Demand still strong for French ski homes

MARKET OVERVIEW

“The market is quite strong thanks to international demand,” said Gregory Flon, director of Cimalpes Real Estate Immobilière in Les Trois Vallées. But he added that buyers were being choosy.

Matthew Hodder-Williams, who oversees sales in the Alps for the London firm Knight Frank, said the market in Courchevel and the neighboring Three Valleys resort, Méribel, had been insulated from the market woes of other Alpine resorts because buyers traditionally paid in cash. As a result, “prices came down quicker and by greater amounts in Chamonix than in Courchevel, Méribel and Val d’Isère,” Mr. Hodder-Williams said, referring to another ski resort in the Rhône-Alpes region. 

WHO BUYS IN LES TROIS VALLÉES

“All nationalities are in Courchevel,” said Didier Devillers, the listing agent for this property and the owner of DMD Immobilier, a Courchevel real estate company. Mr. Hodder-Williams described the area as popular with buyers from Paris and Lyon, but also as a second-home destination for people of all nationalities who live in Geneva.

There are significant numbers of Italian and Russian buyers, he said, adding that since economic conditions had stabilized somewhat, “the English are back again.” Courchevel is also a destination for tourists from Brazil and Turkey, but Mr. Hodder-Williams says they usually rent rather than buy.

BUYING BASICS

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers, said Mr. Flon. Legal fees run 1 to 1.5 percent of the purchase price, according to Mr. Devillers.

Stamp duty and transfer taxes vary depending on whether a property is new or being resold. For a new property, or a property sold only once during its first five years, stamp duty and transfer taxes add up to 1 percent of the purchase price. (These incentives to buy newer properties have a flip side, Mr. Devillers explained: Sellers must pay a value-added tax on their profits.)

According to him, stamp duty and transfer taxes constitute about 5 percent of the purchase price of most resale properties. Financing is available for French citizens and foreigners. Mr. Devillers says interest rates are currently running 3.4 to 3.7 percent.

Source: New York Times

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