Yes, you need deep pockets to invest in Alpine property

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Four out of five of the world’s most expensive ski resorts are found in the Alps

The Alps, the world’s largest ski market
The Alps, the world’s largest ski market

Our four-part series covers the dip in demand for winter resort properties that’s causing some concern on the slopes of North America, Europe and Japan. Click here to read Part One.

The highly concentrated European market centres, of course, around the Alps – the world’s largest ski market. Attracting 44 percent of global ski visitors, the area – stretching hundreds of miles across France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria – hosts 35 percent of the world’s ski resorts.

Boasting four out of the five of the world’s most expensive resorts (France’s Courchevel 1850 tops the list with one square foot of real estate costing USD3,281, just ahead of Gstaad at USD3,268, closely followed by St Moritz, Zermatt and Verbier), Switzerland dominates the ultra-prime end of the ski property market, and money is constantly being ploughed into improving the region’s already highly developed infrastructure.

“Grimentz gained a new lift in the 2014/15 season, linking it to neighbouring Zinal, and new apartment schemes have followed,” notes Savills in its 2015 Alpine Property Market spotlight.

Courchevel is a long-standing favourite due to its high-end Apres ski options
Courchevel is a long-standing favourite due to its high-end Apres ski options

One of the region’s most significant recent developments was the uncoupling in January 2015 of the Swiss franc from the euro. Anyone lucky enough to purchase a Swiss property before this will have seen their chalet’s value soar by as much as 10 percent since then.

“Although the Swiss franc is currently strong, this, along with economic and political stability (as well as independence) is part of the attraction,” says Jeremy Rollason, managing director of Alpine Homes, exclusive associates of Savills. “Interest rates are also low. The current base rate is minus 0.75 percent.”

More: Why Asian property buyers are hitting the Alps

Some factors are, however, scaring foreign buyers away from the Swiss slopes. As Savills’ Alpine Property Market report explains, “the strength of the franc now means there are fewer non-Swiss buyers in the market and they will be noticing higher maintenance and service costs.”

Meanwhile, restrictions on both new developments and foreigners buying properties have come into play, says Rollason. “In, Gstaad, Zermatt and St Moritz, it is virtually impossible for non-Swiss residents to buy secondary residences, owing to extremely tight communal restrictions.”

Thanks to their relative affordability, French and Austrian resorts have been letting well, “providing good euro income but appreciating less in capital value,” according to Savills.

Click here for Part Three.