Strong Dollar Adds Investment Appeal to French Alps

13.02.17

Wealthy lifestyle investors from the USA, Middle East and Asia, including British expats, are becoming increasingly prominent in the luxury sector of France's Alpine property market.

High-end resorts in the French Alps, including Méribel, Courchevel, Morzine, Chamonix, Val d'Isère and Megève, have been especially attractive to buyers with dollar-based capital since major currencies, in particular the euro, slumped against the dollar. The dollar has become more than 20%  stronger against the euro during the past two years.

For expats in international business hot spots such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and Singapore, who typically are remunerated or have assets in dollars, investing in the French Alps could make a lot of sense right now. The same stands for nationals of other rich Gulf states. Their buying power is the best it has been in more than a decade, not forgetting how the current long-term value of French mortgages, with rates still hovering around record lows, also can be used to their advantage. Ski homes can be the perfect hands-off investment for expats, delivering real lifestyle benefits, both in the summer and winter, while providing them with a European asset.

Unsettled political conditions on both sides of the Atlantic are also driving investors to more established and proven real estate markets. In the USA, Trump's election is said to have ignited interest in European markets, including the French Alps, amongst Americans unsure about investing in their own country. Meanwhile, the UK's departure from the European Union is thought to be encouraging international investors to diversify their portfolios, to include property assets within countries remaining in the EU, including France, as well as the UK.

Especially in demand with affluent buyers are new-build chalets. In top resorts, building plots in prime spots are in diminishing supply, helping to maintain values. And those that opt for a luxury apartment in a leaseback residence could also benefit from the 20% VAT rebate. In addition, a number of top-flight resorts have upped their game through infrastructure investments. Courchevel, for instance, opened a £50-million water park last year, while Chamonix is in the process of a €477-million lift upgrade.

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