Posted on 18 October 2019
Every year, average prices of French luxury ski property outperform homes in many cities and global second home locations. This suggests that luxury ski apartments and chalets are in demand amongst wealthy investors, who compete for assets in limited supply, with lifestyle advantages and potential for long-term capital growth.
Swiss resorts of Zermatt and Davos often record the most robust annual price growth in Europe, but top tier properties in French resorts like Morzine and Chamonix follow close behind. The result is promising, as wealthy buyers bring stability. The Alps are back on the radar of second-home buyers and investors, with a clear upward pressure on prices, level of confidence, cash-rich buyers, low-interest rates and a flight to traditional, mature markets.
An increasing number of buyers of alpine luxury property come from overseas. A quarter of buyers are Brits living outside the UK, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Geneva or Dubai. Russian buyers are also driving the market’s top end, spending on average 1.5 times the amount of UK buyers. But to tap into the luxury ski real estate market of France, what do you need to know, and where is the best place to buy?
What to Look for in a Luxury Ski Property
Pretty views, en-suite bathrooms, underground parking and close to a ski lift are all things to expect as standard with a luxury chalet, but what makes specific properties extra special? When shopping around for a chalet that’s the crème de la crème of Alpine real estate, a wish list should include facilities for a spot of relaxation and pampering, and cutting edge audio-visual stimulation.
These days, no luxury chalet is complete without its own spa and wellness area, which at the very least includes a sauna and steam rooms, perhaps a massage room and Turkish bath, and most an outdoor hot tub on the terrace to sip champagne and take in jaw-dropping mountain vistas after a hard day on the slopes. Some homes also have an indoor pool.
Meanwhile, for nights in as opposed to the après-ski scene, a fully equipped cinema room is a welcome alternative. Satellite TV and DVD players are a given – the giant high spec plasma screen, surround sound and comfy sofas to curl up on are what makes a difference.
There should be LCD screens and built-in sound systems in all bedrooms – which number at least six. The AV offering should be rounded off with a central music centre connected to built-in speakers around the chalet, and Xbox 360, Playstation and Nintendo Wii consoles on hand for kids and adults alike.
More Readings: Tips for Buying French Alp Property
Courchevel: France’s Premier Luxury Resort
French ski resorts outnumber resorts in any other country in a published index that ranks luxury resorts around the world by property price growth, with Morzine scoring highest in seventh place.
Looking closer still, Courchevel (1850) leads the pricing stakes with the average luxury property there priced around €30,000-€32,000 per square metre. Compare this to Chamonix, a two-hour drive away and outside the desirable Trois Vallées area, where prime prices are €7,000-€8,000 per square metre.
€1m provides a buyer with around 117 square metres in Chamonix but a smaller 50 square metres in Courchevel (1850). The report noted too that a new ski chalet in the centre village could produce a 6.7 percent gross yield from rentals. Further analysis also highlighted a stronger demand for properties priced below €2.5 million, a market that accounted for 72 percent of enquiries, compared with 47 percent a year earlier.
In 2012, France’s Courchevel was the world’s 4th most exclusive ski resort behind Yellowstone Club in Montana, Klosters in Switzerland and Utah’s Deer Valley. Spot the trend of US dominance, with two resorts ranking 1st and 3rd.
But skiing and accessibility are not two things that marry well, in top French and American resorts. The resorts may be the world’s most exclusive, but any French resort will cost about four times what we would consider a cheap holiday deal.
Therefore, skiing property is all the rage right now. The world went mad for cheap property during the boom, but those who buy affordable properties rarely have the wherewithal to hold on to them through a sudden rough patch, and so panic sales drive down prices.
Property in Courchevel and such places attracts buyers who can hold on to them through sudden rough patches, so there is no such panic selling to drive down prices and brings stability to the market.
In 2016, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge cemented Courchevel’s reputation as a glamorous resort when they chose it for a family ski holiday. Prince William and Kate stayed with children George and Charlotte in Courchevel 1850, the most upmarket of four villages which is part of Les Trois Vallées ski area, the world’s largest that includes fashionable Meribel.
The couple’s choice contrasted with other royal members, who prefer Switzerland. Loyal Prince Charles enjoys Klosters, hence the chair lifts named after him, while Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson are regulars in Verbier, while Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex head to St Moritz.
Known as a playground for the super-wealthy and its designer boutiques, Michelin-star restaurants and multi-million-euro chalets, the celebrity fan club includes the Beckhams, Kate Moss, George Clooney, Lionel Richie and jet-set Russians, including Roman Abramovich. Of 16 six-star so-called palace hotels in France, three are in Courchevel.
Official photographs taken outside the £70 million home of French-born Saudi Arabia businessman Mansour Ojjeh show the property sits within an exclusive part .During their stay, William and Kate dined at Le Pilatus, on the sun-drenched terrace and visited Meribel.
Tips for Making Luxury Ski Homes More Affordable
Owners of French Alp homes could save thousands of pounds each year through careful planning for winter and shopping around. First-time owners will discover ski homes incur more expenses than, for example, a beach home, but our following tips can help minimise costs.
Currency Specialist: Use a currency transfer specialist to exchange Sterling and send euros to France, not only to purchase a ski home but also to keep French bank accounts topped up to cover running costs. Offering a far better exchange rate than banks, consider using a pre-paid currency card during holidays.
Take The Car. The French Alps Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions are within a comfortable motorway drive from Calais – eight hours. If travelling down with a family or in a large group, this travel option will be cheaper than flights for everyone plus hiring a car., drive out with items for kitting out your property and stocking up with provisions, as prices for consumables are high in French resorts, as is eating or drinking out.
Bargain Equipment. Being able to keep equipment at your property means not having to hire it each year, but save even more money by shopping around for skis, poles, and other paraphernalia. Search on-line discount stores or wait for the end of season sales in resorts. If you hire equipment, find good by booking early and on-line.
Discounted Passes: Like residents, second homeowners could be entitled to a discounted season pass. Otherwise, look for end-of-season and family discounts, as well lift passes offering value for money and exclusive deals.
Consider Leaseback: This hassle-free way to own a luxury ski property should include all running costs. Managed by a holiday company manages it, owners receive fixed rental income, with limited personal usage. Leaseback properties are also VAT exempt and free from one of France’s two types of council tax for a set period.
Our selection of French Alps luxury property includes apartments and villas ranging in price from €260,000 to €12 million chalets. Additionally, call us if you want to speak to a real estate advisor about investing in ski real estate.