Prices can reach as high as USD35,500 per sqm
The luxury ski markets in France, Switzerland and Austria are on the up once again thanks to new infrastructure and development, according to a recent Savills report.
Savills’ Ultra-Prime Ski Resorts Index said price growth in Switzerland is partly due to the strong Swiss franc rather than prominent price increases, but the swinging euro had put a dampener on buying second homes in the region, while demand from both sterling and dollar-denominated end users and investors has reinvigorated the market once more.
Among the top current developments include the French resort Courcheval 1850, where prices of the most opulent properties average at around EUR31,340 (USD35,500) per sqm. The Swiss resorts of Gstaad, St Moritz, Zermatt and Verbier follow with average prices between EUR26,450 and EUR31,220 (USD30,000 and USD35,400) per sqm.
“A home in a top-tier Alpine resort is a key component of global property portfolios for the world’s wealthy,” commented Paul Tostevin, associate director of Savills World Research. “A property in Courchevel 1850, Gstaad or St Moritz complements a city residence in London, Paris or Moscow.”
Austria is occasionally seen as the slightly poorer cousin to the luxe ski markets of France and Switzerland but the country’s economy as a whole has seen impressive price growth of 41 percent in the years since 2008 nationwide, offering growth potential to savvy investors.
With improvements in resort infrastructure – such as a planned lift joining Zell Am See to Saalbach – appetite for investment will improve and give way to plenty of room for upward price movements.
Austrian resorts currently offer excellent value for money in comparison with France and Switzerland: average prices in Zell Am See, for instance, range between EUR5,000-7,000 (USD5,700-7,900) per sqm.
The strong franc cooled the market at the start of 2015, especially with foreign buyers, but the market remains resilient with infrastructure investment continuing.
For instance, a new lift was installed from Grimentz to Zinal which spurred new apartment developments, while a lift upgrade is planned for La Tzoumaz and Verbier.
Limited supply of second homes in the Swiss Alps should ensure that demand is kept in check. Some 92 percent of buyers across the Alpine markets now purchase for both their own use and investment so the evergreen appeal of luxury Switzerland shouldn’t wane just yet.
The weak euro has opened up foreign investment opportunities in the region for dollar and sterling denominated buyers and price growth in some areas is impressive. The Chamonix valley, for instance, now sees property prices at around the pre-financial crisis peak of EUR10,000 (USD11,300) per sqm.
Sales volumes in the ski markets of Haute-Savoie and Savoie have actually been more resilient than volumes in the rest of the country, underlining the demand for second-homes in alpine France.
Beyond the Alps
In North America, only Vail can compete with the top luxury Alpine resorts of Courcheval and Gstaad with top-end prices at EUR25,200 (USD28,600).
Savills have identified five emerging ski resort destinations, including the Balkans, South Korea and Japan, which may be of interest to foreign investors.
“We anticipate a continued globalisation of Europe’s top ski resorts as the customer base broadens and attracts a more diverse and market savvy investor,” said Jeremy Rollason, managing director of Alpine Homes in association with Savills.
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