The recovery in the Alpine residential real estate market, led by the ultra-prime resorts, has spread to the rest of the region with infrastructure investment spurring new development, according to a new report.
British buyers are returning as a weak euro poses buying opportunities in France, Austria and Italy but a strong Swiss franc has made listing in Switzerland more expensive for foreign buyers, says the report from Savills World Research and Alpine Homes.
Courchevel 1850 tops the Savills ultra-prime ski resorts index with typical prices of €31,340 per square meter for the best listings. The French resort is followed by the Swiss resorts of Gstaad, St Moritz, Zermatt and Verbier at between €26,450 and €31,220 per square meter.
In spite of limited price growth, a strong Swiss franc has pushed these markets up the rankings in currency terms, the report explains. In North America, only Vail is on par with the top European competition at €25,200 per square meter.
‘A home in a top tier Alpine resort is a key component of global listing portfolios for the world’s wealthy. A listing in Courchevel 1850, Gstaad or St Moritz complements a city residence in London, Paris or Moscow,’ said Paul Tostevin, associate director of Savills World Research.
According to Jeremy Rollason, managing director, Alpine Homes, 2015 has been a tale of two currencies for UK buyers in the Alps. ‘The de-peg of the Swiss franc caught markets off guard, but sterling has since recovered and now trades within a 5% range of the pre-January 2015 exchange rate,’ he said.
‘The weakening euro has helped buyers in euro denominated countries. Currency swings have the effect of either suppressing or stimulating markets through affordability, but the net effect has little influence on listing values per se,’ he added.
The report shows that buying activity in the Swiss resorts cooled in 2015 with foreign buyers, particularly important to the top end of the market, impacted by the strong Swiss franc. However, despite limited supply of second homes, investment in infrastructure continues and the cache of Swiss resorts remains.
Grimentz gained a new lift in the 2014/2015 season linking to neighbouring Zinal and new apartment schemes have followed. La Tzoumaz is also set for revival thanks to a planned lift upgrade, improving connectivity with neighbouring Verbier.
Villars, a year round resort with high quality international schools, has seen high levels of new supply in recent years and has suffered from poor snowfall. This has had some impact on pricing and, for those who shop around, there are deals to be done. Prime apartments here trade at between CHF10,000 and CHF12,000 per square meter.
The Austrian Alpine resort market has remained strong on the back of a vibrant local economy, which has generated house price growth nationally of 41% since 2008 and the report says that Austria continues to offer excellent value for money compared to the more established French and Swiss resorts. Committed investment in resort infrastructure and investor appetite means there is still room for upward price movement.
It also points out that many Austrian resorts are dual season. Zell am See listing prices continue to rise due to high demand and low supply, yet still represent value for money. Prices here range from €5,000 to €7,000 per square meter and a planned lift linking Zell am See to neighbouring Saalbach will only serve to increase its appeal.
Sales volumes in the ski regions of Haute-Savoie and Savoie have held up better than the rest of France whilst a weaker euro has opened up investment opportunities for dollar and sterling denominated buyers.
Val d’Isere has seen premium restaurants and boutiques open. Popular with the UK market, there is strong rental potential with yields of around 3.5% gross achievable for top chalets while the Chamonix Valley continues to see demand led recovery and prices are now at or around the pre-crisis peak of €10,000 per square meter.
US and Canadian ski resorts are spread across three major mountain ranges, a geographic area ten times the size of the Alps but while Vail and Whistler are resorts of worldwide renown, both are reliant mainly on domestic buyers, the report points out.
Prices in North American resorts remain below their 2007 high but top tier US resorts do offer potential, according to Tostevin. ‘The US is home to the largest number of wealthy individuals globally, so with the right product there remains a ready demand base to tap in the home market,’ he said.
The report identified five emerging destinations and resorts opening up to an international market. The Balkans, on the edge of the large European market, already attract British and Russian skiers and Pyeongchang, South Korea, is the 2018 host for the Winter Olympics.
It explains that international investors have been attracted by special visa investor programmes for South Korea and Japan’s Niseko has an established luxury residential market, supported by those from China, Singapore, Malaysia and Korea, as well as domestic demand.
‘We anticipate a continued globalisation of Europe’s top ski resorts as the customer base broadens and attracts a more diverse and market savvy investor,’ Rollason concluded.
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Source: Property News Spain