Is a ski chalet a good investment? The short answer is yes.
An Alpine chalet 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.
However, if you’re investing in a ski chalet to rent, there are some important factors to consider before making your purchase. For example:
- Buying price
- The chalet’s characteristics and features
- The rental potential
- Long-term capital appreciation
In this post, we outline the advantages of ski chalet investments as well as expand on some of the key considerations to weigh up before you buy a holiday rental property in the Alps.
The advantages of investing in a ski chalet in the French Alps
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 what are the advantages of French ski chalet investments?
1. Year-round demand
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, which are often seen as the “shoulder season”.
As visiting the mountains becomes more appealing away from the traditional ski season and the July/August period, some rental properties have achieved occupancy levels of 70%+ across the year as a whole. Five years ago this was unheard of.
So how does this benefit those investing in a ski chalet? Put simply, year-round demand creates more bookings and maximises your revenue.
2. The French economy
The French economy has proven remarkably resilient in recent years. This in turn supports a buoyant property market.
Despite the impacts of COVID, France is expected to see strong economic growth over the next few years, in many cases overshadowing its neighbours.
In 2021 GDP expanded by 6.8 %, which both surpassed expectations and is higher than the euro area average of 5.3%. Growth estimates sit at approximately 2.6% for 2022, before slowing to 2% in 2023 (according to Banque de France).
Importantly for French mountain resorts, the French government continues to invest heavily in the Savoie, Haute Savoie and Isere regions. The long-term appeal and resilience of these regions are seen as economically important at a national level.
As well as providing an annual return, many property purchasers hope that their assets will increase in value
over time. Whilst past performance is no guarantee of future returns, this has largely been the case in the Alps
over the past thirty years.
Over a 10-year period, the Savoie and Haute Savoie have consistently been the highest-performing Alpine regions. Most commentators see the potential for further growth over the next 12 months and beyond, although rates are likely to slow.
4. Tax reduction schemes
The topic of tax is extensive and detailed. Our guide to taxation for UK owners will give you a global overview, but below, we touch on a couple of the tax-saving schemes you can benefit from when investing in a ski chalet in France.
The French leaseback and Para-Hotelier schemes
What is the French leaseback scheme?
The leaseback scheme was introduced by the French government in 1967 to encourage investment in tourist destinations throughout France. This was to be done by increasing the supply of quality accommodation. VAT refunded at the point of purchase would be recouped from taxation on future rental revenue.
Buyers of a leaseback property are entitled to a refund of the 20% VAT due on a property purchase in France. In most cases, the developer will advance the 20% VAT for the buyer when the purchase completes.
This means the buyer doesn’t pay the VAT ordinarily due, making the purchase considerably cheaper. It should be noted that all property owners in France are required to pay taxe foncière, so this is still payable by the buyer.
What is the French Para-Hotelier scheme?
The “Para-Hotelier” tax scheme is less well-known than the leaseback scheme. However, it also allows a property owner to reclaim the 20% VAT element on building costs or the new build purchase price of a chalet or apartment.
The Para-Hotelier scheme can be used where you have purchased an off-plan property or a completed new build, are carrying out your own building project or are undertaking a major renovation using the shell of an existing property.
Our free guide to the French leaseback and Para-Hotelier schemes
To understand the advantages, disadvantages and legal requirements of these two property investment schemes, download our free guide by clicking on the link below:
The vast majority of French mountain resorts enjoy excellent accessibility to road and rail networks, as well as international airports.
Geneva acts as an important hub for the Northern French Alps and regular flights from airlines including easyJet have helped fuel the growth of resorts in the Portes du Soleil, Grand Massif and Aravis as well as the Chamonix Valley.
What to consider before investing in a holiday rental chalet
We’ve covered the advantages of purchasing a ski chalet, but like with any investment, there’s always a level of risk.
In order to get the best results, you should know what to look for before you begin the process. To help you make an informed decision, here are a few key things to keep in mind:
1. The purchase price
The price you pay for your Alpine property should be conducive to the destination’s market price in order for your investment to be profitable.
Work with reputable real estate agencies who are experts in the industry and have strong local knowledge that can guide you with your investment. If you’re not sure who to work with, don’t hesitate to contact one of our rental specialists at OVO Network who can recommend one of our truster partners.
2. Possible rental yield
If you’re looking to maximise profitability from your rental property, then you want to be confident that your chalet can meet your financial goals.
Although a lot of this is down to location, many other factors come into play here including the characteristics of your property, which we will touch on shortly.
Each owner will have a different goal and vision of what they want out of their business. However, in order to succeed, the chalet needs to be occupied as much as possible, offer competitive prices and you need to provide excellent guest management services. In 2022 OVO Network’s overall occupancy rate was 57.2% (the percentage of all available nights that were sold).
Achieving this is easier said than done and can be a daunting prospect to face alone! There are a great number of elements that contribute to a profitable holiday rental business, and that’s where expert help is invaluable.
Discover OVO Network’s complete business solution to see how we can help you own a successful holiday rental business and enhance the resale value of your property while hardly lifting a finger.
There is no single “right” location for a property purchase in the French Alps. What works for one buyer may not for another.
The location itself can be broken down into the following separate elements:
Historical capital appreciation
This is a principal consideration, especially for those who are looking to purchase a ski chalet as a pure investment (ie not for family use etc).
Do your research and work closely with your estate agent to analyse the historical capital appreciation of your chosen area. By doing so, you will be able to determine how profitable your property will be if you decide to sell it.
How easy is the chalet to access by car? How far away is the closest airport? These are significant details, as there’s no doubt that most people will prefer simplicity when it comes to their holidays.
However, some guests do really enjoy the novelty of staying in a property that is only accessible by snowmobile, for example. The key here is to be aware that what works for one group will not necessarily work for another.
It may be easier to attract bookings if your property is located in a high-demand destination, although do bear in mind that purchase prices and ongoing costs in popular, well-known resorts will tend to be a lot higher.
At OVO Network, we also recognise the great value of “up-and-coming” resorts. Examples include:
- Saint Gervais
As we mentioned earlier in the post, we have seen a rise in demand for holidays outside of the winter season in recent years.
Therefore, investing within a resort that offers a broad range of activities in all seasons is a good choice. Popular year-round destinations include resorts such as Chamonix and Morzine. However, there is a certain charm to the more remote resorts, which can be of interest to couples searching for romantic getaways, for example.
You’ll also need to think about how adaptable your property is to all seasons. For example, does it have ample outdoor space for relaxing and dining in the summer?
Proximity to slopes
For some guests, such as families with young children or groups of very keen skiers, a ski-in ski-out holiday might be the preferred option.
For others, a short car journey or bus ride to the slopes isn’t a problem and they may be happy to stay at the chalet on some days or explore the natural surroundings.
With remote properties, it is crucial that you create an unforgettable experience right in the chalet itself. We’ll come on to equipment and facilities later in the post to give you more of an idea of how to do this.
Either way, the proximity to the slopes is something that needs to be advertised clearly on your website so guests are aware. And you may see a difference between summer and winter demand depending on this factor.
Overall, you need to choose a location that is consistent with your overall objectives.
3. Characteristics and selling points
There are some fundamental characteristics that you’re going to want to clarify before the point of purchase, in order to establish your audience. For example, the capacity of the property, the opportunity to renovate/extend, the outdoor space, the bedroom-to-bathroom ratio, how family-friendly/baby-safe it is and so on.
Ideally, you want to invest in a property which attracts the widest audience possible in order to maximise bookings. But, with so much competition out there, owners are having to step up their game in order to stand out on listing sites. And although you’re never going to be able to offer absolutely everything, there are some common favourite features that guests love such as:
- Great views
- Log fires
- Spa and wellness facilities (hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, swimming pools, massage rooms, etc)
- Kid-friendly features (home cinemas, games rooms, trampolines, swing sets, etc)
- Home working facilities (home office and fast Wifi)
Although a lot of this takes effect after the point of purchase, it’s important to have clear goals before investing in order to avoid any pitfalls.
A successful ski chalet investment is one that generates consistently high revenue with low associated ongoing costs. And in order to achieve this, you’ll need to have strong knowledge, experience and expertise in the Alpine property market.
In the Alps, an owner’s personal situation can differ greatly depending on the village, the resort or the valley they invest in, and the complexities can sometimes feel overwhelming. That’s why professional guidance is indispensable.
At OVO Network, we have 13 years of experience in the chalet rental industry and operate in more than 40 destinations across the Alps. We work with over 140 happy chalet owners, managing their bookings, marketing, online payments, and guest communication, as well as finding them the best property management solutions.
Discover more about OVO Network’s business solution or arrange a call with one of our property rental specialists today to discuss your investment project. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to receive tips on running your holiday rental business, expert opinions and the latest industry news.
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