Sponsored by Nidski
Many keen skiers dream of owning a ski apartment or alpine chalet at some point. nidski.com, the online platform for finding and buying a ski property worldwide with over 2,500 alpine properties for sale in the Alps and beyond, has put together a guide on buying a ski property and turning this dream into reality. 

Where To Start?
The decision to buy any property starts with a list of questions. What? Where? How? In the Alps the choices are complicated further. Should you buy an apartment or chalet, a new-build or a renovation? Is France best? Or Austria, Switzerland or Italy? Then, once you’ve decided on the location, how do you go about buying the property?

Location, Location, Location - Where Should You Buy?
As with any property purchase, location is key, so you get the most out of it, and also to preserve the resale value. Location and budget go hand in hand; inevitably property prices in world-famous ski resorts such as Courchevel and Val d’Isere are high. So for most buyers buying a ski apartment or chalet in the Alps comes down to finding somewhere that offers the right balance of ski area, resort facilities and property prices. Compare the different ski property options, locations and prices on with the multiple location search on nidski.com.

Spend Time Getting To Know Your Preferred Location
While the internet offers a wealth of information about ski resorts, the best way to find out if a resort is the right choice for your property purchase, is to spend as much time there as possible. Visit as often as you can, and at different times of year, to check it’s the right location for you. 

Consider A Satellite, or Lesser Known, Ski Resort
Ski property prices vary greatly between resorts, even neighbouring ones. If property prices in your favourite ski resort are high, consider buying in a nearby village which is linked to the same ski area. Take Courchevel in the Three Valleys ski area: it is home to some of the best skiing and some of the most expensive and desirable property in the world. Over in the Belleville valley, in pretty St Martin de Belleville, which is also part of the Three Valleys ski area, property prices are much lower.

While £500k may not get you far in the ritzy ski village of Megève, over in St Gervais Les Bains – linked to the same ski area - a budget of £500k could buy a chalet. The Chamonix Valley also offers a range of property prices; a 4 bedroom chalet in the desirable ares of Les Bois and Les Praz near the Flegere ski lift, may have a price tag of £2-3 million+, while a similar property in Les Houches could be half the price.

The Portes du Soleil is another ski area with a wide choice of different location and price range; look at Morzine for a luxury chalet or Chatel for a well-priced apartment, or even look over the border in the Swiss resorts of Champery or Morgins.

Choose A Dual Season Or Year-Round Resort
Although winter is generally the main attraction when buying a ski chalet, summer in the Alps continues to grow in popularity as a holiday destination. Ski resorts with strong summer seasons, such as Chamonix and Morzine in the French Alps, are a good choice. Property values in both resorts have increased in recent years, and there is a range of activities from cycling to hiking, climbing to swimming to keep the whole family happy. Dual seasonality appeals to holidaymakers and potential buyers alike. The summer season in the Swiss Alps is stunning, and while resorts like Verbier are beyond most budgets, Villars-sur-Ollon or Crans Montana are good alternatives.

Snow-Surety And High Altitude
High altitude and the length of the ski season are major drawcards for property buyers. Snow is more or less guaranteed at some level in a high-altitude resort, such as Tignes or Val Thorens in the French Alps. The length of the ski season means more opportunity to ski AND to rent out the property - and even some summer skiing.

Choose a Resort With Easy Access
Ski resorts with shorter commute times make weekend trips easier, and more appealing for visitors should you choose to rent it out. Geneva airport has a huge number of ski resorts within a 1 hour’s drive, such as Flaine and Les Carroz, and there are regular flights from the UK year-round. Ski holidays of up to 3 days continue to grow in popularity making ski resorts within easy reach of an airport even more appealing. 

What Should You Buy? Finding the Right Property
So how do you decide which type of ski home is right for you? Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and it’s important to think about how and when you plan to use the ski property. If reality means you will only be there 2 or 3 weeks in the winter and will rent it out the rest of the time, a ski apartment may give the best return and hassle-free ownership. If you plan to be there for longer periods, look for a larger property with more space, and flexible accommodation for guests, in a location that offers more than just skiing.

Ski Apartment or Ski Chalet?
There are pros and cons to both. A ski apartment in a managed residence can be the best option if you like the idea of a “lock-up & leave” property. Apartment blocks will be looked after by a management company so there will be someone there to deal with frozen pipes or a broken boiler, and to look after it when you’re not there. A ski chalet offers more comfortable living, plus a garden for the summer, if you plan to host friends and family or live in it for weeks at a time.

New-build Property or Renovation Project?
New-builds are generally more expensive to buy, but the “lock-up & leave” convenience with modern fixtures and fittings appeals to many buyers. For others, the alpine dream is to buy and renovate an old chalet or rustic farmhouse.

New–build property prices can be 20% higher per m2 than older chalets and ski apartments, although it can be possible to reclaim any VAT paid for the property, if you meet certain rental regulations. In the French Alps the purchase costs of buying a new-build property are cheaper too – 2% or 3% versus 7%-8%. New-build apartments also come with guarantees and benefit from the newest standards of energy performance, reducing energy costs over time. Buying a “Leaseback” can also be an option with a new-build property particularly in the French or Austrian Alps. This type of purchase allows the owner to use it for a certain number of weeks each year, and the management company rents it out for the rest of the season.

Resale alpine property generally has a lower purchase price and a greater potential for value increase. Some mountain homes are hundreds of years old and the charm and character they hold cannot be recreated in a new-build. Older homes are often in the best location for sunshine, access and proximity to the village centre. 

How Can I Buy A Ski Property?
Finance is an important part of any property purchase, and an aspect to sort out at the start, so you don’t waste time and money on viewing trips, or find your dream property and then find out you can’t afford it.

Cash Or Mortgage?
If you plan to raise finance for your ski property purchase, get an agreement in principle from a bank or mortgage broker. Then you know your budget and can focus your search on affordable properties. Applying for a mortgage can be a paper-heavy exercise so having all the required documents ready will help to make the process go smoothly. It is a worthwhile exercise as mortgage rates in the Eurozone are still at historic lows and it can be possible to get a 20 year fixed rate mortgage with a rate as low as 1.8%. Now is also a good time to get a mortgage, while the UK is still within the EU and there is certainty that the European banks can lend to British buyers. Read more about Mortgages For Buying a Ski Property

Get The Best Currency Exchange Rate
When you buy your ski home, it is likely that you will exchange your Pounds for Euros, Swiss Francs or even American or Canadian Dollars. Whilst your bank might seem the obvious go-to, the best rates are frequently found with specialist currency brokers. Currency brokers typically have better exchange rates, which can be significant when changing large sums of money into another currency and can save you thousands of pounds. They can also help with future currency exchange using forward contracts. Read more about Currency Exchange For Buying a Ski Property

How Long Will It Take To Buy A Property
Once you’ve found your dream property, and your offer has been accepted, it will take between 3-6 months to complete the purchase, depending on whether or not you will buy it with a mortgage.

Think About Cashflow
Remember to factor in the initial purchase costs (7% of the purchase price for a resale property in France), plus the ongoing costs of owning the property including any annual property taxes payable so there are no cashflow surprises along the way. Apartment owners normally have to pay maintenance or management charges too. Again, talk to a currency broker about the best way to handle future payments.

Make It Pay For Itself
Renting out your ski apartment or alpine chalet can be a good way to cover the costs of ownership. Talk to a ski holiday expert, or a resort-based holiday company, to work out the potential rental return, and how best to rent out the property. Holidaymakers pay more for the peak weeks of February half-term and New Year, so check that you can make the property available then rental is crucial to make it affordable to own. Ski-in/ski-out is the holy grail of ski holidays – and demands a premium price – so it’s sensible to choose a property close to the slopes or the resort centre. A hot tub rates highly among must-haves for more ski holidaymakers, so also think about what other facilities your property offers. Even if renting isn’t high on your list of priorities,  research shows that one of the most important factors for resale is the potential rental.    

So, In Conclusion...
Owning a ski property is a primarily a lifestyle purchase. There may be investment potential, and all the usual considerations should be made as for any property purchase, but the love of the mountains is the main reason people buy a home in a ski resort. If you are thinking of buying a ski property, look no further than nidski.com to start your ski property search.