In the Autumn people start thinking about booking ski holidays and many will be thinking about looking at property while they are there, either window shopping or getting close to making a purchase.
Whether you are using a property finder or an agency make sure they are 100% committed to your project and responsive to any questions you may have. Many properties now have 360˚ photography which will give you a good feel for a property before viewing, helping the filtering process.
If you are not a cash buyer it is worth looking at your finance options before you leave. French banks require large amounts of paperwork and the sooner you can get the process going before you travel, the better. Fixed rate mortgages are worth consideration to avoid exchange rate fluctuations. Stamp duty and legal fees are paid by the buyer and added to the sale price at approximately 6.5% – 10% subject to the value of the property.
Any property purchase involves compromise and so it is worth considering your criteria in an ideal world i.e. maximum distance from slopes, access to the lift system, traditional or new build etc. although things can change if you have an instant ‘coup de coeur’ for a property that doesn’t match all of your initial criteria.
If you are looking at it from more of an investment perspective the priorities will be rental potential, the kind of tenants the property will attract i.e. families/ski parties, access from airports and transport links. Consider also visiting in the summer to make sure that the resort is a place that you and your tenants will enjoy year-round. If you are buying leaseback make sure you do due diligence on the developer and management company and visit the site.
Many people have favourite ski villages but the Alps are expansive and depending on your budget you may decide to look at a number of resorts. The well-known resorts such as Val d’Isere, Courchevel, Alpe d’Huez, Avoriaz, Méribel and Chamonix attract buyers from all over the world but if you are yet to decide on location it is worth considering less well-known resorts such Saint-Gervais-les-Bains also known as Saint Gervais Mont Blanc. Whilst a lot of people mistakenly think Mont Blanc is in Chamonix and it is possible to use the Chamonix cable car to take you up to 3800m and walk the last 1000m, the highest mountain in Western Europe is actually located in Saint Gervais Mont Blanc and the main walking route known as ‘la voie normale’ starts in St Gervais at 1350m.
Once you have bought the property, having assistance with the issues that arise can be very reassuring whether you are relocating to France or the property is going to be a holiday home/investment – from taxe foncière/taxe d’habitation bills to correspondence and meetings with the co-ownership committee (co-propriété) for flats. If you are looking at older properties always try to get sight of minutes from past committee meetings to make sure that there are no major works planned which you would be liable for paying a share or that you are at least aware of them if you decide to buy.
If you are renting the property whilst you are not there deciding whether to manage rentals through a local agent or an online company such as Airbnb will come down to cost and personal preference and it sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find the right formula. However, if you are buying leaseback rentals will be managed for you.
Emily Southcombe BA Hons PGDipSurv
Founder of Southman Property, Bespoke Property Search and Relocation http://www.southmanproperty.com/home