Can You Buy Property in the French Alps?

Posted on 16 February 2023

Yes, you can buy property in the French Alps. There are no restrictions on EU nationals buying and owning property in the French Alps. Other nationalities should check the purchase process, but France openly welcomes foreigners to invest in their real estate market, and the lure is strong.

Across the alps, resorts and ski areas are investing millions into upgrading infrastructure and amenities. Over the last five years, ski infrastructure has occurred in the 3 Valleys area, Courchevel 1650, Megeve and La Clusaz. This will continue as resorts want to capitalise on the international fame of the alps.

In addition, purchasing ski property is no longer just for winter, but more resorts have opened to year-round tourism; hence use your property year-round or rent the property out. This is also an exclusive lifestyle, and niche found nowhere else. France is the skiing domain of the world. Ski property owners also get to sample everything delightfully French, including pastries, cheese, wine, and chocolate. So, with that in mind, what do you need to know about purchasing property in the alps?

About Buying Ski Property in the French Alps

can I buy property in the Alps

Top Tips for a Wise Investment

  • Choose dual-season resorts with various winter and summer activities like mountain biking.
  • Remember, the higher the altitude, the longer the ski season
  • For affordable property prices in the alpine property market, purchase in back-door resorts, also known as satellite resorts. These towns, like Combloux, Tignes and Les Menuires resort, link to the same ski area but offer more affordable property prices.
  • For rental properties, ski-in ski-out chalets receive more bookings and facilities like a jacuzzi or ski room make a difference. Another option is leaseback properties, where management teams handle reservations.
  • Don’t just look at the resort, but also the ski area and distance to primary transport links like Geneva airport.
  • Investigate currency brokers to get the best exchange rates on property prices.
  • If buying a ski chalet, take your time because this is a specialist niche.

Leaseback Properties

Property buyers can get a 20% VAT refund, which is sometimes reflected in the selling price. Usually, for leaseback properties, owners cannot change the interior, so this is something to consider. In return for agreeing to leaseback status, the buyer can use the property in the resort for several weeks yearly.

Paying Tax on Rental Income

All rent income is subject to tax and payable by the end of April every year. If you declare less than 75,000 Euros, pay 30% of the gross income. If you claim more than 75,000 Euros, all expenses are included with the net income.

Capital Gains Tax When Selling

Whether or not you live in France, all property sellers must pay capital gains tax. It is payable on the difference between the purchase price and the selling. Completed renovation work is also considered as long as there is an invoice. Non-Europeans pay 33%, and Europeans pay 16%. If you have owned the property for more than five years, deduct 10% off the final amount for every year. Sellers are not liable if they have owned the property for 15 years, but do check tax laws in your own country.

Annual Running Costs and Taxes

Annual running costs will vary depending on where and what you buy. If any property in our resort portfolio catches your eye and you wish to view it, we estimate how much to budget for running costs. Aside from that, there are two resort property taxes to pay yearly, which are based on the value of your property, otherwise known as “Cadastral Value.”. The first Taxe Fonciere is exempt for the first two years on new build property, and the second is called Taxe habitation. If you buy a resale property, the tax amounts to pay are available straight away. TAXE Fonciere goes towards funding local services, and for Taxe Habitation, this is paid by the tenant if renting out for the long term. Aside from that, other costs include property insurance, TV licence, utility bills and service charges.

Inheritance Tax: This tax depends on the value of the inherited or gifted property, the relationship between the receiver and giver, and whether they are residents in France. Nationalities of EU countries who own property in the Alps should look into EU Regulation No 650/2012, which allows you to apply your country’s succession and inheritance laws. This has to be done before your death; otherwise, French inheritance law will apply.

Construction Guarantees for New Build Apartments

All new build construction apartments have ten-year guarantees on hidden defects, but buyers should take out insurance if the constructor fails to complete them. Also, remember that off-plan flats are sold with stage payments.

Buying a Luxury Chalet

Price tags sometimes put buyers off, but there are ways to ensure a chalet is a worthy investment, not a financial drain on owning. First of all, luxury chalets have to match their environment. The location of the chalet should feature high-end shops and restaurants. Second, luxury chalets’ features matter when it comes to renting out and reselling. As mentioned before, the ski-in, ski-out part is vital. Also consider a well-designed kitchen, whether stunning views are available, a ski room, spa facilities and a jacuzzi. Here are some more tips on buying a ski chalet in the Alps. The biggest is to avoid any renovation project. It is not a wise investment.

Tips for Finding the Right Property

  • What is your desired transfer time from the airport to the resort?
  • Do you want a family-friendly or suitable resort for groups and couples?
  • What is your maximum purchase price?
  • Do you want a chalet, apartment, new build, or resale property?
  • The number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
  • How close to the slopes do you want to be?
  • Do you also want to use the property for the summer holidays?
  • Do you want a ski area suited to Beginner, intermediate or advanced skiers?
  • What is the rental potential if you want an income?

Helpful Terms to Know About the Property Purchase

Acte Authentique De Vente: The final contract, or deed of sale, signed by both parties and certified before a notary.

Commune: A local municipality in France that a mayor oversees

Compromis de Vente: Legally binding purchase contract drawn up upon acceptance of an offer that both parties sign and also accompanied by a deposit. The week after is usually a cooling-off period when the buyer can pull out of the sale without losing their deposit.

FAI (Frais d’Agence Inclus): Agency fees of the advertised property. These are usually listed next to the selling price.

Gîte: Fully furnished self-catering accommodation in France for holiday rentals

Service Charges: Property owners in a complex pay towards communal areas and on-site facilities, including a swimming pool, garage, gym and structural insurance.

Résidence du tourism: Building containing leaseback apartments and communal facilities for tourist accommodation.

SCI (Société Civile Immobilière): A company set up to purchase a property. This sometimes works in the buyer’s favour for tax benefits.

TTC (Toutes Taxes Comprises): All taxes are included in the selling price, which usually applies to off-plan and new-build property.

The Buying Property Process

Legalities require a notary for the sale process. They act on behalf of the buyer and seller, although the buyer pays the fees. The first stage they arrange at the notary’s office is Compromis de Vente, the contract and agreed date for sale. After that, the buyer pays a deposit, and the notary will organise the other documents, which can take up to three months.

Structural surveys are not required for buying. But various surveys are carried out on properties in the sale process. They include Asbestos, Lead, Termite Damage, Energy Performance, Surface Area for apartments, Gas, Electricity, Drainage and Natural Risks.

The Acte Authentique, the final contract, happens before the notary. This is when the unlimited funds are to be paid. Considering closing costs, factor in roughly 3% for new build properties or 7% for resale.

French Mortgages

There are many ways to lift the finances for apartment and chalet property investors who are not cash buyers. Most would do so in their home country; maybe if you have enough equity in your current home, use it to take out a new mortgage, while others prefer a French mortgage. As always, take advice on how to secure the funds to buy your new home in France. Typically you need a 20% deposit to get a mortgage for 80%. In addition, French banks will only lend when the repayments are 30% or less of your monthly income. We will be able to provide you with a complete guide on a mortgage in France.

Which Location and Ski Resort is Best?

Chamonix Valley: Buying ski property in the Chamonix Mont Blanc Valley can be a minefield; if you’re unfamiliar with the valley, it’s hard to understand why there are so many different villages to choose from, and what the difference is between Vallorcine Argentiere and Les Houches. Whilst Chamonix Mont Blanc is a central location, the Chamonix valley and mountains have rural Alpine beauty, access to some of the most challenging skiing in Europe, and more family-friendly fun down the valley in Les Houches.

Val Thorens: At an altitude of 2,300 meters, skiers on holiday are always impressed by this French Alps ski resort market. Another aspect luring in skiers from near and far is their commitment to constantly upgrade infrastructure and introduce new activities like this year’s additions of ziplines and glider aircraft. Other activities include helicopter rides, sledge dogs, and ice diving. Val Thorens belongs to the Three Valleys ski area, the world’s largest ski area and includes other notable resorts like Meribel valley and upmarket Courchevel.

Resorts in the Portes Du Soleil Ski Area: As one of France’s largest ski areas, ski resorts offer easy access to fantastic slopes in a French Alps winter playground. Covering 12 ski resorts spread across Switzerland and France, each offers something unique, ensuring a bountiful choice of places for a holiday to buy an apartment or chalet. While some ski resorts are purposely built, others present that traditional Alpine ambience and proof of the success of Portes du Soleil is seen in the millions of visitors every year.

Val D’isère: Homebuyers to the French Alps should look hard at the entire Val d’Isère property market because it delivers everything. Sitting in the Tarentaise Valley of southeast France and close to Italy’s border, Val d’Isère taps into the Espace Killy ski area alongside nearby Tignes. But, as a long-time favourite of British buyers, Val d’Isère isn’t content to rest on its laurels and wants to be the creme de la creme of the French Alps.

Properties For Sale in The French Alps

As an experienced ski real estate agent, our portfolio contains many French Alpine properties that make the right location for ideal investment opportunities. Whether you plan to move to the alps, want rental income, or buy a French ski holiday apartment, our Alpine estate agents can help you to search for affordable and luxury homes for sale.

Our property listings include photos, descriptions, and local information. Our destinations have much investment potential, ranging from Les Carroz to La Tania to the above-mentioned significant resorts. We hope we have answered your question about whether you can buy property in the alps. If you have any more questions or want to start your property search of ski chalets and apartments, call today and chat with an agent about making a ski property purchase.