We spoke to Gareth from Alpine Property to get the lowdown on why you should consider moving to this beautiful mountain range.
Could you introduce yourself and your company?
I’ve been with Alpine Property from the beginning. My wife and I left the Police Service in West Yorkshire and headed out to the Alps to follow our dream of living in the mountains. As a youth I had an interest in computing and thankfully kept that up until 2000 when I met the boss of Alpine Property in Morzine. He had just started the business with Claudia Buttet and needed someone to help out with the website and email enquiries. It was very much the case of “right time, right place”.
How long have you been in business and how many agents do you have?
Since 1999, 12 agents at the moment, covering all the ski areas of the Northern Alps (Haute Savoie) and quite a few of the villages too.
Why did you choose this particular area? What makes it special?
It’s the closest ski areas to Geneva airport. When we started out we had some very good value opportunities when compared to the more famous Chamonix and Megeve. Morzine/Les Gets and Chatel are where the core of the business and in the early 2000’s offered “undiscovered family skiing”, it’s now been well and truly “discovered”! It’s special because our main areas are towns and villages attached to skiing, not purpose built resorts created for skiing. That gives a very different feel.
What is the typical budget that someone has when buying an Alpine property? What is your typical type of buyer?
Our typical sale is a 450,000€ chalet about 10-20min from the skiing. Our buyers range from people looking to spend 100,000€ on a 1 bedroom apartment up to between 1-2m€ on a James Bond style alpine retreat. Our customers are 50% French and 50% Anglophone.
Do your clients buy properties as a holiday home or to rent out during the ski season?
Both and to live in all year around.
Should someone invest in a property in the Alps and why?
It’s been a solid investment over the years, both in providing rental returns and capital appreciation. It’s more than that though. It’s important to remember that many of the purchases are made from the heart, fulfilling a dream. If a customer is focused on rental returns then they might be better off buying a rentable property in the UK, the returns are often higher.
If you were to rent out a property in the Alps, what is the typical return? Does this differ from summer to winter?
It depends on the property and area; some properties are more rentable in the summer than others. For instance, a well-placed property with bike storage (a garage) in Morzine or Les Gets will rent to mountain bikers all summer. On average you will get 70% of your rental from the winter and 30% in the summer. Returns? 2 to 5%
The Alps are known for being popular with skiers, but when there is no snow, what else makes this region appealing?
If you ask one of the many full time residents “if you had to choose to keep one season which would it be?” 9/10 the answer is summer. The summers are beautiful, with quite settled weather and a vast array of activities, such as: walking; hanging out on the lakes (swimming/sailing etc); road or mountain biking; climbing; paragliding; horse riding to name a few.
Can you only buy chalets in the Alps or are there other styles of property available?
There are Chalets/Apartments/Chalet d’Alpage (mountain chalets) but also some properties that are closer to houses or villas by the lakes.
Has the type of buyer changed in the last 12 months? Why?
We are getting a higher percentage of serious enquiries at the moment. More skewed at under 1m€ than over.
Has all the political uncertainty in the media changed buyers’ views on buying in France?
It’s cut back on the speculative/window shopping type of enquiry. It has made some people more determined than ever to put down some roots in Europe too.
Does the Alps have any special dishes/delicacies?
Any interesting facts about this region?
Culturally the Haute Savoie should be considered as part of the old “Savoy”; pretty much a country in its own right with strong links to Italy. When compared to the rest of France, the Haute Savoie is an economic powerhouse with low unemployment. Tourism boosted its income significantly but it has a strong manufacturing base too and benefits economically from its Swiss neighbour Geneva.
Could you sum up the Alps in a few words? Why should someone move here?
Come to the Alps if you love the mountains. The more people that fall in love with the mountains, the more will want to have roots in the Alps!
Thank you Gareth for taking the time to answer our questions.
For more information on the Alps or what properties Alpine Property have available, please contact Gareth or visit their website.