000, offers fantastic skiing opportunities in the Paradiski area, which combines Les Arcs & neighbouring La Plagne, joined by the Vanoise Express cable car – the world’s biggest, longest and fastest cable car. £260,000 will buy you a one-bedroom new-build apartment near the Arc 1600 funicular station, heading to charming Bourg-Saint-Maurice in just 7 minutes.
Samoens: The attractive 13th-century village of Samoens is a breath of fresh mountain air compared to pricey big French resorts like Chamonix and Val d’Isère. An hour by car from Geneva, this ancient village, famed for its stonemasons, is part of the Grand Massif domain and is connected to high-altitude, snow-sure Flaine.
Peppered with beautiful period Savoyard chalets, Samoens also offers a range of very popular new-build developments keeping with the town’s traditional charms. £245,000 buys a one-bedroom apartment, located 400m outside the village.
Back Door Resorts: Affordable Ski Properties
France has some of the best ski resorts in the world, yet for some people, skiing is “something rich people do.” Maybe it is all those photos of young Royals and celebrities creating the wrong impression.
To purchase a French or Swiss Alps home, a “backdoor resort” is one where you ski the same mountains as the people living in squillion-euro chalets but return to the more affordable property. Now any British property buyer can share the slopes with Alpine elite.
If Courchevel or Meribel breaks your budget, consider Les Menuires near the Three Valleys, where new-build apartments sell for £250,000.
Tignes-Les-Brevieres, 12 kilometres up the road from exclusive Val d’Isère, is light years away in terms of property prices. A two-bedroom apartment in Tignes is as little as £470,000 compared to Val where some chalets value in at €17 million.
The rise of affordable backdoor Alpine resorts sparked a revival in the French resort property market. British buyers bought more many new-build apartments in Samoens this summer, where apartment prices start at just £245,000.
Hunting for value does not mean compromising on slopes and amenities. These new-build developments compliment a surge in infrastructure projects. With resorts spending millions of euros upgrading lifts, pistes and leisure complexes to match the growing demand for mid-market properties.
For example, the €36 million mini-resort, Mille8 opened in Les Arcs in February 2016. This ground-breaking project created a family-friendly resort-within-a-resort, complete with new nursery slopes, toboggan runs, swimming pool, spa, gym, and restaurant.
With Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish showing Frenchmen how to go up a mountain, British buyers have also embraced the year-round appeal of French resorts. The increased interest in cycling has been another spur to mountain homes. Buying an alpine paradise, is to own a holiday home for all seasons, one that you can rent out for many more weeks than the average seaside resort.
Outdoor enthusiasts adore the Alps in summer. Whether you are seeking adventurous activities like mountain biking or a more relaxing pace of life bathed in sunshine, in a perfect environment, the Alps has it all.
So, go off-piste when searching for French and Swiss Alps dream retreats. Explore the increasing number of backdoor resorts for a chance to own a brand-new property on the slopes, without giving up skiing experiences.
Real Estate Market Conditions: Is Now the Right Time to Buy?
Buyers looking for a French ski home can look forward to some great value deals. Including exciting new developments popping up in popular French resorts, it is easy to see why now could be an ideal time to buy an Alpine chalet or apartment.
In Les Gets, part of the Portes du Soleil area and a short drive from Geneva Airport, new property developments had been scarce in recent years, because of a need to upgrade the drainage systems and water supply there. However, with upgrades complete, a greater variety of new properties are becoming available around the resort.
The 54th anniversary of Portes du Soleil makes this an even more exciting time to buy a home in Les Gets or another resort forming part of this famous area, including Chatel, Avoriaz or Morzine.
There are exciting opportunities in Tignes Les Brevieres, an Espace Killy domain resort, that has long been popular for its flexible leaseback investment with the British market. Another exciting development in Tignes is the €150-million transformation of Tignes Les Boisses, which includes the brand new eco-friendly Kalinda Village.
Kalinda has views of Mont Blanc, is a four-star development of ski-in-ski-out apartments and hotel, where facilities include a relaxation and fitness area with an adult-only swimming pool, a children’s pool, an ESF creche, plus a range of shops and services in the village heart.
Meanwhile, one resort tipped as a potential year-round hot spot is Samoens, after Club Med, having shunned several other French Alpine locations, opened a five-star Trident Club there. Sitting within the Grand Massif area, the third biggest French Alps area, a gondola lifts skier from Samoens to slopes in just eight minutes, and a six-seater chairlift takes them even higher in just 12 minutes. This means skiers reach an altitude of 2,100 metres in just over 20 minutes.
Viewing Ski Apartments and Chalets for Sale
When house hunting, look further than the property. Get a feel for the area and whether it is what you are dreaming of. Some ski property house-hunters prefer to go in summer when travelling is cheaper and more accessible, and before setting off to view, keep a few things in mind.
Consider the neighbourhood and surrounding area. what is the village/town/city like? Can you get to shops, amenities, and services?
Look at the time and distance it takes to get there. Is there a choice of airports in case one is closed by the weather or airline arrangements change? Could you take the ski train or drive?
How rentable are the property and the resort? Should personal circumstances change, and you want to rent it out a later stage.
Traditional French or more international? Do you want a more traditional French ski resort and community, or somewhere popular with other expats that offer a multi-cultural ambience?
Do you have access to a deposit? If you find something perfect for you, can you proceed straight away? Having an account already open with a currency transfer specialist like Smart Currency Exchange means accessing money fast and getting a better exchange rate than banks offer.
Buy-to-let Real Estate Investments
Since mountain resorts are popular destinations all year round, ski property is an even bigger money-spinner than rental property in seaside resorts. Letting out ski property is not just for winter. In spring the mountains come alive with wildflowers, and the melting snow rushes down in dramatic torrents and waterfalls – fantastic for canyoning, kayaking or just country walking.
In summer, the high altitude and the opportunity for outdoor activities suits those who do not want to roast on a beach. Even in autumn, mountains have a unique appeal, for leaf peepers and wildlife watchers, as they prepare for the snows once again.
Subsidise ski properties with holiday lets?
Word of mouth advertising is by far the best way to get clients, so equip the property with top-notch bathrooms, kitchens, and furnishings. Remember individual needs of property rentals too, plenty of ski storage, sound heating systems, and quality towels and bedding.
Keep it legal. Before buying, visit the local town hall to inform them of your intention to let. They will advise you of local rules and advise on pricing. Make sure insurance policies cover holiday lets.
Last, promote your property with professionalism. Repeat customers are worth their weight in gold. Make a website and remember obvious customers like family, friends, and colleagues.
How to Buy a Ski Apartment or Chalet
To start your search for Ski real rstate in France, browse through our listings of apartments and chalets for sale. Each one includes photos, property description, location information and an enquiry form to find out more. Also, call our international property office if you want to speak to a sales representative about investing in French real estate.