We have always urged our clients to consider three primary criteria when considering a purchase in the Alps: a large well joined-up ski area, proximity to the slopes, and snow-sure credentials. For three years in a row, we’ve had a poor start to the season, yet for the last two years the season has ended well, with fine conditions at altitude well into April last year. Is this the new normal?
None of us at HB would even pretend to be climate experts, of course we acknowledge that worryingly, global warming is certainly a factor. However, if we assume that the pace of climate change overall is extremely gradual, then what we are seeing are noticeably large swings around the mean, and in this context, there is nothing new. There will be many examples over time – one that we would highlight, and well before global warming came along, is the temperature in St Moritz during the 1924 winter Olympics, in February, which reached 24c on the day of the bob run. Needless to say, events were postponed until it cooled down again!
What do we mean by snow-sure, and what is the premium to have it on your doorstep? We take a combination of altitude, input from third party sources and our own experiences. Our attempts to quantify the premium have a few caveats (**see below): it is always hard to compare different resorts just on price and there will always be degrees of subjectivity. Some ski areas, for example in the Trois Vallées lend themselves well to this survey; others, like Chamonix do not, or Megève, which occupies the middle ground. Further influencing factors will be for example supply growth (or lack of), the ski area itself, the social ‘brand’, quality of infrastructure and distance from airport.
Overall, our survey points to values in snow-sure resorts carrying considerable premiums. Location should always be high priority and properties at lower altitude are a tough sell when there isn’t enough snow. Of course, some buyers may feel these significant savings outweigh the premium, if you are prepared to jump in the car, take a longer ski-lift or ski-bus journey. However, unless we return to fuller seasons and plenty of snow over Christmas and New Year, we suspect the premium will be sustained or even expand further.
**Caveats: Our focus is on ski areas where there is a representative stock of chalets and larger apartments for sale. Our price range in the survey is c€1.5m-5m. Values are based on asking prices. Values can vary significantly with specific locations within the resort area, we therefore have not included the outliers. For consistency, we have added back the 20% TVA rebate on the few lease-back developments in the survey. The other strict criteria for our comparison is that the properties sampled in the survey are located in the resort itself with easy (a short walk or ski bus) access to the slopes.