Investor Case Study – Châtel

Good things come in small packages

Buying your first property overseas off-plan and in a location you’d only skied in once before would make most buyers go weak at the knees. But for Mr and Mrs Riley from Suffolk, England, it was the attention to detail given to their research that gave them the extra confidence they needed to complete their first purchase abroad.

They chose Châtel, which has been an increasingly popular resort for international buyers purchasing ski property in the French Alps. Its mix of charm, world-class skiing and recently improved infrastructure has put it firmly on the map.

Yet despite this increasing popularity property prices still haven’t transcended to the levels of its more internationally recognised neighbours. High specification properties in good sizes, are still 25% cheaper here than in its big neighbours of Morzine and Les Gets. For new-build properties, prices have increased by 5-10% over the last 18 months depending on the location.

On Athena and the process…

“We did as much due diligence as we could,” said Mrs Riley, who bought a one bedroom south facing ski apartment with her husband at Les Fermes de Châtel, in the Portes du Soleil ski domain.

“As well as researching the basics like the location and developer, we also looked into the others involved in the project, the management company, Athena Advisors, everyone.”

“We were given a lot of valuable advice by Athena and they really helped us navigate the process. But buying a property abroad can be a nerve-racking experience so you have to give yourself the best possible advice too, and this is where our research came in. “

On Châtel…

“We’d been skiing in Châtel once before and could therefore picture the building which the new development would replace. Using street view helped refresh our memories too and we could also retrace our steps by walking virtually around the resort.”

“The investments into the resort were also a big factor. The new lift to the Linga ski slopes would help the resort and the big new aqua-spa would bring the amenities up to the same level as the big resorts.”

“Châtel is smaller than the other resorts in the Portes du Soleil, but that’s why we like it. It still has its little heart, just like it was a long time ago. The skiing is very good and it is close to Geneva too, so you can be there in a little over an hour.”

“We do lots of walking in the UK, so we’re looking forward to stomping the Alps during the warmer months. Summer is big in the Portes du Soleil, there are a lot of activities for all ages.”

On buying a leaseback…

“Before we started, we didn’t know about the leaseback/Residence de Tourisme programme. It’s a very hands-off way to own a property abroad. It’s still yours of course, you own the freehold title, and you just let other people manage it as a rental property. This also means that things like furniture and parking are included, because that’s what people who stay there on holiday will need.

We hope our two sons will make use of it, especially the youngest. With the cost of a week’s skiing accommodation taken out of the equation should provide some encouragement.”

Rentals…

“You have to choose the rental formula which works best for you depending on how often you want use the property. You then receive a rental yield based on that formula. It’s good to know you can change the formula after three years if your circumstances or requirements change.”

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Occupying a superb position at the base of the ‘Super-Châtel’ front de neige, Les Fermes de Châtel is a collection of new-build ski properties enjoying a prime location at very competitive prices. The project is now largely sold out, though there are other equally well located properties available within our Châtel portfolio.

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