Snow Makes Alpine Property Market Sizzle

The most recent Alpine Homes Report shows that interest in ski properties is growing, thanks in no small part to record snows that are boosting the beauty of …

The most recent Alpine Homes Report shows that interest in ski properties is growing, thanks in no small part to record snows that are boosting the beauty of mountain real estate. Realtors from Alpine Homes say sales are up 30% with transactions for properties ranging from €330,000 into the tens of millions for Swiss chalets. Sales in the French Alps are also doing well due to better and more available financing deals in the country. Purchasing property in Switzerland is not so easy, although new regulations are making it easier for Swiss nationals to sell existing properties to foreigners. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.

Investors in the ski property market remain diligent but are returning steadily to the market especially in France where finance remains affordable and accessible, according to a new report.

Also the fact that the 2012/2013 winter season looks like it will be achieve record snow falls and visitor numbers and hotel bookings are up on the previous year means there is likely to be a lot of interest.

The latest Alpine Homes Report in association with international real estate firm Savills also says that there is evidence of price increases in the new build market as supply falls, but there are deals to be had on older property.

‘New Year brings fresh snow and fresh buyers. At the beginning of 2012 and last year’s ski season, we spoke of rising stock markets and the January effect. That is to say, the FTSE 100 index had increased 5.5% in January and historically, stock markets are more likely to end on a high when there are positive gains in January,’ said Jeremy Rollason, managing director of Alpine Homes.

‘The FTSE 100 index did indeed end in positive territory in 2012, rising 4.4% on the year. We asked at the time, whether there could be any correlation to the ski property market and 2012 was a good year for the ski property market,’ he explained.

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He said that the firm’s sales volumes increased by 30% over the previous year and research undertaken in the Autumn of 2012 showed that asking prices in 72% of the 26 resorts surveyed in Austria, France and Switzerland were either stable or up from the previous year.

He added that after a poorer 2011/2012 season, the snow and the skiers returned in their droves to the Alps and tour operators and hoteliers alike reported much improved occupancy rates.

‘Activity has increased significantly. We have made four sales in both Austria and Switzerland so far in January. Resorts include Zell am See and Turracher Höhe in Austria and The Four Valleys in Switzerland. Prices range from €330,000 in Austria up to Chf2 million in Switzerland,’ said Rollason.

‘Buyers are however also active in the higher price bracket, typically Chf5 million to Chf15 million, but there is a dearth of buyers above this point,’ he added.

He also reported that property viewings are up 33% from the same time last year with February looking especially busy for people shopping for ski property while on half term. Recent snow fall has helped tourist numbers, which in turn helps the property market.

‘However, levels of activity and sale volumes do not necessarily equate to increased sales prices. Many vendors remain firmly implanted in a pre crisis vacuum of market denial. Some still need to realise that alpine property prices took a dip in the period 2008 to 2010, stabilised in 2011, and only in certain cases, have they started rising again,’ explained Rollason.


‘For anyone looking to sell a second hand property, the clear message is that prices need to be at least 20% below the equivalent new build asking price in their resort. This is less applicable for more recently built property, however, anything over 10 to 15 years old can become tired or outdated, especially if it has been rented out, and may need a degree of refurbishment. Buyers of second homes rarely want the hassle of having to oversee a renovation project in a foreign country,’ he pointed out.

In Switzerland, much has been made of the new legislation that came into effect on o1 January 2013, capping the number of second homes permitted at 20%. Rollason said that this is good news for existing second home owners as values are widely predicted to rise, but not such good news for the construction industry in Switzerland which accounts for more than 5% of GDP.

‘Every cloud has a silver lining however, as almost simultaneously, certain cantons, including Valais and Vaud, are now permitting Swiss nationals to re-sell their properties to non Swiss nationals after five years of ownership. So, even though buyers may not be able to buy a new home in Switzerland in the future, this will ensure second home liquidity, subject to the usual restrictions,’ said Rollason.

Another consideration is currency exchanges and he said that while a weak pound may be good for the UK economic recovery, but is less welcome for those buying abroad.

He added that on a positive note, finance, both within the Eurozone and Switzerland, remains accessible and affordable. Swiss borrowing rates remain the lowest in Europe.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.


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