Buying property in the French Alps has long held a strong appeal, both domestically and internationally.
Despite, or perhaps because of, our experiences over the past few years, this looks set to continue.
But, one of the big questions on people’s minds is – what is the impact of Brexit on UK investment in the Alps?
The consequences differ from one region of the Alps to the next. In this post, we’re going to be focusing on Brexit and property investment in the French Alps. We’ll be looking at the following topics:
- Buying a property in the French Alps as a UK investor
- Visa requirements
- Demand for Alpine properties
What are the consequences of Brexit on investment in the Alps?
Can you still buy a property in the French Alps after Brexit?
The short answer is yes.
France does not treat buyers from the UK any differently from EU citizens when it comes to buying property. This is not the case in Switzerland or Austria, although it is easier in certain Cantons of Switzerland than it was a few years ago.
There are currently no restrictions for foreigners buying property in France and no additional purchasing costs due to Brexit. Acquisition costs will remain around 7-8% for an existing property and around 2.5% for a new build home.
What’s more, you can still buy a second home to rent out for additional income. And you can also purchase a property in the name of a professional company, too.
Investors will, however, need to prove they can support themselves financially and have health insurance. Retirees must also certify that their pensions are sufficient.
Do I need a “Long Stay” visa?
If you’re hoping to spend 90 days or more in France at a time, then yes. This is one of the main considerations for UK investors who are considering purchasing a property in France.
Short stay visas
If the duration of your stay does not exceed 90 days per 180-day period, you will be issued a short-stay uniform Schengen visa or national visa depending on your destination.
Visas for second homeowners in France
According to the French government website, as of 1 January 2021, the official guidelines for owners of second homes in France is as follows:
Spending 3-6 months in France
If you are spending between 3 to 6 months a year in France, you are not considered a resident in France. Therefore, you do not qualify for a “Carte de Séjour” under the withdrawal agreement.
You will have to apply for a temporary Long Stay visitor visa “VLS-T Visiteur“.
Spending more than 6 months in France
If you spend more than 6 months a year in France, you are then considered to be a French resident. In this case, you must apply for a Long Stay visitor visa (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour VLS-TS « visiteur »).
Whatever the length of your planned stay, the duration of your long-stay visa must be between three months and one year. To extend your stay beyond the period of validity of your visa, you must apply for a residence permit at a prefecture.
For the most up-to-date information about visas in France, please refer to the official government website.
How does Brexit impact property and investment taxes?
Social charges for UK second homeowners in France
In January 2021, it was stated that UK residents were no longer entitled to lower social charges on their rental income and capital gains from their French property (7.5 instead of 17.2%).
However, since February 2022, UK residents will also be exempt from the CSG (Generalized social contribution) and CRDS (Contribution to the repayment of social debt) if:
- The homeowner is a legal UK national.
- You’re associated with the British social security system (National Insurance).
- You do not depend on the French social security system.
UK demand for Alpine properties
Both Brexit and Covid had an impact on UK investment in the Alps. The consequences of travel restrictions and exchange rates hindered the purchase of international property for many Brits.
In addition, various buyers found obtaining a mortgage more challenging, increasing the need for a broker. For direct lenders, BNP Paribas are highly recommended for international buyers.
As a result, the number of UK buyers investing in the Alps has declined in recent years. Reports from Alpine Property claim that as of summer 2022, approximately 20% of their clients were British, compared to the previous 40%.
Saying that, the demand for Alpine property is still very much paramount…
An Alpine rental chalet or apartment is an asset that can be used and enjoyed, generate income and create capital gains.
Over the past thirty years most properties, and French Alpine locations, have comfortably and consistently delivered on all three. Tastes have evolved, but the mountains retain their allure.
Perhaps the biggest change in the post-COVID era is the increased appeal of the Alps across the year as a whole. OVO Network summer occupancy rates in 2021 and 2022 surpassed those of 2019 and we have seen strong demand for many properties in both Spring and Autumn.
The link between the accessibility of skiing and demand from both property buyers and potential guests is weaker than at any point in the past. There is increasing recognition that other attractions can be just as important as skiing for property buyers, investors and guests.
To find out more about buying an Alpine property in France, then download our free guide. Discover where to buy, what to buy and how to maximise your rental returns with advice and data from our property experts.
If you own a chalet in the Alps and want to find a complete business solution for your rentals, then you can find out more about our offering and try our short-term rental income calculator here.
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