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Ski Property Prices in France 2020

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Despite the closure of ski resorts in France, the market for properties has held up.

Although sales are inevitably down on last year estate agents are reporting that the market is not as bleak as it could have been.

In particular, there is growing interest in the resorts for summer, as well as winter breaks, and the stations have been developing new offers to cater for all-year round interest.

Many French nationals are also reorientating their holidays towards local tourism.

Although demand from UK nationals has fallen, that from neighbouring countries - Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands - has continued to grow, largely offsetting the relative erosion of the UK market.

According to Benjamin Berger, managing director of Cimalpes, a top-of-the-range real estate agency, since the end of the first lockdown "there has been a significant proportion of our tenants who have decided to buy in order to come to the mountains more often", he says.

He also considers that "High-end real estate in the mountains offers an alternative to financial investments that do not necessarily yield more or that are uncertain, the CAC 40 having lost 15% of its value since the start of year."

Savills estate agents also report that "With Covid-19, some might have expected the current uncertainty to put an end to the growth we have seen over the past decade," says Jeremy Rollason, director of Savills Ski. "But with the increase in the number of skiers globally for the third year in a row, and our own transaction volumes also up from 2019, our analysis shows that ski real estate markets have remained resilient. Interest in ski property both from consumers and investor clients worldwide remains as keen as ever."

The increase in teleworking has played on the attractiveness of a property in the mountains. Buyers are planning to occupy their chalet for longer periods beyond the ski season. So lifestyle changes as a result of Covid-19 are bolstering the market.

It is of course impossible to generalise, for France is blessed with several mountain ranges with ski potential, from the Pyrénées to the Alps, to the Massif Central and Jura or Vosges.

Not surprisingly, the favourite destination for most international buyers is the Northern Alps (Haute-Savoie), where there is a better guarantee of good powder and the best ski-ing stations are located.

As a result, that popularity is reflected in price growth in Haute-Savoie, which has consistently out performed other areas. The graphic below shows the average movement in prices for each of the mountain ranges over 1, 5 and 10 years.

Over ten years, only the Haute-Savoie and its sibling Savoie have shown any kind of significant price growth and prices have fallen over the period in several mountain areas, most significantly in the Pyrénées-Orientales.

Average Movement in Prices
One Year
Five Years
Ten Years
Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04)
Alpes-Maritimes (06)
Haute-Savoie (74)
Hautes-Alpes (05)
Hautes-Pyrénées (65)
Isère (38)
Jura (39)
Pyrénées-Orientales (66)
Savoie (73)
Vosges (88)

At a resort level, it is a similarly mixed picture, with a huge variation in prices, ranging from an average of around €1,000㎡ in some areas, to over €20,000㎡ for an apartment in the top stations.

In Val d'Isère, demand exceeds supply. The average price range for a renovated, 3-bedroom apartment in a good location is between €15,000/㎡ and €22,000/㎡. If it has not been renovated, it varies between €12,000/㎡ and €16,000/㎡.

Its a similar picture in Megève, where prices rose by +6% in 2020 for a new apartment and +1.5% for an existing apartment. A renovated apartment sells here for between € 8,000/㎡ and € 11,000/㎡ and between € 7,000/㎡ and € 9,000/㎡ if not renovated.

Nevetheless, although agents report that in 3 out of 4 stations prices have risen, many are also reporting that supply is exceeding demand and prices are falling, such as in Les Arcs (-12%), Tignes (-10%), Abondance (-4%) Morzine (-3%) and Chamonix (-2%).

The graphic below shows the the average price range of properties in a selection of stations aross France.

Average Apartment Prices Per
Val ThorensHaute-Savoie€3,952€5,269€7,904
Isère €2,640€4,229
Les Arcs-Bourg-Saint-MauriceHaute-Savoie€2,231€3,908
Hautes-Alpes €2,241€3,386
Isola 2000
La Plagne
Les Deux-AlpesIsère €2,423€2,957
Source: Meilleur Agents

All ranges taken together, the proximity of the ski lifts has a noticeable effect on prices: properties within a few minutes of the lifts increase in price by 12.5% compared to properties located between 15 and 20 minutes' walk.

As we pointed out in our article Uncertain Future for Ski Stations in Pyrénées, if you are buying in smaller, low-lying stations in France you need to know what you are doing; the potential resilience of the resort to climate change is increasingly a major factor with buyers. A significant number of stations are in a precarious financial state, and there have been a number of closures.

More generally, investors need to be cautious about investing in off-plan investment schemes, as many have failed to live up to the promises made and have been the subject of substantial controversy and litigation.

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