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Winter snow property season already picking up

Unlike many overseas property markets, prices in the French Alps are not just stable but actually rising in many locations, reflecting the steady demand from families and young professionals wanting second homes in top ski resorts, many of which are yea -round destinations offering outdoor holidays when the snows have melted.

The UK office of MGM French Properties, the Annecy based developer which has specialised in the design and construction of ski resort properties for almost 50 years, reports that sales to British buyers in the eight months to August matched those for the whole of last year.

‘It’s not just skiers who are showing a keen interest. Increasingly investors are realising that properties in good locations, like some of Europe’s top ski resorts, can offer better returns than the uncertainties of the stock market,’ said London sales manager Richard Deans.

‘After two tough years, buyers are back and  prices have risen by 6% in a year which many overseas property developers around the world describe as one of the worst on record,’ he added.

French market watchers have always paid close attention to what happens in Chamonix, traditionally regarded as a good indicator for the whole of the French Alpine region.
‘The news from Chamonix bodes well for the coming season,’ explained Deans who added that MGM’s average prices in the French Alps have risen from €390,000 a year ago to €470,000. They are continuing to rise, despite fluctuating exchange rates.

Knight Frank international said that there has been a great deal of building and renovation in the best alpine locations, such as Courchevel 1850 which saw 14 cranes in situ over the summer building period, and this has been matched with increased interest in the higher resorts with a great ski domain on the doorstep.

The market itself still remains busy and whilst buyers still hold a good hand, properties in the best locations are limited, making destinations such as Courchevel, Meribel and Val d'Isere more attractive to those looking to make sure they can ski throughout the season. Chic destinations such as Megeve also continue to attract the international audience.
Recently, Knight Frank launched the first ever Ski Resort Property Index which revealed that the French resort of Megève displayed a relatively strong recovery in property prices, recording 4.3% growth in the year to June 2011 but prices are still 4 to 6% below their 2008 sales levels.

Although the US resorts of Telluride and South Lake Tahoe recorded a decline in prices annually, there is evidence that these markets are strengthening with both recording a slower rate of quarterly price declines in the second quarter of 2011.
The impact of the global recession was felt first in the European resorts in 2009. In most of the Alpine resorts prices have now stabilised with some, but not all, even seeing small price rises. The market remains price sensitive but correctly-priced properties are continuing to sell and on occasion attract multiple buyers.

Overall, average annual price growth in Europe reached 1.7% in the second quarter of 2011 compared to drop of 3% across North America.

Demand from Eurozone buyers has kept price growth in the French Alps in positive territory, replacing buyers from Russia and the CIS States whose presence is less evident since 2009.