Automne Copyright Nendaz Tourisme 2018

The ski season fast approaches and with it that dream of escaping to a home in the mountains. Are you looking to invest in a ‘safe haven’ market like Switzerland, with its buoyant currency and rising house prices? Or maybe somewhere to enjoy a better quality of life in the mountains for you and your family. Here we provide 10 key things to consider when buying a Swiss ski property.

1. Set your budget.

Research prices per square metre and be realistic. Prices have been rising in Swiss resorts, with the Lex Koller limits on second homes squeezing values too.

2. Pin down your resort.

Following on from setting your budget, is it better to choose a smaller, more affordable resort within a great ski area? Les Collons in the Four Valleys is one example. Do you want a year-round town like Crans-Montana, or a high-altitude ski resort like Verbier?

3. Rent or not to rent?

Buying a property for your exclusive use has different considerations than if you plan to rent it out to cover its running costs. This include access, amenities and size. Some properties now come with a rental obligation – would this suit you? Yet they might restrict your own usage. Some apartment complexes have contracts with a tour operator which comes with advantages and disadvantages.

4. See it for yourself.

Video tours of properties have come a long way during Covid. Yet seeing and feeling a property yourself is always preferable and experiencing its location we would argue is even more important. Arrange to see some properties with an agent who really knows the area, and has access to a wide range of options, like Alpine Homes in the Swiss Ak.

5. Dual season appeal.

With climate change – and a shift towards hybrid working – a reality, many resorts have been upping their dual-season offerings. Yet some are still better than others. This goes back to pinning down your resort. Crans-Montana offers golf, surfing, and a vibrant summer scene. Verbier now offers a yoga festival, children’s summer school and hydrospeeding to keep adrenaline junkies happy when there’s no snow.

Crans-Montana resort

6. Find the right estate agent.

Finding a new home in Switzerland has become trickier as pandemic demand has depleted the properties available for sale in many resorts. This makes it even more important to find the right person with access to off-market properties – don’t just think that what is advertised online is all there is - Alpine Homes always has around 20 homes available discreetly. You need someone patient and flexible to help you – sometimes a boutique agency can be more agile. Which brings us to…

7. Size matters.

Know the rules about buying in Switzerland. A non-Swiss resident buyer can only purchase up to 250 sqm in one name. There are ways of purchasing a larger property under two names – we can provide advice on this. Also, how much size do you need? A smaller lock-and-go apartment might be easier and more affordable to maintain than a standalone chalet.

8. Consider running costs

Energy costs are rising across Europe and whilst the Swiss have always been ahead of the curve in terms of building new homes sustainably, you are going to want to reduce bills and save the planet. If you add solar panels to a property you can get grants and tax deductions from both the commune and the Swiss government. You can retro-fit solar panels too.

9. Look at the long-term investment.

From new or faster ski lifts, new transport links or other investment into ski areas, look at what’s on the horizon. New schools (such as Verbier) or expanding ones (Le Régent in Crans-Montana) attract international buyers.

Verbier resort

10. Be tax savvy.

Okay, it’s Switzerland so maybe we are preaching to the converted, but if you are not, find out all your tax obligations before you buy. Non-Swiss residents will pay higher tax if they sell their property within five years of buying it. Look into any possible benefits or deductions too (see number 8).

Find out more: Alpine Homes is a family-run agency with two decades of experience selling homes to international buyers. We can find you anything from a studio apartment or an uber-chalet in the Valais. Get in touch now.