Real Estate: The desire for luxury Alpine living shows no sign of abating

The mountains continue to call to wealthy prospective buyers. According to the latest Ski Property Report from Knight Frank, demand for luxury Alpine homes is now far outstripping supply and prices are rising fast in every major resort in the Alps.  

The pandemic years were a boon for the Swiss and French Alps, where properties in all price ranges were snapped up by people looking to escape city living and find a place to unwind surrounded by nature.  

That “appetite for mountain living” is still abounding, says Kate Everett-Allen, Head of Global Research at Knight Frank, but competition at the upper end of the market is getting tough. 

Demand is now far higher than supply. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, the number of homes reaching the market has fallen by well over 50% in the popular French resorts of Chamonix, Courchevel and Vald d’Isère, and it is a similar story everywhere.

“Owners of higher value homes are reluctant to surrender their Alpine home given the limited alternatives and, for many, the lifestyle benefits of their mountain abode have never been more apparent,” reads the report.  

The top end of the market 

The cost-of-living crisis is having little effect on those looking for a mountain property in a prime location, and higher mortgage costs appear to only be impacting the lower price brackets, according to research conducted by Knight Frank and Macrobond. 

The price of a luxury ski chalet increased by 4.4% on average in the 12 months to June 2023. Prices in Swiss resorts increased more than in France – up an astounding 15.8% in Klosters-Serneus and 12.6% in Davos, for example – but hikes are to be noted all-round.

Prices rose by 15.8% in a year in the Swiss resort of Klosters-Serneus, pictured. Photo credit: Simon Mumenthaler, Unsplash

The price per square metre in the most expensive resort to feature in the report, Gstaad, is now €41,300 compared to €39,300 last year. In the most expensive French resort, Courchevel 1850, the price per square metre has reached €30,500.  

Read related: SBM marks new era in business, officially purchases luxury ‘Palace des Neiges’ in Courchevel

Even the more secluded resorts – those furthest away from airports and metropolitan centres – are seeing interest grow and grow. Distance is clearly becoming less of an issue, with nearly seven in 10 respondents to the Knight Frank Sentiment Survey saying they would be “willing to travel between 1.5 and three hours from the airport to the resort”, up from 31% in 2022. 

Why buy? 

More than half of prospective buyers say they want a mix of holiday home and rental investment, with just under 40% saying they would keep a place exclusively for personal use.  

The pull of winter sports is still the biggest draw, with 52% saying skiing conditions and facilities motivate a purchase, while a further 37% simply want a “base from which to enjoy the mountains”. 10% of those surveyed say they would invest in a mountain home as a place “for family and friends to congregate”.  

Skiing remains the top reason for buying a winter home amongst the most wealthy buyers. Photo credit: Piotyr Figlarz, Unsplash

Where’s hot? 

According to Knight Frank’s Roddy Aris, who represents the French Alps, Chamonix and Megève are likely to outperform in the coming year. 

“These mid-altitude resorts set the benchmark for year-round appeal and have the added benefit of being within 75 minutes of Geneva Airport. Val d’Isère’s recent strong performance is set to continue due to its excellent snow record, tight pool of properties and strong public and private investment.” 

Over the border in Switzerland, resorts with “genuine year-round village life” are most likely to do well out of the continuing trend for an Alpine retreat.  

“Resorts such as Crans-Montana, Verbier, St. Moritz and Villars-sur-Ollon, which all boast strong resident numbers, will fare better than those that quieten down out of season,” says Alex Koch de Gooreynd, a partner at Knight Frank. “I envisage we will see continued strong demand for primary residences in the French-speaking resorts. In Graubünden, home to St. Moritz, Davos and Klosters, demand will be stronger for second homes. Investment in infrastructure has become a priority, from improved accessibility and local amenities to international schooling.” 

Check back in the coming weeks for Monaco Life’s review of the impact the ‘work from home’ phenomenon has had on the Alps, and why there are two clear trends emerging in the luxury Alpine property sector: the hardcore ski set and the buyer who “came for the winter and stayed for the summer”.  


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Main photo credit: Tim Arnold, Unsplash