Is Ski Property A Good Investment?

Posted on 20 June 2024

Financial experts agree that real estate is profitable, but many novice investors ask, is ski property is a good investment? This is understandable since it is not like mainstream, middle-income markets. The answer is that although markets operate in separate, elite niches, ski properties have appealing appreciation value. From Val D’Isère to budget and affluent destinations, there is much potential for a return on investment in many ideal locations.

Connected to skiing tourism industries, the architectural styles of chalets impress everyone with alpine features, and yearly running costs vary from standard homes. Some skiing industries confine themselves to winter months, making buy-to-let investors think twice. However, buyers can still make wise long-term investments in mountain resorts with healthy incomes if they focus on location-specific attributes.

Is Ski Property a Good Investment?

Amazing Growth of Resorts

A few years ago, European ski industries were in turmoil. Average skiing costs rose dramatically, and low snowfall periods sent skiers elsewhere. However, Europeans quickly adapted, and their changes helped real estate markets. The French offered VAT rebates on properties. Of course, terms and conditions were attached, but buyers grabbed impeccable bargains. Others upgraded infrastructure with faster ski lifts and transport buses.

They looked to year-round tourist atmospheres. They implemented ways to do this with activities, amenities, and exciting trips. This, in turn, increased the value of homes and the potential of buy-to-let incomes. The mountain resorts that have changed are the ones to focus on.

Ski Purchases in Flims-Waldhaus Resort

Even though the town was one of Switzerland’s first to embrace alpine tourism, the quiet reputation means Films-Waldhaus is often overlooked by neighbouring Davos and Klosters. Yet, modernisation upgrades to properties attract buyers to Flims-Waldhaus Mountain Resort and Spa, allowing owners to tap into the benefits of traditional holiday locations with onsite spas, restaurants, lounge bar and concierge services. It delights foreign and domestic buyers with one of Switzerland’s best terrains, fully-fledged summer seasons, and short transfers to Zurich airport.


Weekend Trips in Chatel

Some places attract attention because buyers turn away from glitzy and heavily priced towns like Courchevel in favour of upcoming destinations for their ski purchases. Combloux, with stunning Mount Blanc views and affordable prices, has enormous potential for long-term returns on investment.

Despite low-key vibes, foreigners are commonplace in southeast France, and traditional French atmospheres add to the “on holiday” vibes. Chatel also grasps attention with low prices of ongoing costs. The authentic Savoyard architecture emphasises alpine village vibes, and summer lovers flock to several activities, including zip-lining and mountain biking. Arc 1800 district also promotes itself as an ideal resort year-round.

Research Location and Transport Links

Along with checking the summer potential and infrastructure, ask how easy it is to get there? While higher-level altitude resorts get better snow, they often involve longer travel. Flims-Waldhaus, as mentioned above, gets attention because transport links and times are excellent. French Chamonix resort takes 75 minutes to reach from Genova airport, while eager skiers arrive in Tignes in 40 minutes.

Leaseback Rental Properties – Apartments and Chalets

Lastly, savvy investors who want buy-to-let incomes and affordable ongoing costs should look at leaseback investment properties throughout France. France’s Paradiski area is prime for this concept, and developers in Arc 1800 take advantage of its growing popularity. When owners don’t use their ski apartments, managers will secure bookings and handle rentals, with an average of 4.10% rental returns.

VAT applies to all newly built French properties, as stipulated by the government. Still, on a short-term basis, anyone renting out furnished property with hotel facilities such as cleaning or breakfast can apply for 20% VAT refunds.

Summary: Key Points for Skiing Property Investments

  • What facilities are available for keen skiers?
  • What daily amenities, such as shops, bars, restaurants, and banks, are available?
  • Research future resort developments
  • How easy and quick are transfers from airports and railway stations?
  • Does the resort have year-round tourism seasons for quality time?
  • Consider leaseback programs as outlined by France

What Time of Year is Best for Buying Ski Property?

Whether you want a vacation home, a rental property, or a permanent residence, timing your property purchase significantly impacts your buying experience and financial outcome. Understanding seasonal market trends is crucial for making an informed purchase. The market experiences distinct cycles throughout the year, influenced by tourism, weather, and economic conditions.

Winter (December to February): Properties are in good demand, allowing house hunters to see alpine property markets at their busiest. You can also immediately enjoy your new freehold property. Prices are higher due to increased demand. Inventory may be limited as current owners prefer to rent out their properties during the lucrative season. Buying during the winter gives you a true sense of value and appeal during peak season. However, be prepared to pay a premium.

Spring (March to May): The market begins to cool down. Sellers motivated by the rental season may offer favourable purchase prices. Snow may still obscure landscaping and accessibility. Spring is an excellent time to find deals as the winter season fades. Sellers are often flexible on price post-season.”

Summer (June to August): With clear weather, thoroughly inspect the property and surroundings. The absence of snow makes it harder to visualise the property as a winter retreat. Fewer properties may be listed as owners often use this time for maintenance. Summer allows for thorough inspections and better negotiations and is an excellent time to explore the community and off-season activities.”

Fall (September to November): As ski season approaches, sellers have a sense of urgency to close deals. Prices are competitive, and you can prepare the property for winter. The market begins to heat up again, and competition increases. Fall is a strategic time because sellers want to offload properties before the winter, creating buyer opportunities.

Economic and Local Factors Affecting the Return of Property Investment

Beyond seasonal trends, economic conditions and factors also play a significant role in determining the best time.

  • Interest Rates: Monitor interest rate trends. Lower interest rates significantly reduce mortgage payments.
  • Local Markets: Stay informed about supply and demand dynamics, new developments, and regional economic health.
  • Income: If you’re considering renting your property, assess the peak rental seasons and potential revenue. Properties purchased in spring or summer can be prepped for the high-demand winter season.

Final Tips for Buyers

  • Work with Local Experts: Engage with agents and property managers with in-depth knowledge.
  • Do Your Research: Investigate the history, previous income (if applicable), and future development plans.
  • Visit Multiple Times: If possible, visit during different seasons to comprehensively understand its year-round potential.

Winter offers a firsthand experience of peak season, while spring and summer provide opportunities for better deals and thorough inspections. Fall combines the best of both worlds with motivated sellers and preparation time for winter.

Buying Investment Property in Europe Versus America

When comparing Europe or America, several factors come into play, including market conditions, income, prices, and preferences.

Markets, Regulations and Demand

Europe: Europe offers many ski destinations, from the French Alps to the Austrian Tirol and Swiss destinations like Zermatt. Each market has unique characteristics and price points with a long history and a loyal customer base, ensuring stable demand. But remember, property purchase regulations vary by country. For instance, Switzerland has strict rules for foreign buyers, while countries like France and Austria make buying easy. European markets are generally mature and less volatile than newer American markets. Remember the French leaseback scheme as well.

America: Destinations like Aspen, Vail, and Whistler offer robust markets. High-profile Rockies and Sierra Nevada resorts attract domestic and international buyers. Generally, buying property is straightforward for foreign investors, although financing options are more limited than those for domestic buyers. The American market is also susceptible to economic fluctuations, but prime locations retain value well.

Rental Income, Occupancy Rates, and Year-Round Appeal

Europe: Many resorts have year-round activities, boosting income even in off-seasons. Established tourist destinations often enjoy higher occupancy rates, especially in renowned areas like Chamonix or St. Moritz. Rental yields vary, but high-demand areas typically offer solid returns, especially during winter.

America: While winter months see high occupancy, summer activities are still developing, though places like Whistler and Aspen offer strong off-season appeal. High-end resorts command premium rental rates, particularly during peak ski season. However, this is balanced by lower yields during off-peak periods.

Property Prices and Growth Potential

Prices vary significantly in Europe. Switzerland and France are expensive, while Austria and Italy offer affordable options. Some lesser-known resorts offer growth potential as infrastructure and accessibility improve. Whereas prices in top-tier U.S. towns like Aspen and Vail are high, often comparable to elite European destinations. Other affordable markets, like Utah and Colorado, offer good value.

Cultural Lifestyles with Modern Amenities and Outdoor Activities

In Europe, owning property offers cultural experiences with historical towns, varied cuisines, and multilingual communities. European towns are often easily accessible from major cities and airports, making travel convenient. Whereas American resorts often feature modern amenities and infrastructure, luxury and convenience, and activities year-round, appealing to adventure enthusiasts.

Expert Insights

When looking at Europe, resorts offer blended tradition and modernity, making them attractive to lifestyle buyers and investors. However, be mindful of varying regulations across different countries. However, the U.S. market is dynamic, with significant investment opportunities in established and emerging locations. Investors can find great value, especially considering the rental and market growth.”

Deciding between Europe and America depends on individual investment goals and budgets. Europe offers well-established markets with stable demand and rich experiences. On the other hand, America provides a dynamic market with the growth of resorts offering the potential for high rentals, particularly in renowned resorts. Evaluate your priorities, whether they are cultural, financial, or lifestyle-driven, and choose a market that aligns best with your long-term goals.

Where is the Cheapest Place to Buy property in the Alps?

Alpine Mountain resorts of Europe offer stunning landscapes, a buoyant property market, world-class skiing, and charming mountain villages. While some Alpine regions are known for their sky-high property purchases, there are still many central locations where you can find affordable chalets and apartments with low ongoing costs. These places offering competitive prices and investment projects are called backdoor resorts, sometimes called satellite resorts.

La Plagne: Part of the Paradiski area, the destination La Plagne offers extensive ski terrain and is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, excellent public transport options and high-speed lifts. Prices of buildings outrank famous French ski towns like Courchevel or Val d’Isère. Despite excellent skiing and amenities, La Plagne is a less trendy but cost-effective option.

Les Menuires: Located in France’s Three Valleys, Les Menuires village centre provides access to one of the largest ski areas. Prices of apartments are lower than Méribel or Courchevel. Les Menuires is less glamorous and quieter, attracting budget-conscious crowds while offering superb skiing.

Vaujany: Connected to the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine Ski area, Vaujany village centre offers fantastic skiing without high price tags. Properties in Vaujany are more affordable than in Alpe d’Huez itself.

Bourg-Saint-Maurice: Located at the base of Les Arcs, Bourg-Saint-Maurice offers outdoor spaces in Paradiski without hefty prices. As a town rather than a resort, Bourg-Saint-Maurice provides authentic, less touristy environments with year-round living in a ski apartment or chalet.

Bramberg am Wildkogel: A small village in the Wildkogel Arena of Austria, Bramberg offers picturesque scenery and good skiing. Properties here are much cheaper compared to the famous Kitzbühel. Bramberg is less well-known internationally and a hidden gem for budget-conscious buyers.

Rauris: Nestled in Raurisertal Valley, this historic village offers Hohe Tauern National Park access. Rauris is more affordable than Zell am See. Rauris is off the beaten path, with quieter, authentic Alpine experiences.

Pila: A ski resort above the city of Aosta in Italy, Pila offers excellent skiing with views of Mont Blanc. Prices are lower than Courmayeur or Cervinia. Pila is relatively undiscovered by international tourists, keeping prices down while still offering excellent amenities.

Bormio: Known for its thermal baths, weekend trips and World Cup ski races, Bormio in Lombardy, Italy, offers a rich history and great skiing. Compared to Swiss or French resorts, Bormio provides better value and is less accessible than other resorts, which helps keep prices reasonable.

is ski property a good investment

Tips and Advice to Find Affordable Investments

Look beyond famous resorts and affluent destinations. Smaller, lesser-known areas offer access to quality skiing at lower prices.

  • Italy offers exceptional value with many hidden gems like Pila and Bormio, which provide excellent investment opportunities without breaking the bank.
  • The geographical location of the Alps is vast, and you can find your dream property in an ideal location with some research. It’s all about identifying the lesser-known yet equally beautiful areas.
  • Consider year-round appeal. Places that offer summer activities like hiking and biking and winter sports often provide better long-term value.

Finding affordable property requires looking beyond the most famous and trendy resorts. Regions in France, Austria, and Italy offer numerous opportunities without the premium prices associated with renowned areas. Whether you prefer the traditional charm of Vaujany, the stunning scenery of Bramberg am Wildkogel or the year-round appeal of Bourg-Saint-Maurice, there are plenty of budget-friendly options for those willing to explore.

Is Climate Change Affecting the Alp?

Ok, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Naturally, we are often asked about climate change and whether it marks the end of alpine skiing. According to Knight Frank, which regularly publishes reports about housing markets worldwide, “59% of respondents are concerned about Alpine climates, while 72% say a ski resort’s resilience influences their decision of where to buy. “

Everyone, buying or selling, wants to know how changing snow conditions will impact skiing properties. However, information changes every year. Last month, The Cryosphere published a research paper that predicted extra snowfall at high-altitude resorts but extra rainfall at lower-altitude destinations. The surprise of 2023 / 2024 was that Chamonix, near Mont Blanc, became the world’s first destination to report four feet of snowfall on high slopes. Many resorts this year also claimed it was their best snowfall to date. A welcome relief after winter 2022. 2023 saw many closing early because of the lack of snow.

Hence, no one, not even agencies, knows unless they have a crystal ball. A better way to answer this question is to consider what is being done to minimise impact. We can look again at Knight Frank, who mapped French and Swiss areas with north-facing slopes to gauge resilient places.

They also say, “While Gstaad, Zermatt and Chamonix rank highly, it’s not all about altitude and outdoor spaces. Lower altitude dual season resorts with north-facing grassy slopes, like Villars-sur-Ollon, are more snow-sure than higher altitude resorts with south-facing slopes and ideal for weekend ski trips.”

How Are Ski Resorts Becoming Resilient to Climate Change?

Green Energy and Science: Scientists are removing rocks and planting new grass to keep snow intact for extended periods. Renewable energy power, high-speed lifts, snow cannons, and solar energy fuel public infrastructure and electric buses in Verbier and Val-d’Isère, while Gstaad’s waste centre supplies heating. Compagnie des Alpes is converting 130 snow groomers to HVO fuel (hydrotreated vegetable oil manufactured from renewable and sustainable waste) as part of their scheme.

Green Snowflake: 22 French towns hold the Green Snowflake award from the Mountain Riders Association to reflect their commitment to environmentally sustainable initiatives. Resorts have to fulfil 20 environmental and social criteria.

Top Five French Alpine Towns Tackling Climate Change

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