Finding that perfect ski property for sale in the French Alps is no small task. Whether it’s about owning a chalet in Val d’Isère for Christmas breaks or extended summer escapes, or an apartment in Méribel for that weekend ski getaway, there are dozens of alpine ski resorts, each with their own characters and fortés. At Athena Advisers, we have scoured the entire French ski property market to select only the best ski chalets and most desirable apartments across the French Alps most popular ski resorts. Our property experts, who all have an intimate understanding of the properties and ski resorts, will guide you through the entire buying process, from securing a mortgage to organising a VAT rebate and purchase completion.
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Home to around 250 individual ski resorts, investors are spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a destination in the French Alps. The best resort depends on what individuals want to get out of their French ski property. If you have a young family, you should look out for resorts that have been awarded the Famille Plus label such as Les Gets, Courchevel, Val d’Isère and Méribel. Having satisfied more than 110 scrupulous requirements, these resorts have excellent infrastructure, services and attractions for families with children.
You should also think carefully about the plot within your chosen resort. Do you want to be located right in the heart of the resort with everything on the doorstep, but possibly with higher prices, or would you prefer a property in a more private location?
As well as thinking about the variety of slopes, you should also think about the summer appeal of the resort. The French Alps are a fantastic destination for summer break and many resorts now offer a diverse range of outdoor activities and cultural events in the warmer months too. One of our most popular dual-season resorts is Les Gets which turns into a mountain bike paradise as the snow melts away and is the host of the MTB World Cup. Méribel is also another great dual-season resort as in the summer there is an 18-hole golf course to enjoy and ribbons of hiking trails to explore. Cycling enthusiasts can also take on the new Col de la Loze cycle path which was featured in the Tour de France 2020 and was the highest part of the tour, reaching 2,304m in altitude.
For more information about buying a ski property in France, please visit our Complete Guide to Buying Ski Property in the French Alps. It includes detailed insight from our team of local ski property experts and all the information you will need to help you on your exciting journey to buying a ski property in France.
Ski from home: In response to the pandemic, many of us have been working from home and it is expected that many will continue to do so or adopt a hybrid approach in the future, only heading to the office for a few days a week. This exciting shift in office culture means that many individuals no longer need to worry about their proximity to the office, giving them the freedom to relocate or spend periods of time in destinations that they love. With a fantastic sporty winter season and a delightful summer, the French Alps are an obvious choice for those who love skiing, the outdoors and want to fully experience the mountain art de vivre. Larger ski apartments and chalets often come with additional quieter spaces such as libraries, smaller sitting rooms or studies which are perfect for working from home. If there isn’t a suitable room already, it is often possible to adapt the layout of a new-build property so that it includes a quiet space for working away from the main living areas.
Generate great rental yields: Home to the world’s largest interconnected ski area, the Three Valleys, and many of the world’s most prestigious ski resorts, there is a strong demand for rental properties in the French Alps. Plus, with many resorts undergoing infrastructure improvements and the ever-increasing popularity of summer tourism, it is expected that this demand will continue to grow. When combined with the VAT rebate programme for new-build French ski properties, renting out your ski residence when you are not using it yourself is a great way to generate additional income. In some cases, it is possible to buy a property that pays for itself through rental income.
Capital appreciation and a nest egg for the future: With a very limited amount of buildable land and strong lifestyle appeal, prime property in the French Alps represents an attractive long-term investment, allowing owners to benefit from capital appreciation upon resale. According to the latest Alpine Property Focus from UBS, the prime resorts of Val d’Isère Courchevel, Mèribel, Megève and Chamonix-Mont-Blanc saw prices rise by 2.8% on average over the past five years. All of these resorts have also benefited from capital appreciation between 2020 and 2021; Val d’Isère led the way with prices per sqm rising by 4.1%.
In the French Alps, there are two main types of properties for sale: ski apartments and ski chalets. Ski chalets are usually larger and detached which means that they usually offer more privacy than a ski apartment and have more space for private facilities such as spas, gyms and cinema rooms. However, that is not to say that ski apartments are always small. The array of apartments is increasingly diverse, ranging from compact studio apartments through to duplex and triplex properties with an array of private or communal facilities to boot like Manali Lodge which boasts a communal pool, spa and two restaurants.
Over the last few years, new-build properties have become highly sought after due to the lower buying costs (2%-2.5% vs 7-8% for resale ski properties) and the ability to recuperate 20% VAT from the purchase price. This has led to trends of larger family-sized new-build apartments and even semi-chalets becoming in-demand.
Then, as most resorts have grown, some considerably, since the European skiing boom of the 1980s, the local councils are becoming increasingly stringent with the number of new ski properties that can be developed. This has put new-build properties of all types, be it a chalet, apartment or penthouse, even higher in demand.
Often offering larger spaces and more privacy than a ski apartment, for many, owning a ski chalet is the perfect way to experience the French Alps. The array of ski chalets for sale is incredibly diverse, ranging from historic chalets which have become icons in their own resorts through to new-build chalets with every creature comfort imaginable. Thanks to their spacious interiors, ski chalets are perfect for those who want their own private facilities such as spas, swimming pools, gyms and cinemas rooms. We’ve even seen chalets with rock climbing walls – the sky is the limit!
For more advice on choosing a chalet, head to Athena Journal and see our top ten tips for buying a ski chalet in the French Alps to learn more about the key factors to take into consideration.
When choosing a French ski property for sale, you will need to think about whether you want to buy a brand-new ski property or resale one as each property type comes with a unique set of advantages.
Though the purchase price is often higher than that of an equivalent resale property, one of the advantages of new-build properties is that the property has never been occupied before which means there will be no wear and tear damage or any need to renovate. New-build ski properties have a unique set of financial benefits too as they enjoy reduced notary fees of 2-2.5% and the future owner can also recuperate VAT from the property purchase price if they decide to rent out their ski property on an ongoing basis. However, these properties are usually sold off-plan which means that you will not see the final product until it has been delivered. Nevertheless, CGIs, VRs and plot tours can help you get a feel for the finished product.
On the other hand, resale ski properties have already been delivered which means that not only can prospective buyers visit the property in person and get a real feel for it, but they can move into almost straight away too. Whilst resale properties are often cheaper than their new-build equivalents, do factor in that resale properties have notary fees of 7-8% and some renovation work may be required. This means that the sale price of the property may not reflect the true cost.
France’s ultra-low mortgages rates are one of the important things to consider when buying a property in the French Alps. Mortgage rates in France are amongst the lowest in Europe and, due to the long-term fixed-rate nature of the products in the market, it enables buyers of Alpine property to carefully plan out the finances of their ski property investment.
As a ballpark figure, non-residents buying ski properties for sale in the French Alps can currently access mortgages with fixed interest rates as low as 1.85% for properties in excess of €1.5m with 85% LTV, depending on the profile of the buyer. In addition, buyers with a strong tie to France can access even lower rates.
Helping more than 90% of applicants secure a mortgage offer, our sister company French Private Finance can help investors find the most competitive French mortgage to finance their ski property and guide them through the entire process.
If the owner of a new-build ski chalet or apartment in the French Alps intends to rent it on an ongoing basis when they are not using the property, it is possible to reclaim the 20% VAT from the purchase price. It is a very popular option and more than 80% of our clients who purchase a ski property in the French Alps choose to take advantage of this incentive. For a fee, our experienced in-house team can manage the reclamation process and we can also introduce you to a trusted rental management agency.
To apply for this, the ski property will need to be rented furnished, on a short-term basis, with 3 hotel-type services in place. Hotel services include cleaning, linen change, check-in or providing a breakfast.
To learn more about this incentive and how to maximise the rental potential of your property, take a look at our complete guide to renting out French ski property.
It wasn’t long ago that the Alpine summer season used to be a cursory add-on for a ski resorts tourism economy. However, particularly over the last 10 years, the summer seasons in the French Alps’ most popular ski resorts have grown, way beyond the normal 6-8 weeks school holiday seasons, attracting a diverse tourism base from around the world. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of visitors to the French Alps in the summer within the Savoie region grew by 1.2 million people.
Despite the challenges of 2020, the French Alps were hugely popular, especially with domestic tourists, this summer with Les Carroz seeing occupancy rates of 70% during August.
For those already owning or looking to buy a ski property for sale in the French Alps, this means that the summer months now not only provide a constantly growing variety of activities and events but also provide those renting their properties with additional weeks of potential rental revenue. View our Summer in the French Alps guide here.
From meetings and virtual tours via video calling to using drones to give you an impression of the views from each level of a new-build property, we have all the tools and processes in place to help you invest from the comfort of your home.
With more than 1,400 attendees since launching in March, our webinar series has proved to be extremely popular and we are consistently adding new sessions as well as sharing replays of past events. From resort-focused webinars through sessions which look at the VAT rebate programme and French mortgages, our webinars are a great place to start if you are considering investing in ski property in the French Alps. Head to our events page to see all of our upcoming webinars.