During the lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, locals have been plugging the gap of foreign buyers and snapping up chalets in the same way Londoners and city dwellers have been moving to the countryside. This increase in demand has exponentially seen a rise in house prices.
While some buyers have been looking for investment opportunities, buying a ski chalet tends to be a lifestyle purchase. The pandemic has made people focus more on their work/life balance. They prioritise time spent with family and enjoy nature and their hobbies over working long hours and commuting. The new WFH regime allows many to work from anywhere. Those with a family can now do the same in resorts such as Crans-Montana in Switzerland that have built a new British day and boarding school catering for children aged 5-18.
The skiing season typically runs from early November to early April, and it is possible to get late snow in high-altitude resorts. However, buyers are now looking for dual season resorts to make the most of their holiday homes all year round. French resorts such as Chamonix, Alpe d’Huez and Val D’Isère have invested in non-ski activities such as hiking, mountaineering, water sports, golf and fishing. In comparison, Zermatt in Switzerland relies on its Michelin-starred restaurants to draw in visitors. Anyone buying an investment property, an all-year-around rental, has a higher yield potential.
The Swiss Franc is seen as a ‘safe haven’ currency; buyers may see this as a good investment given the current climate and also opt for Swiss Franc mortgages. This is good news for buyers drawn to Swiss resorts such as Verbier, St Moritz, Zermatt, Davos and Klosters, which have been rated the top ski resorts in Switzerland 2022.
The US Dollar is also a ‘safe haven’ currency. For Americans buying in Europe, the rate has moved in your favour of late due to the expected interest hike in March. However, this will largely be priced into the rate already. Historically the US Dollar is still very high, and we may not expect it to stay this strong forever. As we see more optimism entering the market in the longer term, we may see these ‘safe haven’ currencies start to weaken.
Meanwhile, British buyers are also in a fortunate position; we are at 22-month highs and back to pre-covid levels against the Euro.
Ski apartments are centrally based, whereas chalets tend to be on the outskirts or resorts. Check its location in relation to pistes, restaurants, bars and amenities.
Is it easy to reach? If you are lucky enough to travel around a private jet, this will not be of concern. However, if you are flying charter, you may want to consider the frequency and seasonality of flights and providers.
Is it close to an airport or rail link? Is it easy for you to reach the property? Making it more accessible will increase its desirability if you rent out the property.
Is it purely a holiday home, or is this an investment property? If you choose to rent out your property, you have to consider different factors. You need to make a realistic list of ‘must haves’ and make sure there is a clear distinction between lifestyle and investment ‘must haves’. You may need to sacrifice the size of the property to buy a property closer to sort after amenities to attract rentals and get a good rental yield on the property.
The following will differ depending on who will use the property:
1. The ambience of the ski resort – family-orientated or better for après ski.
2. The slope's difficulty – again, more accessible slopes will attract families.
3. Ease of travel – is it close to the airport or rail?
Many buyers have a vision or an image of how they expect a ski chalet to look and feel, which can often be different from reality or out of their budget.
Those on a small budget still have a couple of options. Apartments have changed a lot, and new apartments are often more spacious and can similar feel to a chalet. Many of the new-build apartments are multi-floor duplexes or triplexes. Alternatively, demi-chalet’s are similar to a semi-detached house; they are still chalet but at a more accessible price.
The layouts and architecture of a ski chalet can be quite different to what you envisioned and what you are used to. Living rooms tend to be more generous as this is the most used room in the chalet, whereas bedrooms tend to be smaller, and some will not have any windows. Also, certain areas may not be included as habitable space, but in person will make the chalet appear larger.
When considering your budget, you may need to also factor in exchange rate movements—depending upon which currency you are paying in, for example, Euros or Swiss Francs. You may need to convert your pounds, US dollars or Swiss Francs, depending upon your payment schedule at various dates in the future; the exchange rate at the time of completion is unknown. Depending on rate fluctuations, your property could become cheaper or more expensive.
If you are on a tight budget, prefer to know the cost upfront or perhaps the rate is in your favour, and you would like to take advantage of a favourable rate. You can fix the rate in advance by either buying all the currency upfront or securing the rate with a 10% deposit. This is useful if you do not have all the funds available. The remaining 90% will be required when you need the total amount.
We can monitor the rate for you and buy the currency when you need it. Using a foreign exchange broker can save you a considerable amount of money against your bank. If the rate moves for or against you within your timeframe, you still have the option of fixing that rate at that point in time.
Every buyer's situation is different; by speaking to your dedicated account manager, we can work with you to help you buy your currency at the right time for you.
If you are buying with a mortgage, make sure you have it in principle, in the beginning, to know what you can afford. Again, in the same way, if you take a foreign currency mortgage, for example, in Swiss Francs or Euros. Bear in mind exchange rate fluctuations can make the mortgage more expensive or cheaper over time.
Spartan FX will help monitor the exchange rate and help you to control these costs. UK based buyers will be able to secure the rate every month, the process is automated, and your payments are made with ease and on time. Alternatively, if you have funds available in advance, you can convert your money and make the transfers as and when you need them directly from your Spartan FX account or your bank account in the country where your ski chalet is based.
Don’t forget to budget for the additional costs—for example, tax and legal expenses and ongoing maintenance and insurance payments.
If this is an investment property, you could consider employing a rental management company. They will be able to take care of things when you are not in the country. It may be less time consuming and less hassle.
As travel restrictions ease and holidaymakers or buyers on private jets can view properties, we will see an increase in foreign buyers and prices could continue to rise. Coupled with exchange rate fluctuations, now could be the time to buy a ski property and take advantage of the exchange rates.