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Why now is a good time to buy in the French Alps

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We have two kinds of client contacting us with a view to purchasing in the Alps: those looking to invest in a chalet or apartment to enjoy their holidays all year long and those looking to invest and maybe also get a few weeks holiday in their property.

In the Alps, we always start with the location which is crucial. There are various places, resorts, villages or towns with a different feel to them. For clients who are used to a large skiing area like the 3 Valleys, Espace Killy, Paradiski or les Portes du Soleil, it is difficult to 'downsize' to a skiing area of less than 100km. And while a client might be blown away by the prettiness of a village, its is important to think long term and imagine skiing every year for the next foreseeable years on a smaller skiing area and let them decide if they would actually enjoy this. For clients looking for a ski-in ski-out apartment on a large skiing area with restaurants on the doorstep the usual suspects are Méribel, Val Thorens, La Plagne, Les Arcs or Tignes (amongst others). These resorts have a good selection of properties from studios to large chalets and cater for all range of budgets. We have our 'favourite' spots like the resort of Arc 1950 which is the perfect family destination, with ski-in ski-out cosy apartments which all have access to a swimming pool, a gym, a steam room and a sauna. There are activities all year round and the village is pedestrianised. For clients looking for a pretty chalet away from the hustle and bustle of busy resorts but still with easy access to the slopes, there are charming villages like St Martin de Belleville in the 3 Valleys or Tignes Les Brévières which provide exactly that.

We also have to keep our eyes open for new opportunites and up and coming places...this winter we spotted the village of Morillon which is a traditional charming Savoyard village in the Giffre Valley with direct access to the Grand Massif skiing area. The Grand Massif has 265km of pistes and includes the resort of Flaine. Morillon is only 1 hour from Geneva and 15 minutes from the motorway exit and the TGV station of Cluses. The village is developing wth a large new swimming pool being built, new lifts and snow canons and new property developments in chalet styles. Some of our clients bought properties in a development right on the pistes.

After the location criteria, there are the standard property criteria like the number of bedrooms, budget, style, orientation etc...and even in those we try to be creative. For example, this winter we suggested a client combine 2 apartments in a chalet in Samoens to create a large 4 bed apartment. The construction had just started and it was still possible to change the layout to create the perfect property for our client who has also decided on every aspect of the interior finishes. We have worked hand in hand with the client and can't wait to see the final result.

Then we have the 'investors' for whom the rental income and good value for money are the main criteria. We have access to some resale property portfolios of investors looking to sell quickly and for that reason the properties are below market value. Some are with a guaranteed rental income, others are perfect pied à terres with the possibility of renting while benefiting from a superb location. We have studios on the pistes in Val Thorens at 70,000€. With the current exchange rate 70,000€ is £50,000..

As it usually takes around 3 months to go through the purchase process, the summer season is perfect timing for investing in the Alps as it gives you the opportunity to benefit from the property for the next skiing season. It is also a good time to negotiate as there are usually less property viewings and owners who haven't sold in the winter season are usually then more open to offers.

Kristell Thornton, Director, Secondhome






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