French Leaseback Ski Property: Market Guide and Resorts

Posted on 17 September 2019

For real estate investors, French leaseback ski property is an attractive option because France is the mecca of alpine homes. Prices are stable thanks to an excellent choice of ski resorts and as a popular ski holiday destination, limited opportunities for new builds and demand for holiday accommodation outstrips supply.

Property prices in France aren’t showing any great growth potential. But in fact, stability is its main appeal. French Alpine homes are never cheap, but because it attracts wealthier buyers, there are fewer people panic selling in low times and so prices hold in unstable times, making it a safe investment.

Investing in French Leaseback Ski Property

French leaseback schemes are a low-risk property investment in the global market. Skiers looking for a hassle-free way of owning an Alpine property which also generates guaranteed rental income should in a leaseback property, an ownership not available in other countries and which is exempt of VAT.

So how does it work? Investors buy a property freehold but lease it back to a professional management company. Management companies take care of all maintenance and bookings, making it a hand-off investment. Leaseback owners include in contracts a certain number of weeks’ personal use each year, from two to six weeks, split between winter and summer seasons.

French leaseback ski property

In return for leasing their property back, buyers get tax benefits, government-guaranteed rental yield, and ample usage for their own holidays. Guaranteed rental income paid with a leaseback property, is 3-5 percent and falls in line with the amount of personal use an owner receives.

Fixed leaseback contracts run for a minimum term, nine or eleven years, after which owners may have the choice to assume outright freehold ownership – buyers should check these details before committing to a purchase.

During the recent boom, French leasebacks saw their popularity wane, as other options presented possibilities for much stronger rental yields, but now as reducing risk continues to weigh on investors’ minds, leasebacks are once again seeing surging popularity.

When French Alp developers build skiing developments, or residences, such as those in Tignes and Chatel, they will allocate a certain amount of properties for leaseback purchase with the rest available for outright purchase.

Built for tourism, residences include communal facilities like lounge areas, a bar, indoor swimming pool and a spa and wellness centre. Not dissimilar to a hotel, reception deals with bookings and general enquiries about the accommodation and resort. Owners of leaseback property pay a contribution towards maintenance charges and tax foncière (council tax).

62% of alpine property buyers are buying for both lifestyle and investment reasons. This contributes to strong demand in this sector because leaseback properties offer good holiday usage in a serviced and maintained apartment, alongside government-guaranteed rental income.

Summer Rentals for Leaseback Property

While alpine ski tourism has been declining for several seasons, resorts have developed their summer offerings since the early nineties, and property owners now rent all year round in top areas. This has led to solid rental yields on good properties, even though capital appreciation has been little better than mediocre.

French developers are reporting strong interest in leaseback properties from British buyers. Part of this popularity is because the lifestyle offered by properties is a year-round, from good winter skiing to a huge variety of other activities during summer, Autumn and Spring.

summer rentals

These activities include dog sledding, and climbing frozen waterfalls during winter, while summer activities include white-water rafting, cycling, fishing, and walking, and rock climbing, giving such properties wide appeal for rental markets.

In addition, purchasers of property in such developments integrate with local people, and prices in resorts such as Samoan are a lot lower than other more well-known resorts such as Chamonix and Tignes and can be up to 25% less for comparable properties.

Another huge attraction is Britain’s proximity, as Geneva airport is only an hour’s drive away, and it is possible to travel from London in just four hours. However, the upper-end French market is still proving popular, and it draws many buyers towards the mediaeval religious of Luberon and Les Alpilles, surrounded by vineyards, lavender fields, and the region’s mountain range.

Where to Buy French Ski Real Estate?

A popular location is Chatel village, on the border with Switzerland. It is just 90 minutes’ drive from Geneva airport, and part of the world’s largest international linked ski area. It is in a region with 650 km of slopes encompassing eight French resorts, and four ski resorts in Switzerland. While popular during winter, this area has a lot to offer during summer and is becoming sought after amongst those seeking year-round holiday homes.

The French Alps are home to some world’s longest and most exciting ski runs, making them the ideal place to buy if you rank exhilarating skiing at the top of your property wish list. If this sounds like you, start your search for a ski home in, or near, Flaine, Chamonix or Alpe d’Huez.

Flaine is home to Europe’s longest blue run, the 14-kilometre Cascades piste. Starting at 2,500 metres, it includes a 1,800-metre vertical and takes in spectacular scenery with not a single lift in sight. Properties for sale in Flaine, part of the Grand Massif ski domain, include one to five-bedroom apartments available on a leaseback basis and with access to an indoor pool, and spa and wellness centre.

three valleys

Meanwhile, for more experienced skiers, Alpe d’Huez boasts of Sarenne piste, a 16-kilometre black run, stretching from Pic Blanc at 3,330 metres to Alpe d’Huez at 1,860 metres. This begins and ends with a long flatter section along the valley floor.

Saving the best till last, a great run is the 22-kilometre Vallée Blanche, accessed via the base of Chamonix from where Europe’s highest gondola takes you to the 12,605-foot Aiguille du Midi summit, in mighty Mont Blanc’s shadow. Skiing is red runs, with some off-piste, but there are more difficult black detours. Property in Vallorcine resort, Chamonix Valley and connected to the Chamonix area, would suit skiers looking for a combination of a tranquil home with exhilarating skiing, including access to exciting Vallée Blanche.

Beautiful Tignes Le Lac, France

Tignes, a well-known French Alp resort links to Val D’Isere to form the Espace Killy area and comprises three different resorts: le Lavachet, le Lac, and Val Claret.

The lowest resort is le Lavachet, while Les Lac is right beside the lake. Val Claret is 2 km further up the valley, but Les Lac is very much the centre of things and enjoys the best access to the Espace Killy area.

Skiing opportunities are excellent, there are several free lifts available for beginners and several good ski and snowboard schools. Intermediates enjoy many blue and red runs, and advanced skiers will love this resort thanks to many black runs and off-piste skiing.

Leaseback ski property

There is one Snowboard Park, over 300 km of varied terrain and 97 ski lifts, the highest of which is at 3,550 m. In fact, it’s one of the highest Alp ski resorts, so is a great destination for guaranteed good skiing late into the season.

Tignes is ideal for a short break, or even a long weekend, as it’s just two-and-a-half hours away from Chambery, and four hours away from Geneva, Lyon and Grenoble. Cheap flights combined with low accommodation costs make this a very affordable skiing break. The area enjoys a lively après-ski, and there’s plenty to off and on the slopes.

Skiing at La Plagne

La Plagne, a French Paradiski ski resort sits near Les Arcs, Montchavin-Les Coches and Peisey-Vallandry. The area has 425 km of downhill skiing, including 475 individual pistes with 141 lifts, and is one of the world’s biggest ski areas.

La Plagne alone has 225 km of ski runs, which is about the most skiing offered by a single resort just about anywhere. Situated over 1500 m above sea level, it is possible to ski back. Pistes above 2500m, assure snow right throughout the season but it has 359 snow cannons just in case.

It is a great resort for all ages and abilities, with wide, open pistes to short sharp black runs, and the terrain ranges from forest to powder snowfields to glacier. Most runs cater for recreational skiers, and they include nursery slopes and a huge choice of tuition schools.

La Plagne is also great for snowboarding with several good parks served by high-speed chairlifts. The large choice of night time bars also makes it a good après-ski destination. Self-catering accommodation is cheap and a charming French village appeal combined with access to an enormous ski area makes it an excellent resort.

France’s Savoie Region Favourite with British Property Buyers

The combined area of Savoie and Haute-Savoie, known as Savoy, has much going for it. Home to Mont Blanc and that hub of winter and mountain sports, Chamonix, it has excellent access by car from Calais ferry port, by air from Geneva Airport and by rail direct from London, not to mention great skiing and picturesque resorts. It also includes Lake Annecy.

Haute-Savoie includes the massive interlinked skiing area of Portes du Soleil, which connects Morzine, Avoriaz and Les Gets resorts. Buyers seek property in Les Gets, thanks to chocolate-box architecture, easy slope access and a great range of facilities. In Savoie, Espace Killy is a key ski area and includes Val d’Isère and Tignes, with some desirable French leaseback ski property.

Find Out More

See our range of leaseback properties for sale in France here. Each listing includes photographs, location details and key features of that home. Also call us today to speak to an experienced real estate consultant about investing in French property.