Alpine ski property market gaining momentum, new report suggests

The market for ski property in the Alps is gaining momentum with prices stabilising following falls in both 2011 and 2012, according to a new analysis report.

Both viewings and transactions increased in 2013 while both were up again by 200% in January and February of 2014, the report from international property firm Savills shows.

It says that the majority of Alpine property buyers are regular skiers in the region, and although the number of winter ski trips to the Alps are still below their 2007 to 2008 peak when 700,000 trips were made, winter visitors have started to increase again.

The residential markets are also aided by growth in summer season visits, as the mountains attract larger numbers of walkers and cyclists.

The report points out that Switzerland’s status as a safe haven with its attractive fiscal environment and historical political and economic stability, make it an attraction for buyers from around the world.

International buyers are diverse, but the Swiss Alps have seen purchasers from Asia, in particular Singapore, and young buyers who are on average in their early 40s. Buyers from northern Europe are also on the increase in the Swiss Alps.

‘The rental market is strong, so renting out a property for just three weeks a year in Verbier, for example, will usually completely cover the annual running costs of the property,’ the report says.

‘Apartments are popular, especially new build properties which can provide a range of attractive offerings such as proximity to lifts, parking, wellness centres and concierge services,’ it adds.

In scenic Austria where ski resorts and lakes are often close together, dual season properties are popular. Lower capital values in this market have meant buyers can find good, income producing investments.

New developments are underway in many resorts, so supply is not as constrained as in some other Alpine locations, especially Switzerland. Chalets remain popular and relatively affordable in Austria.

UK buyers are the biggest buyer group in Austria although the country is also popular with those from the Czech Republic, Russia and other countries in the CIS.

The French Alps have seen a mixed picture in terms of pricing. Where Courchevel has seen prices stabilise at 20% below 2008 values, limited supply has helped both Megève and Val d’Isère see sustained price growth over the five years to 2013.

‘As with the rest of France, confidence in the market is still relatively weak, impacted by ongoing uncertainty around the French tax environment and economy, but has the potential to strengthen significantly should this change,’ the report explains.

Swiss buyers have become more common in the French Alpine market over the last five years, taking advantage of the strong Swiss franc and weak euro, while UK buyer numbers have declined.

‘Taken as a whole, the outlook for the Alpine property market looks positive with increased buyer interest and transactions in recent times,’ the report concludes.