Luxury real estate is booming in the Alps

Property in Alpine ski resorts is experiencing the fastest price rise in nearly a decade, but emerging trends show buyers want more than just a rentable investment with good access to the slopes.

Buyers in the most expensive and well-known resorts of the French and Swiss Alps are looking for more than simply another tool in their investment portfolio, according to a new report from Knight Frank.  

“One in four ski home buyers are now seeking either a second home or co-primary property entirely for their own personal use, with no plans to rent their property,” says Kate Everett-Allan from Knight Frank. “A move to hybrid working, a rekindled love of the great outdoors and heightened interest in wellbeing [has] boosted demand. We knew the pandemic had influenced buyer priorities, but the premium now attached to mountain views, fast broadband and outdoor space looks to be significant.” 

Close proximity to a major airport is also high on the list for buyers, who want to be able to visit their home-from-home at a moment’s notice, whatever the time of year. 30% said a travel time of less than one and a half hours was imperative, while a further 31% said they would be willing to drive up to three hours from an airport to their property. 

“Byers are better informed than ever before, in terms of pricing dynamics, market risks and opportunities as well as futureproofing their purchase,” reads the report, acknowledging the looming issues of climate change and its impact of reliable snowfall as clear factors to consider for investors. “Sustainability and climate change are on the minds of ski home purchasers with the energy efficiency of their future ski home a priority for 54%. Plus, buyers are looking closely at the overall resilience of a ski resort, the investment plans and future snow provision.” 

One in four say they are looking for a year-round resort with a broad mix of ski and non-ski activities. In France, the two Portes de Soleil resorts of Les Gets and Morzine – both offering access to some of the best mountain biking trails in the world come the warmer months as well as proximity to Geneva airport – lead the French rankings for price increases, with 11% and 9% respectively.  

Overall, Swiss resorts top the table for the highest levels of price growth, with Crans-Montana and Saint Moritz showing an annual increase of 14% between 2021 and 2022. Verbier comes in third, with an 8% hike and a large volume of sales, primarily driven by UK and US-based buyers. 

Switzerland also dominates the price per-square-metre rankings: in Gstaad, it is over €37,000 per square metre while Saint Moritz comes in at €28,266 and Verbier at €27,757. Courchevel 1850 on the French side is close behind at €27,200. 

In the 23 resorts tracked by Knight Frank, the average price of a four-bedroom chalet in the Alpine region increased by 5.8% between June 2021 and June 2022, up 4.6% from the previous period. Over the course of the Covid pandemic, prime prices rose on average by almost 14%.  

However, this is expected to slow in 2023.  

“Low interest rates have allowed easy borrowing for more than a decade,” says Everett-Allen, “but a new landscape beckons as mortgage costs and energy prices ramp up. That’s not to say we expect prices to fall… But after three stellar years, the economic headwinds will start to weigh on buyer sentiment in the Alps and globally, prompting the rate of annual price growth to slow.”  


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Photo source: Juliette G. for Unsplash