The global pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have had a significant impact on alpine living. With travel restrictions in place, tourists have not been able to visit their favourite ski resorts. Therefore in many countries, the holiday rental market has seen a significant downturn.
However, with ski resorts promoting the benefits of being in the mountains and the gradual lifting of restrictions, people are re-evaluating their lifestyles. For many, the Alps are the obvious choice to escape the pandemic.
The Impact On Ski Resorts
While France closed all the ski lifts, bars and restaurants during the 2020/2021 winter season, Switzerland took a different approach. They kept the lifts turning while allowing people to eat and drink outside as they kept to social distancing regulations.
Ski resorts were still less busy, as tourists were not visiting from abroad, apart from a few people sneaking over the border from France. Also, ski resorts did miss out on the lucrative holiday periods.
But during the summer of 2020, Swiss residents took advantage of the benefits of going on holiday to the mountains. The fresh air, open spaces and the abundance of alpine activities are great for physical and mental health. Therefore, the holiday rental market benefited from a rise in Swiss families staying in the country for their holidays.
The increase in staycations gave the Swiss rental market a welcomed boost. In fact, Swiss hotels were close to full occupancy.
Second Homes Benefit From The Pandemic
The prices of holiday homes in the Swiss Alps increased significantly in 2020 and 2021. As travel restrictions came into play and people started to work from their second homes, property prices increased. The reduced availability of suitable holiday homes added to this phenomenon.
A great example of this trend is that Verbier saw a growth of 2.9% in property prices. This was helped by its schools continuing to attract students from abroad. Also, Verbier is a popular place for people from Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux to have second homes. So these homeowners relocated to their holiday homes to work remotely.
People with alpine properties for sale recognised the rise in demand and stuck to their asking prices. However, property sales continued to go ahead as normal.
It isn’t just the Swiss buying alpine properties; foreign buyers are also starting to invest. Even though the Swiss franc is expensive, the Swiss property market has a reputation of being a reasonably safe prospect for investors in uncertain times. This is illustrated by the Swiss National Bank when they reported it had sold over $98bn worth of Swiss francs in the first half of 2020 alone.
Property Prices In Ski Resorts
According to UBS, the average price of a Swiss Alpine holiday property increased 4% in 2020. This is the biggest annual increase since 2012. Ski resorts with properties with a cost of over €9,000 per square metre saw a rise of 8%. Less expensive resorts had an average increase of 2%
In the 2021 price rankings that include both France and Switzerland, Verbier is the 3rd highest with €21,900 per square metre. Grimentz and Champery are at 18th and 19th at €10,300 and €8,250 per square meter, respectively.
Should You Buy A Swiss Alpine Property As An Investment?
The thought of having a place in the Alps is very appealing. In theory, you get to spend lots of time with family and friends while having easy access to the slopes.
However, these properties need to generate income rather than sitting empty until you fancy a holiday. The route that most holiday homeowners like to take is to rent them out rather than count on short-term capital appreciation.
Rental property investors try to maximise their rental income by buying high specification properties in sought after areas. Therefore, a carefully chosen property in a good Swiss ski resort could be a great prospect.
We work closely with our sister rental management company Miggins.ch to offer our clients the ability to maximise their rental opportunities. Miggins will develop a personalised rental program centred around your property use. We recommend contacting Miggins before purchasing a property to receive an estimate of the rental income you could receive, which ideally covers all your property costs (electricity, co-property charges, water, taxes etc) plus any repayments you may have.
Swiss Alpine Villages Set For Growth
It can be tricky to decide which of the many Swiss alpine villages to buy your second property in. But Grimentz and Champéry are potentially very good options. This is what you need to know about these ski resorts:
Grimentz is located in the north of the Valais region. At 1,550m Grimentz has reliable snowfall on its crowd-free pistes. It also has a 20 week-long winter season, which maximises rental opportunities.
With the recent CHF26m investment in improving the ski lift system, which now links to the neighbouring resort of Zinal, you can see that the resort is serious about its future.
The off-piste in the area is superb, as the fresh snow doesn’t get tracked out quickly, as it does in other resorts. Also, the stunning 360-degree views of the 5 peaks, which includes the Matterhorn, create a unique experience.
Grimentz’s summer season is becoming more popular. Trail runners and cyclists are starting to take advantage of the high mountain passes and cols. Therefore, rental properties can target a different market once the snow has melted.
Grimentz is popular with Swiss, British and Dutch buyers, who like the resort due to its off-slope activities, après scene and nightlife.
2 Bedroom properties in Grimentz start at just under CHF 1m while you can buy a high-end luxurious four-bedroom chalet in a good location for around CHF 2.5m in Grimentz.
Champéry is located in the Portes du Soleil, one of the world’s largest ski areas, consisting of over 600km of pistes through 12 ski resorts straddling the French-Swiss border. Its skyline is dominated by the incredible Dents du Midi mountains, which tower over this authentic alpine village.
When you compare Champéry with the other Swiss resorts in the Portes du Soleil, you will see that property values are lower. However, it is popular with people who live in Montreux, Lausanne and Geneva, who like to visit for weekends or buy property here as a base to work from home.
Champéry is popular with families who like a small and friendly ski resort. But it has a thriving summer scene too. The Portes du Soleil is heaven for mountain bikers, as many of the ski lifts keep running to give bikers access to world-class trails. It is common for mountain bikers to ride on both sides of the border on the same day.
However, if you prefer a more sedate experience, there is a thermal spa located nearby at Val d’Illiez – The Thermes Parc. Here, you can drift along the hot river surrounded by picturesque mountains.
In Champéry, prices start at CHF1.2m for a two-bedroom apartment stretching to CHF2m for a four-bedroom chalet.