Ski resort properties in Switzerland: buy alpine dream

Breathtaking landscapes, majestic snowy mountains and picturesque bejewelled resorts, Switzerland boasts the highest nominal wealth per adult in the world and that means the highest standards in living, healthcare and education. With the Swiss Franc firmly retaining its value, investing in a property in a Swiss ski resort, whether as a primary residence or secondary home, Switzerland offers the safe haven credentials and is top of the list in the globe for strong currency, economy, privacy and security.

swiss ski resortsBuying property in Switzwerland is a long-term investment

Culturally diverse with four different languages spoken around the country’s 26 cantons, brush up on the rules about foreign ownership when buying in Switzerland. Consider everything from climate change to currency rates, so you can weigh up the multiple factors on where to purchase your Swiss ski property. Perhaps it’s no surprise that 40% of ski home purchases in the Alps are overseas buyer investors due in part to the sharp rise in the dual season as summer tourist numbers now rival the winter months, as well as a number of Swiss ski resorts such as Zermatt, Verbier and Crans Montana host to some of the world’s top private schools.

A strong long-term investment strategy in Swiss ski resorts is also luring buyers from all over the world, with the highly fashionable ski resorts of Villars and Verbier, on top for property price performance. Both resorts have heavily invested in infrastructure such as new ski lifts, hotels, spas, non-ski activities, leisure and sports activists. Crans Montana benefits from two massive super luxury hotel openings; Verbier offers new lifts and a sport centre, while at St Moritz you can privately book the Corvatsch ski area until midnight, enjoy new cable cars and connection to ski areas. The new Swiss Magic Pass is another big draw for property buyers, as it offers seasoned skiers access to 30 resorts and 1,000 km of slopes for around CHF 500 per year.

Ski resorts are live in winter time only, aren't they?

Snowfall and lots of it, is another key driving force for property buyers investing in Swiss ski resorts, with snowfall reaching record levels. In Courchevel (in France) during 2017-2018 ski season the resort had more than 5m falling between November and April - double than the previous year and Verbier’s snowfall was 8.23m, the highest of the 16 resorts tracked.

Climate change is certainly making an impact and with temperatures rises of just under 2 degrees Celsius, global warming means changes in rain and snowfall patterns, so advanced skiers might want to target high altitude resorts to invest in as a way of maximising length of season. The exclusive Swiss ski resorts of Gstaad and Verbier, offer the longest season length – with Verbier the high ranking top resort for ease of access, and one of the sunniest resorts with the broadest range of leisure activities and also the highest resort at 1,850m.

verbierProperty prices in Swiss ski resorts

House prices vary dramatically from area-to-area and after a decade of house price growth hikes up an astonishing 97% since 2007. Over the last year, the euro appreciated by almost 10% against the Swiss Franc, but now the Swiss Franc is carrying back its point, making the prices almost equal in both currencies (CHF 1 = EUR 0.9125), and the average asking price per square metre is CHF 13,000 (in a global context, Zurich is anyway still cheaper than Hong Kong or London). The big hitters are the resorts of St Moritz, the most expensive Swiss ski resort to buy around CHF 15,400 per square metre, then Gstaad at CHF 14,300 and Verbier at CHF 12,300, with smaller resorts such as Villars and Leysin, coming in under CHF 8,000, with Villars enjoying a 6% price growth.

For larger properties, the price per metre increases with the average price of a 4-bedroom prime location chalet for example in Crans-Montana is CHF 12,623 per metre sq rated 2 in summer seasons rental with a 23-week season, whereas in Verbier it jumps to CHF 22,365 with a No.1 ranking for summer season rentals and a 25-week season. So consider all of your buying requirements, whether you plan to rent out your ski property during the summer or winter months. Expect to pay more per metre, depending on your level of luxury: a super luxurious 4 level home contains 10 rooms spread across 695 metre squared comes with a cellar and a fitness room will set you back CHF 8,240,000 in Crans-Montana, whereas in the pretty resort of Leysin, you can pick up a 42-metre squared 1 bedroom apartment for CHF 230,000 or CHF 347,400 for a 40-metre squared super stylish, stunning apartment in Haute-Nendaz.

So, depending on your budget, you can buy all manner of property from bijou apartments to super luxurious super-sized houses in many of the top destination Swiss ski resorts, where tourist facilities are generally rated highly and smaller regions too.

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Law restrictions for foreign property buyers in Switzerland

Now is a great time to buy in Switzerland, so just what is the buying criteria for an overseas investor purchasing in a Swiss ski resort?

Switzerland restricts the acquisition of property by foreigners by means of law and regulations on Federal, Cantonal, and Communal level. That means foreigners that wish to acquire Swiss residential property, must obtain approval from the authorities prior to their purchase. In Switzerland, the 20% cap on second homes (Lex Weber) limits options for buyers, but the ‘residence hoteliers’ provide an alternative means for you to acquire a property and rent it out when not in use. So, you can buy property in Switzerland if you are an EU or EFTA national with Swiss residence permit or if you hold a Swiss C Permit. In both cases, you have the same rights as a Swiss citizen to purchase property that you can buy as investment property, holiday homes or commercial as a well as a primary residence. Licensing criteria varies from canton to canton, and the process is not fast, so be prepared for a three month wait. The good news is that the cost of owning your own property in Switzerland (interest costs, maintenance and provisions) is today around 15% lower that the cost of renting a comparable property.