Alpine ski property has seen enormous growth in the last year, with the USA outstripping Europe by a considerable margin.
Ski property in US hotspots like Colorado's high-class Aspen resort enjoyed as much as 20% price growth, with property in the world-famous Rocky Mountains increased by 13%. Meanwhile, European Alpine property saw a comparatively modest 1% price increase in 2014.
In the Alpine Property Market Spotlight PDF published earlier this month by Savills World Research, it is indicated that although more European Alpine sales are taking place, they are at lower price points. The research concludes that this shows the resilience of the ultra-prime market 'rippling down' to lower prices.
Managing director at Alpine Homes, Jeremy Rollason said: "12 months ago we predicted prolonged periods of sunshine and blue skies for the Alpine property market. This may have been a somewhat easy prediction given a recovering world economy, increased confidence and job security and in the case of UK buyers, a steady strengthening of Sterling."
The country seeing better growth in its Alpine property market than many others is Switzerland, due to its location outside of the EU politically, adjacent geographically which boosts the appeal as a convenient and desirable safe-haven.
This factor has resulted in Switzerland's resorts carrying a price premium. The perennially popular Verbier resort has a median price tag of €22,400/sqm, 80% higher than the average. This is represented in Savills report with the Top 10 Ultra-Prime Resorts including 5 Swiss locations.
Rollason continues, "Verbier and the Four Valleys remain ever-popular and is the destination of choice for many international buyers." However, he then cautions that "supply restrictions with the new Lex Weber law (limiting the number of second homes to no more than 20% of the total) will begin to bite in the next one to two years, once existing supply is absorbed. Upwards price pressure in the leading Swiss ski resorts is inevitable, though there are still deals in the resale market for those that shop around."
Austria offers comparative affordability although deeply involved in the Eurozone, with its seasonal duality of snowy winters and beautifully warm summers together with its diverse culture, there are attractive rental yields available with Austrian ski property.
Rental returns on ski property in Austria - currently yielding around 5%-7% annually - are around twice the returns on equivalent properties in France or Switzerland.
Just one Austrian resort made it into Savills' Top 10 Ultra-Prime Resorts – Kitzbuhel – where prices range between €8000 and €15,000/sqm. Austrian resort locations such as Bad Gastein and Zell are significantly cheaper.
Over in France, the Alpine market has seen returning stability with many opportunities for buyers. The French ski property market has the widest price diversity with properties in Courchevel at a median €34,000/sqm comparing with St Gervais at €4,000/sqm. Although French ski resorts see better snowfall than some resorts in other Alpine countries the season is only of average length, limiting rental yields for property investors.
Across the Alpine areas of Europe, there is returning vibrancy with ski property offering an interesting alternative to coastal property investment. Market experts believe Alpine properties will continue to see growth through to 2018 at least.