Feb 13, 2023 / BUYING

Buying ski property overseas? Read this first

There are many things to consider when hunting out ski property for sale. Do you want an apartment or a chalet?

Are you looking within a purpose-built resort or a place in a working village? Is your ideal spot a dual-season resort? Among all these aspects, it's easy to forget the mechanics of buying as a foreign investor. This article looks at three of the most sought-after resorts in Europe to give you insight into how open they are to foreign investment. 

Why are there incentives for foreign investment?

Ski resorts need skiers to survive. Investment properties offer vast potential for swathes of visitors. Still, they also bring the danger of properties left empty for long periods - something that can have a significant impact on a resort and a lasting negative effect. Fortunately, countries with established ski resorts understand this and have introduced various measures to combat this, so the resort is an attractive place to visit all year round and offers a viable income for business owners. This protects your investment by ensuring you have a ski property in an area that's great to visit, provides an excellent rental yield and maintains resale potential. 

Buying a ski property in France

France is entirely open to foreign investments and offers a clever incentive to encourage investors to use their holiday home as a rental property off-season. Anyone buying a ski chalet or apartment in France can benefit from the VAT refund scheme, potentially saving you 20% on your ski property purchase. 

Exquisite views, superbly appointed - this sumptuous property in Courchevel has it all

What is the VAT incentive for buying a ski property in France? 

In a nutshell, if you're buying a new build ski property in France, you can reclaim 20% VAT. There are some conditions, but overall the scheme is a clear incentive designed to encourage investment and holiday letting. You can read about the scheme in detail in this article. 

If you'd prefer to buy an older style ski chalet in France, you can do so - there are no restrictions on overseas investors buying ski property. Those outside the EU will find more paperwork to do, but the process is relatively straightforward other than this minor inconvenience. 

If the 20% VAT incentive tempts you, then properties from MGM or Alpine Lodges could be an ideal opportunity. They combine the privacy of apartment living with the sumptuous facilities and have a massive appeal for visitors and longer-term residents alike. For those looking for an older property, our France ski property pages showcase our latest chalets and apartments, with the option to create a tailored search.

Buying a ski property in Switzerland

Overseas investors can buy property in Switzerland, but there are some restrictions. As a foreign investor, you can buy in the following cantons

  • Bern, 
  • Graubünden
  • Uri, 
  • Obwalden
  • Vaud 
  • Valais

vailable to international buyers, Hard Rock Residences Davos offer five star facilities in your own private apartment

The good news is that these are key tourism areas and places that highly appeal to visitors, making them a superb investment opportunity. 

Other restrictions are around the property size available to a foreign investor and further details set out by the Lex Koller law. That said, some areas, such as Andermatt, where the property is in short supply, have been granted exemption from this law, giving more flexibility for international buyers. Saas Fee also offers slightly lower levels of restrictions for EU citizens, as long as they buy according to the guidelines around second home ownership. New build properties also attract rules, although a new swathe of hotel-style resorts, such as Hard Rock Residences Davos, have been made available to overseas investors. 

Whilst these restrictions can seem off-putting, they represent positive action to preserve the character and charm of this unique area. Rather than being a deterrent to investment, they serve to make the property even more attractive. If you would like to buy in Switzerland, our property alert system can help you stay ahead of the game, and our buyer's guide gives a unique insight into the permits and processes involved in securing a space in this sought-after country, 

Buying a ski property in Austria

For those who live in the EU or the European Economic Area, buying a ski property in Austria is pretty straightforward. Local guidelines around the use of holiday homes stipulate that the property must be available to rent for a certain amount of time. As with other alpine regions, this is designed to maintain a steady stream of visitors to a region and ensure a buoyant local economy. 

If you are not resident in the EU or EEA, then you can still buy a ski property in Austria in some parts of Austria, such as Pinzgau and Styria; you simply need to obtain a foreign purchase permit. Resorts in these areas are subject to the same guidelines as resorts across Austria, designed to manage the number of holiday homes in any one area. Again these guidelines are not intended to exclude but to create vibrant communities that are attractive places to live, work and holiday. 

Rules do vary from province to province and even town to town. Suppose there is a particular area you have set your sights on. In that case, you can find out about the guidelines for international buyers on the Austrian government website. And our property alert system can help you ensure you don't miss out on your perfect Austrian ski property. 

Find ski property for sale

Ski property in France is the most straightforward option for international buyers. But this doesn't mean other key ski areas are out of reach. With a bit of research into the local guidelines for international ownership, you can find your perfect ski property. 

As a ski property portal, SnowOnly offers access to thousands of ski properties, so you can be confident that you see the most up-to-date market information without the pain of trawling dozens of agents. We offer a helpful property alert system and numerous articles and buyer's guides to help you secure your dream mountain retreat.