Property in the Alps in demand

by Ray Clancy on March 6, 2013

Apartments can range from €190,000 to €450,000 depending on size and location

Property in the Alps in demand

As the ski season in the Alps draws to an end, agents and developers are reporting an increase in inquiries for real estate in prime locations in ski resorts. Location is really important for those investing in ski property but a property near the ski lifts does not have to be super expensive, according to Athena Advisors.

‘Investors like super prime locations as they provide the best returns, but we’re now seeing more lifestyle purchasers, like families, request such properties as it means their children don’t have to travel far by foot,’ said Nicholas Leach at Athena Advisors.  ‘Properties in super prime locations very rarely changed hands so buyers with budgets of €150,000 to €500,000 are normally priced out. However, occasionally buyers can get their hands on properties in great locations without the customary seven figure price tag,’ he added.

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

The London office of French Alpine developer MGM reports that, in the current climate of uncertainty in financial markets, doctors and other medical professionals have been in the vanguard of those who are cash buyers investing in ski properties in the region. ‘Second homes in traditional French mountain resorts which annually attract skiers, walkers and others who enjoy the year round outdoor life are regarded by many as much safer havens for investment in bricks and mortar that those in sunnier climes devastated by the Euro crisis,’ said MGM’s Richard Deans.

Quote from PropertyCommunity.com : “Australia and the French Alps see increase in property searches.”

In recent months MGM’s London office has seen a marked increase in the number of older buyers happy to spend around £450,000 to £500,000 in cash to secure three bedroom ski apartments in French ski resorts. ‘These are buyers who do not have to worry about applying for mortgages because they already have the money they need. Some have been saving it over a period of many years or they have reached an age where they can receive and re-invest a pension lump sum. In other cases elderly parents have died, leaving their grown up children an inheritance to spend on themselves,’ explained Deans.

In addition to those in the medical field, cash buyers of MGM’s properties include other professionals, the owners of service businesses and fund managers who no longer need to worry about risky mortgages and are happy to put their money into long term investments.

An example of this is dyslexia specialist Christine Birch (52) and her IT consultant partner Steve O’Carroll (53). The couple from Horsham in West Sussex, have bought a three bedroom leaseback apartment at MGM’s Le Chalet de Flambeau, a résidence de tourisme at Val Cenis in the Haute-Maurienne, close to the Italian border.

Christine is also a professional ski instructor and was keen to buy her own ski-in, ski-out apartment. ‘We felt that the quality of MGM’s development was far superior to others we had inspected. When we found that we could buy a three bedroom apartment for the price we would have to pay for a two bed elsewhere, we decided that this was the place for us and our six grown up children,’ she explained.

They paid €302,000 for the apartment, excluding French VAT at 19.6% which is waived under the leaseback scheme. ‘Not only is this a good deal but I was attracted by the convenience of the leaseback arrangement. Management and lettings are taken care of for us and MGM’s professional and helpful approach made the buying process very easy,’ she added.

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