French Alpine property: Where to buy your ski chalet?
For those who love to ski on a regular basis, investing in your own ski chalet in the Alps can be a sound financial choice. An enduring favourite due to their proximity to the UK and the variety of ski conditions, the Alps continue to draw in winter sports enthusiasts. In addition, there is a growing move toward year-round tourism, with hiking, golf, and other summer mountain activities on the rise. All of which means that now could be a timely moment to invest in mountain property.
Why to buy in the French Alps
UK buyers have long been attracted to investing in French Alpine real estate, not least because France is one of the most popular destinations for British winter tourists. Aside from the slopes themselves, there are financial incentives that make France an appealing choice for property buyers. Regulation regarding property purchases in France tends to be less onerous than in the neighbouring Swiss Alps, where there are a number of restrictions in place and a cap on second homes. In recent times, the weakness of the Euro has also been advantageous for British buyers when compared with the Swiss Franc, which soared when it was abruptly unpegged from the Euro in January 2015. The Alps undoubtedly remain one of the most expensive places to buy property in France. However, as has been the case throughout the country, prices have flattened since 2007 creating a buyers’ market with bargains to be had.
How to choose the right Alpine property
Alongside the usual due diligence you would want to carry out before buying a property, there are certain additional considerations to bear in mind for Alpine chalets. The altitude of the property’s location is likely to have an impact on the length of the skiing season and the reliability of snow cover, which will in turn determine how long the peak rental season is likely to be. The distance to the nearest airport is also worth taking into account as this will make the property more or less attractive for quick weekend getaways as well as longer trips. As mentioned above, year-round Alpine tourism is increasingly popular too, so properties with access to a range of off-season activities and within reach of other areas of interest may be appealing.
High end ski chalet locations
At the top end of the market, you’ll find properties in resorts such as Courchevel and Megève. The high-spec, beautiful properties here command a premium but are better protected against economic shocks than other locations may be. Meanwhile, Méribel in Les Trois Vallées is a favourite of the British Royal Family. Less exclusive, but still very popular, are resorts such as Val Thorens and also Val d’Isère, which enjoys a famously long ski season.
Alternative Alpine ski property locations
Away from the big reputations and big prices of the premium resorts, there are less well-known locations that could be the ideal solution for some buyers. Indeed, finding a more low-key property outside of the major resorts can be an attraction in itself. Plagne 1800, for example, is a village of traditional chalets slightly away from the buzz of the Tarentaise Valley’s bigger resorts. Avoriaz and Tignes Val Claret are also areas that are often overlooked but warrant further investigation.
Combining profit with pleasure
The popularity of the French Alps with tourists and skiers is such that investing in property in the right location can often make sense from a financial perspective as well as purely for leisure. If you’re tempted by a great locale and amenities, the chances are you’ll find a ready market for holiday rentals. For those without the time or inclination to engage in full-time rental property management throughout the year, there are other options available. For example, signing up with a property management company with a specific mountain property programme, means much of the heavy lifting is done for you. With this route, buyers have the added assurance of knowing that they are buying in a desirable location that already has the backing of property experts. It all depends on how involved you want to be, and how often you want to use your property for your own holidays.
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