Expert tips for buying French ski properties

Expectations are that 2014 will be a favourable time to buy a ski property in France, following on from the Alpine real estate market’s upbeat 2013; however, on-line estate agency advises anyone planning to invest in the Alps this year to get to grips with its five key tips.

“Conditions for foreign buyers in the French Alps remain advantageous, especially with the weakening of the euro. However, we advise buyers not to rush into a purchase but to enter into it with their eyes wide open and to think with their head and not their heart,” explains Julian Walker, Director at “Typical buyers are experienced skiers, and while they have visited and fallen in love with numerous resorts, not all would be ideal places to own a ski pad,” he added. urges buyers to take note of the following when planning their purchase in 2014:

Look closely at location
Think about transfer times to the nearest airport, as well as frequency and cost of flights – this is especially important if you plan to take long weekend breaks. In the Savoie and Haute Savoie regions, there are plenty of resorts within 90 minutes, some less, from Geneva Airport. Who you expect to use the property most should also influence which resort you choose. If it’ll be used mostly by a young family, check if the resort is suitable on and off the slopes for children. On another level, within your chosen resort, ski-in ski-out is always preferable, as is being a short walk from the lifts. Meanwhile, resorts undergoing major development, such as at Tignes 1800, or ski lift upgrades will add to a property’s investment value.

Check seasonality
Spending time in the Alps can be just as enjoyable during the warmer months as during the ski season. The scenery is stunning – with or without snow – and there are plenty of activities to do. For year-round usage, choose a resort that doesn’t completely shut down once the snow has disappeared, offers dual season facilities and has good access to an extensive network of trails.

Benefit from new-build
When purchasing on a new development, your property will come with a guarantee from the builder, a two-year exemption from Taxe Foncière council tax, modern new fixtures, fittings and communal facilities, the potential for capital growth and typically the offer of a finance deal. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a new-build or your requirements suit a particular resale property, take that option – but always consider new-build.

Consider leaseback
Popular in the French Alps, leaseback is a way to make a ski property bought in 2014 help pay for itself in years to come. You exchange the freedom of having the property available at all times and under your control for the peace of mind of guaranteed rental return and someone else managing it and the communal areas of the ‘résidence’. There is flexibility too – different leaseback packages offer different levels of personal usage each year.

Think about finance
With French mortgage rates likely to remain at historic lows in 2014 and the pound getting stronger against the euro, it could make financial sense to purchase using euro-based finance. See what each developer can offer you, but typical rates for repayment mortgages for non-resident buyers are comfortably below 3 per cent.