words Julian Walker
One glance at any portfolio of ski chalets for sale, and you will see an impressive variety in France, Italy, and Switzerland. This real estate niche stands in a league of its own and is the upper end of the real estate market.
It is also a popular choice for many buy-to-let investors because, in the right place, they reap high rental yields. However, whether you want to invest in one for capital growth, your skiing haven or to earn rental income, entering this niche of the property market should be done with careful research to maximise your investment. Jumping straight into the deep end may end up with you buying an overpriced chalet that doesn’t reap the rewards. So, what do you need to know?
Buying Ski Chalets for Sale
1: Traditional Alpine Architecture
Traditionally, herders used chalets when they moved their cattle further up the plateaus in summer. In the chalets, they stored dairy products, and cattle stayed on the bottom floor, to generate rising heat. They were never permanent dwellings. When tourism took off in the late 1930s, their purpose changed into hotel accommodation. Thus, design and practicality also altered slightly. Always choose a chalet featuring traditional alpine architecture because these keep their value and attract renters. Admittedly, alpine towns and villages now set rules for new developments to feature time-honoured architecture. Aspects to look for include gable sloping roofs with eaves, and balconies or terraces, sometimes crafted with geometric shapes. Some old chalets even have the original owner’s initials carved above the front door. Construction materials can also be stone and / or a combination of wood.
2: Luxury Interior Décor and Ski-in Ski Out
While keen real estate developers maintain their traditional alpine architecture, it does not mean forsaking the luxuries of modern living—the more luxury, the better. Look for hot tubs, ensuite bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes, a storage locker, wine cellar, and in your top-notch millionaire chalets, swimming pools, and home gyms. Another determining factor about a chalet’s value and worth is whether it is ski-in ski-out. This is the most sought-after accommodation and if renting out, can be the deciding factor as to whether the renters choose your property or somewhere else. The basic notion of this is you should be able to ski to and from the slopes. Prime French resorts known for their ski in ski out chalets include Courchevel, Megeve, Tignes, Les Gets and Chamonix.
3: Backdoor and Dual Season Resorts
This exclusive and upmarket niche means finding cheap properties is impossible. However, if you do have a budget to stick to, consider backdoor resorts. These towns and villages have access to the same slopes but offer lower property prices than neighbouring ski resorts. Also called satellite resorts, examples in France include Combloux instead of Megeve, Tignes as an alternative to Val d’Isère, and Les Gets to well-known Chamonix. When choosing a destination, also look for dual season resorts. The skiing industry is changing to capitalise on year-round tourism opportunities, and as such, many places now offer summer activities like biking, trekking, swimming, and adventure sports. Resorts like this include Samoens and Alpe d’Huez.
4: Resort Amenities and Investment
When you start looking at chalets, do not just concentrate on the property itself. Pay as much attention to resort amenities and more importantly, what is happening with investment. For example, Val d’Isère attracted much attention when it upgraded its gondola lifts and embarked on the Le Coin project that saw the modernisation of its town centre and transport structures. Seek out shops, restaurants, transport links and more importantly, the après ski social scene. After all, who wants to buy in a lively resort when you have a young family of children. One more aspect, many buyers often forget is off-slope activities. Not everyone wants to be on the slopes 24 / 7. If you have plans to rent out, also find out what the resort offers snowboarding fans.
5: Altitude and Airport Transfer Times
Diehard ski fans want the best of the best. The Three Valleys or Portes de Soleil areas have a decent selection of runs and off-piste skiing. Generally, the higher the altitude of the resort, the more snowfall, and a more extended season. Lastly, also check your transfer time from the nearest airport. Some people don’t want a 3-hour drive after a long flight. To gain an idea of the market, and start your property search, see our property portfolio of chalets in Switzerland and France. Each listing contains everything to know, including prices, photos, location and how to arrange a viewing or find out more via email.
About the Author: Julian Walker is owner and director of skiingproperty.com. Established in 2003, Julian and his team of local real estate agents keep up to date with developments in the property market and can advise anyone looking at ski chalets for sale. Get in contact for more information.