Nov 15, 2018 / AGENT'S INSIGHTS

Market Update From Lesley Thomas, Alpine Property Investments recently spoke to Lesley Thomas of Alpine Property Investments. Lesley was kind enough to answer some questions that buyers should find very useful when considering a ski property purchase.

Alpine property Investments are specialists in both ski and lakeside properties in the French and Swiss alps as well as Canada. The company was formed in 2005, after purchasing their first property in Switzerland so API was born through giving buyers firsthand experience of the buying process. They now have around 300 properties listed on SnowOnly, and you can also contact them here: Alpine property investments

SnowOnly with Lesley Thomas of Alpine Property Investments

SO: Where do you see as the best place for investment in the Alps?

API: This is always an interesting question to answer! With the snowfall over the last 3 – 4 years particularly at the beginning and the end of the season, this has generally seen clients with a higher altitude in mind. The 3 Valleys resorts of Meribel and Courchevel along with the likes of Val d’Isère and Tignes all prove to be popular.

For us, right now the Alpe d’Huez ski region is very much the place in focus, thanks to its high altitude skiing, easy access to Grenoble (50 minutes away) and Lyon airports (multiple daily flights), excellent value for money and the future proposed Alpe d’Huez – Les Deux Alpes – Les Sybelles, a 800km linked ski domain. All of these factors are making it a great investment area.

The satellite resorts of Vaujany and Oz en Oisans are very popular right now thanks to easy links into the Alpe d’Huez network as well as being excellent dual season villages, very much on the road and mountain bike global calendars.

SO: Where have your buyers come from historically and do you see this changing in the future?

API: With the internet making searching for overseas property a simple and straight forward process, you never know where the next buyer is coming from. Over the years we have had buyers from the USA, Canada, South America, UK, Africa, Australia, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and mainland Europe including Germany, France, Italy, Belgium as well as Scandinavia.

With such a diverse portfolio of properties on offer we really don’t expect to see any change to this pattern in the future.

SO: Has there been any impact for UK buyers in regard to Brexit?

API: The Brexit factor has certainly seen an impact on the volume of enquiries coming through, but this has seen a significant drop in window shoppers. In fact since Brexit, the conversion rate of enquiry to purchase has risen dramatically as these buyers are serious and wanting to get on with things.

I am sure there are buyers out there that are waiting to see what will happen in the coming weeks, but as soon as the snow falls and the slopes are open, the draw to owning a property in the Alps gets more and more interesting.

SO: What type of property do you see as the best sellers, 1 bed, 2 bed etc...

API: As we never know who is going to contact us next about the properties we sell, we offer apartments and chalets ranging in size from 1 – 7+ bedrooms, simply because no two clients’ circumstances are ever the same. The number of bedrooms a client chooses can also be influenced by their budget and the resort they want to buy in.

That said, most of the buyers we work with have families with 2 or more children. For this purpose these clients are really looking for at least 3 bedrooms. Properties in this category can take the form of 2 double bedrooms plus Cabine (single bunk bedroom) known in France as a “T3C” or 3 doubles or “T4”.

Another popular type of buyer that we experience a lot is the one with extended family members who will be staying, or those planning to bring 2 families together for their holidays. This leads to clients needing at least 4 bedrooms, known as a “T5”.

SO: Are people buying for lifestyle or purely investment?

API: Since setting Alpine Property Investments up in 2005, the main driving force behind our buyers of overseas ski property has definitely been lifestyle. Any return on investment by renting the property out when not in use, is purely a bonus.

This is not to say buyers are not also combining lifestyle with where they should invest for the long-term capital growth of their purchase. The introduction of new lifts, linking of ski domains, opening of regional airports are all big drivers for property price increases throughout the period of ownership.

SO: Near which resorts do you see the strongest sales activity?

API: Many buyers already know exactly where they want to purchase before they even contact us, hence finding clients wanting to buy property all over the Alps.

Resort popularity can also be cyclical depending on whether there are projects available in that village during the year.

Factors that certainly help dictate the most popular resorts for buying in include:

  • Need for a dual season village to enjoy both in the winter and summer.
  • Easy access to an airport.
  • Introduction of new / future infrastructure.
  • A big ski area with higher altitude skiing allowing for an early and late start/finish to the season.

This year, the most popular resorts for sales have definitely been in the Alpe d’Huez ski domain, in particular the traditional dual season villages of Vaujany and Oz en Oisans where we are selling a wide range of apartments and chalets at very affordable prices.

In addition to the 250km ski domain with altitudes of 3000m and one of the world’s longest downhill descents, the area is extremely popular in the summer as a mecca for cyclists. Boasting the Tour de France, Criterium du Dauphine and numerous amateur road cycling competitions, for those mountain bike lovers, the French National Championships and world famous Megavalanche takes place every year.

SO: What is your outlook for the ski property market?

API: With developers already launching or preparing to launch new multi million Euro developments right across the Alps ahead of this winter season, the ski market has never looked better.

Still fresh in the mind is the amazing snow we had last season combined with the early snow we had in the Alps at the end of October. This all ensures continued excitement in the property market in the build up to the start of the season.

SO: What are your hopes for the upcoming winter season?

API: Many resorts like Courchevel experienced their biggest snowfall during December 2017 compared to the last 20 years. How perfect would it be if the season started this way again in 2018?

SO: Which property that you have on your books do you wish you owned?

API: This is an interesting question with no definitive answer as different properties and different resorts all work toward being or being home to the ideal property.

For proximity to Geneva airport, you’d have to say it would be a property in Megeve (60 mins), Morzine (75 mins), Les Gets (75 mins), Chatel (80 mins) and Samoens (60 mins) to name a few.

In terms of ski domain, the ideal for us would be a property in the 3 Valleys such as Meribel, Courchevel or St Martin de Belleville.

For future capital investment as answered in the questions above, this is driven by infrastructure and new lifts so it would have to be one of the villages in the Alpe d’Huez ski domain.

Finally, for out and out height, long season and great Après ski it would have to be Val d’Isere.

France, Alpe D’Huez

3 bedroom slope side ski in and out apartments UNDER CONSTRUCTION on Alpe d'Huez ski slopes

3 bedroom slope side ski in and out apartments UNDER CONSTRUCTION on Alpe d'Huez ski slopes

France, Alpe D’Huez

8 off plan 5 bedroom chalets in pretty dual season resort of Vaujany in Alpe d'Huez ski domain

 8 off plan 5 bedroom chalets in pretty dual season resort of Vaujany in Alpe d'Huez ski domain

France, Samoens

Brand new 4 bedroom off plan chalets - 500m walk to the centre of the resort

 Brand new 4 bedroom off plan chalets - 500m walk to the centre of the resort

France, Megeve

A brand new, off plan 4 bedroom chalet, ideally located close to the centre of Megeve

 A brand new, off plan 4 bedroom chalet, ideally located close to the centre of Megeve

 SO: Are buyers asking the question about climate change?

API: Until last year, our answer would have been generally yes, there were comments around “climate change”. However, after the fantastic season we had last year, allowing resorts to open early and close later, even those lower in altitude, this year so far it does not seem to be such a hot topic.

That’s not to say all clients have removed climate change from their minds. Some buyers remain totally focused on only wanting to purchase in high altitude resorts to offset possible changes in the future.

The coming weeks will certainly give us an indication of whether this subject will once more be a popular concern.


If you are interested in seeing what Alpine Property have for sale on SnowOnly then visit their page and click on selling.