At this time of the year, when thousands of skiers and snowboarders are looking forward to their annual trip to the slopes, taking a closer look at investing in a ski property might seem like a good idea.
It’s true that the pound-euro exchange rate isn’t very favourable right now. But ski property almost always offers excellent letting yields and consistent capital appreciation so it can still offer an interesting investment opportunity. Investors concerned about post-Brexit Britain might also consider European ski property as something of a safe haven for their money in the future.
Here are some importing things you need to bear in mind before considering investing in ski property.
Despite competition from other locations the Alps still account for 85% of Europe’s ski industry, attracting 100m tourists annually. After several mild winters suggested climate change might be affecting the ski industry snow levels have proved reassuring over the last couple of seasons. However, it is as well to remember the OECD has predicted resorts under 1,050m are unlikely to have much snow within 45 years, and that only resorts over 2,000m may remain viable.
France is not only the largest ski market, but perhaps the largest property investment market. Compared to many countries and other kinds of French property capital values have proved resilient through the recession. The investment property market here has been dominated for many years by the leaseback scheme where a property is bought and leased back to a management company. As well as tax benefits including a VAT refund leaseback can offer a guaranteed yield.
Switzerland has a deserved reputation as a very high priced property market. Although this, together with restrictions on foreign ownership, limits demand prices are supported to some extent by very limited supply. Capital values here tend to be resilient to boom or bust economic conditions alike.
Austria benefits from being a lower-priced offering to its neighbour. However, the OECD report has suggested resorts below 1,050m, such as Schladming and Kitzbühel, may struggle within 20 years if climate change affects snow levels. As a result a number of resorts here are aiming to re-invent themselves as year round tourist destinations by introducing facilities such as spas.
Italy is not traditionally a big draw for foreign skiers, nor foreign ski property investors. However, Italy benefits from a sizable domestic demand for ski accommodation, so there is usually a strong local resale market. Skiing in Italy is traditionally considered to be the cheap option for those wanting a ski holiday in the Alps. Compared to some countries ski facilities and infrastructure needs updating in places.’
For many years Bulgaria was touted as the newest, best value ski property location, prompting many investors to rush in. The resale market is now the main focus with possible bargains to be had – in some cases properties are being offered up to 50% of their value in the boom times. Bansko is still the key destination for a ski property in Bulgaria.
Wherever you are considering investing in ski property one rule pretty much applies everywhere: The higher you buy the more you will have to pay, but the compensation is the higher demand, higher rentals, and a longer ski rental season too.
One last tip. If you’re working out your budget by looking at the pound-euro exchange rate DON’T use the tourist exchange rate as you’ll find posted in the window of your bank or travel agency to work out how much you can afford to invest. When you’re exchanging a large amount of currency to invest in a property you can instead use a specialist currency exchange service who will always be able to offer a more favourable rate. So, you can probably afford to invest more in European ski property than you might think.