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With the Winter Olympics almost underway, the four yearly event is expected to lead to an increase in interest in ski property with the market in the French Alps expecting a busy start to 2014.

But other factors are also contributing to a busy market in the Alps. Some wealthy French owners are offloading properties as they leave the country in order to escape President Francois Hollande’s tax regime and a further incentive to sell a second home in France sooner rather than later is the government’s reduction on its rate of capital gains tax (CGT), applicable only between September 2013 and September 2014.
 
The cheapness of French euro mortgages which are close to historic lows is attracting a lot of foreign buyers.
‘The Winter Olympics never fails to inspire people to hit the slopes. Having the event in Sochi is especially exciting for Russians, the host nation, as the wealthier ones already having an affinity to Alpine resorts, such as Courchevel,’ said Julian Walker, director of Skiingproperty.com.

‘Overall, foreign buyers, including Middle Easterners, are realizing that France’s taxation of its rich residents won’t affect them as non-resident owners of ski homes, so they are taking advantage of the opportunities to purchase a euro asset that comes with strong lifestyle appeal and long term investment security,’ he added.

Wealthy buyers are also attracted to Courcheval because of its airport which can take private jets. There have been an increasing number of high end restaurants opening in the resort which is famous for its three kilometer Combe de La Saulire red run.

Athena Advisors has seen an increase in sales in the French Alps with sales of French ski chalets above €1 million up 32% on last year’s figures. ‘There has been an unusually high amount of single dwelling development in the Alps over the last year. At least three times the number of chalets have been built compared with recent years. This is largely due to the pent up demand as a result of a large volume of buyers sitting on the fence for so long and now jumping off. This rush to the market has created a lot of demand for a limited supply,’ said Nicholas Leach, partner at Athena Advisors.

‘The big popular resorts have seen most development. For example in Val d’Isere normally just two or three properties are built each season, yet last year eight were built in one project alone and we’ve sold all but one of these already,’ he added.

And buyers are demanding more with hot tubs, après ski bars and wellness and fitness facilities now regarded as must haves, followed by exterior under floor heating, alternative sports facilities and behavioral lighting.

‘It’s not all simply about personal enjoyment and satisfaction, top end buyers understand that a more luxurious property will command a higher rental for bookings. The chalet rental market is extremely demanding and only a few properties in each resort can compete at this level,’ explained Leach.

He also pointed out that while big resorts like Megève and Val d’Isere still retain their appeal, neighboring resorts which were previously less desirable are now becoming popular. For example Combloux in the Evasion Mont Blanc domain is at least 50% cheaper than Megève, yet it is only four kilometers away and has direct access to the same ski domain.
 
So called super chalets are also becoming popular. An example is Chalet Husky in Val d’Isere which has seven bedrooms, a 32 square meter swimming pool, an array of wellness facilities, a bar, a gym, an archery and pistol range, an indoor climbing wall and a two story indoor atrium garden.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.