Buyer interest snowballs as prime ski property sector recovers

The prime ski property sector is recovering around the world, with interest from buyers and prices both climbing. As the weak euro boosts the French Alps’ appeal, international demand is expected to keep on snowballing.

Courchevel 1850 is ranked top of the latest Savills Ultra-Prime Ski Resorts Index, with prices rising to €31,340 per square metre for the best units. Close behind are the Swiss resorts of Gstaad, St Moritz, Zermatt and Verbier, with prices ranging between €26,450 and €31,220 per square metre.

Their rankings were achieved less through limited price growth, but on the back of the strong Swiss franc, which was de-pegged from the euro recently. North America, on the other hand, only boasts Vail as a major contender on the prime stage, with prices at €25,200 per square metre.

Paul Tostevin, Associate Director of Savills World Research, comments: “A home in a top-tier Alpine resort is a key component of global property portfolios for the world’s wealthy. A property in Courchevel 1850, Gstaad or St Moritz complements a city residence in London, Paris or Moscow.”

Indeed, buyer interest remains strong in ski property, boosted more than ever by currency exchange rates.

Away from the prime end of the market, the weak euro has sent a flurry of enquiries from British buyers looking for affordable ski opportunities.

Richard Deans of MGM French Properties tells OPP.Today : “Today’s exchange rate means that a €450,000 property is now £55,000 cheaper than it was in March 2014 – a huge incentive for prospective purchasers.”

He highlights a “definite increase” in pre-season enquires across the Alps, with the promise of early snow adding to the euro’s attraction.

“A number of units” have already been reserved during the company’s pre-launch period.

MGM’s confidence in the market is demonstrated by its launch of three new projects in La Plagne, Chamonix and Le Grand Bornand.

The launch arrives as the Post Office’s latest research highlights just how affordable France has become in the wake of the euro’s weakness.

“Skiers heading to many resorts in Europe will benefit from sterling’s increased strength,” comments Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money. “This means that even where local prices have edged up, UK tourists will find the cost of skiing as well as meals and drinks noticeably cheaper this winter.”

While the Canadian dollar’s weakness against the pound has had a similar effect, the strong US dollar has sent the costs for American resorts up the slope: tourist prices have risen by up to 14 per cent in the last year at the American resorts of Winter Park, Vail and Breckenridge.

Even in the US, though, buyers remain keen on ski property: despite the dollar’s strength, Aspen, the premier US ski resort (pictured), has seen more than 80 properties change hands in the first nine months of 2015, nine of them above $10.6m, according to the latest data from Douglas Elliman.

Aspen Highlands is favoured by the locals, notes Knight Frank, partner of Douglas Elliman, while the more affordable Snowmass appeals to families and Buttermilk is considered the best mountain for beginners.

But international interest is “on the rise” as well, with demand increasing from German, French and British investors, plus those from Australia and China.

Photo: Knight Frank