In its latest analysis of the ski property market, Knight Frank has found that Alpine ski resorts that are seriously ramping up their facilities to serve up as dual season destinations may be in demand more, from the buyers as wells as visitors. It is not only about ski facilities as non-skiers now constitute some 25% of Alpine visitors.
Those that are offering a range of year round activities such as Chamonix, Gstadd and Courchevel 1650 are outperforming the wider Alps market, the report shows. Water parks, spas and mountain bike trails are helping to broaden their appeal.
The report says that buyers increasingly fall into two camps; those seeking a dual season resort to maximise year round rentals and those targeting high altitude resorts offering reliable winter snowfall.
Chamonix has overtaken Val d’Isère and Gstaad this year to take the top spot in the annual price growth rankings. The resort, which is widely-regarded as the most well equipped year round resort in the Alps, has now seen prime prices increase by almost 5% for two consecutive years.
Overall, the index, which tracks prices across 16 ski resorts, declined by 1.8% in 2017 year on year. However, French resorts saw prices rise by 1% on average, whilst their Swiss neighbours recorded a 5% dip over the 12 month period.
Val d’Isère and Gstaad occupy second and third position this year, recording annual price growth of 2.5% and 1.8% respectively. At an altitude of 1,850 meters Val d’Isère offers one of the longest seasons due to its reliable snow cover.
Price growth in Gstaad, last year’s highest performer, remains in positive territory with a lack of supply supporting prices. The resort is also popular with those seeking permanent residency due to the quality of its international schools, the report explains.
The majority of the Swiss resorts sit towards the foot of the index as the strength of the Swiss Franc and restrictions on foreign buyers have prompted some hesitancy on the part of buyers. This, combined with a degree of intransigence on the part of vendors has slowed sales and also reduced budgets meaning the market below CHF2 million is the most active.
In St Moritz, the market has proved mixed with the area close to Suvretta House and the centre of the resort seeing strong growth over the last 12 months but other, more peripheral areas have seen activity and prices decline.
Villars’ annual decline of 5% comes despite strong investment in the resort’s infrastructure as well as its ski and non-ski amenities but Knight Frank predicts that this will translate into price growth in the coming two to three years.
Tucked within the Canton of Valais, the resort of Crans Montana saw prices slip 15% in the year to June 2017 as older stock accounted for a large proportion of the inventory and vendors displayed a greater willingness to negotiate on price.
The Three Valley resorts of Courchevel and Méribel recorded similar levels of growth of around 1% this year, marginally lower than last year but a weak pound, Brexit and the French election saw the French property market as a whole pause for breath in the first half of 2017.
‘Unless resorts adapt and deliver what the new generation of skiers want, they will see tourist numbers decline. For those seeking to buy a ski home, it’s logical that they will target those resorts who keep ahead of the curve in an effort to maximise rental bookings and as a result improve yields,’ the report points out.
‘Investment should also boost the resort’s permanent population, which in turn will lead to increased services and amenities in the form of schools, healthcare, transport etc. Such provisions as evident in Chamonix, now home to over 13,000 residents, further cement the town’s reputation as a dual season resort,’ it adds.
It is a very exciting time to be investing in the Alps, according to Roddy Aris of Knight Frank International. ‘There are of course challenges ahead such as the long term implications of Brexit and the erratic winter seasons but the draw of the mountains has never been stronger,’ he said.
‘Resorts are having to evolve and adapt to meet the demands of today’s buyers. Huge investments have been pledged across the Alps from artificial snow making facilities to adapting and evolving activities for the summer and family market. The key to a good purchase is that the property is purchased at the correct market value and the asset proves highly rentable,’ he added.