A healthy snowfall last year and prices continuing to ease back from their peak a few years ago have combined to see British interest in Alpine ski investment properties reignited despite a backdrop of Brexit uncertainty and pound sterling weakness compared to the euro and Swiss franc. A few years of poor snowfall and snowballing prices had seen interest wane but the Alps is back on the map for ski resort property investments.
Real estate agent Knight Frank pricing data indicates a 1.8% drop in average prices across the Alps last year, which has slowed to 0.5% over 2018. But British interest is up again with the company reporting a significant uptick in enquiries.
However, prices have seen divergence with some prime locations such as Val d’Isère, Chamonix and Courchevel seeing 3%, 2.3% and 2.2% growth respectively. The upwards trend of property prices in French ski resorts mirrors wider house price increases in France as a whole. Prices of upmarket properties have particularly benefited from President Macron’s reductions to the country’s wealth tax.
Switzerland’s resorts have seen mixed fortunes with some areas seeing prices of investment properties increase while others have slid. Villars-sur-Ollon and Verbier have seen 6% and 3.4% increases to average selling prices.
However, in St. Moritz, Klosters and Davos prices have dropped by between 11% and 9%. That’s thought to be the result of a combination of the recent strength of the Swiss franc and overdevelopment. Elsewhere prices in the most expensive part of the Alps have remained more or less stagnant on last year’s levels.
The Austrian market has remained strong due to tight restrictions on new construction and regulations that owners of investment properties are obliged to offer them up for rent, managed by the apart-hotel they are part of, whenever not personally occupying them. The majority of buyers in Austria are local or Germans rather than Brits.
Climate change is having a major impact on the market for ski rental properties in the Alps. Villages and resorts at lower altitudes have seen insufficient snowfall past early spring to keep operating lifts in recent years. They often turn into ghost towns from April until December, or late-November in good years. This severely impacts the potential rental returns that investment properties can bring in over the entire year and is putting British buyers off. However, some resorts have done a good job in marketing themselves as summer outdoors and hiking destinations or bring tourists in with music festivals and other events outside of the ski season.
Other major factors buyers look at are internet speeds and ease of access to an airport with good links to the UK.