French Alps ski property market reviving thanks to low mortgages and new infrastructure

Image The French ski property market is recovering with new build apartments, rather than chalets, are leading the way and interest boosted by new infrastructure projects, new research shows.

Those choosing to buy in key Alpine resorts will also find far more facilities available such as the €36 million mini-resort Mille8 in Les Arcs, a family friendly resort within a resort with new nursery slopes, tobogganing runs, a swimming pool, spa, gym and Courchevel’s €63 million waterpark and spa Aquamotion.

La Compagnie du Mont Blanc announced recently that it would spend €477 million over 40 years on new lifts and pistes in Chamonix while Val d’Isère has just spent €16 million renewing lifts, pistes and restaurants on La Tête de Solaise, immediately above the town.

Rock bottom Euro mortgage rates are another key factors behind the recovery, according to the French Alps Property Report from Erna Low Property. It points out that it is now possible to get a 15 year fixed rate repayment mortgage with the interest set at just 1.4%.

However, it is easier to get a small mortgage than a large one at the moment. Indeed, according to Stephane Briere of French mortgage brokers CAFPI International banks would rather approve 10 €100,000 mortgages than a single €1 million one.

The report suggests that activities and facilities in the summer are as important for buyers in the Alps as the winter sports. Road cycling, mountain biking and trail running have all made the summer fashionable again in the mountains, and buyers want to know what a mountain resort offers in July and August as well as winter. In part, that’s because some are keen runners and cyclists themselves: but also because they’re looking for better rental returns.

Also leaseback schemes, which allow buyers to reclaim the VAT on their property purchase provided they put their apartment into a rental pool are becoming more flexible. In the past, most leasebacks gave owners just three or four weeks’ annual use of their property. But now some allow owners 26 weeks of use along with the full 20% VAT refund.

The report also says that a new wave of developments is giving buyers who are keen skiers the chance to buy back door entry to the world’s most famous ski areas and make big savings in the process.

Buying in Les Menuires, for example, will give the owner the whole of the Three Valleys. Meanwhile, an apartment in Tignes-les-Brevières gives access to the slopes of Val d’Isère.

According to Francois Marchand, Erna Low property director, sales volumes are up, revenues are up, and so too is the average price of each property sold and British buyers are returning but they are more realistic about what buying a second home in the mountains means.

‘These days, our clients see their property purchase as bricks and mortar with benefits, a long term investment whose primary purpose is to improve their quality of life. We’re noticing more and more buyers asking about the summer,’ he said.

‘Suddenly, July and August in the Alps are fashionable again, and it’s beginning to change the balance of power between the high altitude ski areas, and their lower, lusher neighbours,’ he explained, adding that both trends bode well for the long term health of the market.

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BDC 309 : Oct 2023