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Real estate in the Austrian Alps – a promising direction for investment

Alps – the world’s largest market for ski tourism. According to estimates of Laurent Vanat, the founder of the Swiss consulting company Laurent Vanat Consulting SARL, this region accounted for 150 million visits in 2017, which is 43% of all visits to winter resorts in the world.

An Alpine chalet and an apartment overlooking the mountains is not only a luxury item, but also a profitable investment if their owner is ready to rent the property to tourists. There is a special type of objects – tourist real estate – these are apartments with hotel services, which are organized by professional operators. The owner of such a property can lease the property permanently or several months a year. There are two control schemes for such objects:

Rental pool – the management company’s fee (about 30%) is deducted from the rental income of the entire residential complex, and the profit is divided between the apartment owners in proportion to their share.
Rental guarantee – the management company rents apartments from the investor for a limited period. In this case, the property owner receives a lower yield, but the management company assumes the risks associated with finding tenants.
The extension of the season and the change of generations of tourists
Growing interest in investing in alpine real estate is due to new trends in local resorts. The main one is the expansion of the tourist season. Alpine resorts are developing infrastructure for practicing now not only winter but also summer sports: climbing, paragliding and sailing, equip routes for hiking and mountain biking.

Real estate in the Alps
Lake Zeller, the picturesque Schmittenhöhe mountain and the only Kitzsteinhorn glacier in the state of Salzburg make the Austrian resort Zell am See – Kaprun popular at any time of the year. Photo: Jana Schreiber
Another important trend is the change of generations of tourists. Europe’s population is aging, which leads, on the one hand, to a reduction in the total number of skiers, and on the other, to an increase in the popularity of less active sports, such as sledding or walking. In parallel with this, the number of tourists of the millennial generation increases (age 20–35 years), financially secure and often prefer to book an entire house or apartment for a weekend instead of spending the night at a hotel.

Alpine real estate markets
Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland – the four largest players in the international market of ski resorts, located in the Alps

Swiss Engadin – St. Moritz holds the position of the most expensive resort in the region. Here the highest prices for real estate in the Alps: the cost per square meter reaches 20 thousand euros. At the same time, Switzerland is experiencing a decline in interest in its winter resorts: according to Laurent Vanat’s estimates, over 10 years, from 2006 to 2016, the total number of visits has decreased by 1.5 million, and the proportion of foreign visitors has decreased to 46%.

Alpine real estate market
In recent years, foreign tourists increasingly prefer Switzerland, which is not inferior in quality, but more budget resorts in Austria. Photo: Jana Schreiber
The peculiarity of the French ski resorts market is the focus on domestic tourism. Foreign tourists make up only 31% of the total number of guests. In the winter season 2015–2016, France had 52 million visits, which is 3.5% less than the season before. There are more tourist complexes in the local real estate market, where guests rent entire apartments than hotels. The price per square meter reaches here 18 thousand euros. British buyers are considered key in the French property market, and it is not known how the fall of the British pound will affect France in the winter season 2017–2018.

Ski resorts in the north of Italy are also focused mainly on local tourists. In the winter season 2015–2016, Italian resorts visited about 24.6 million times, and only 35% of tourists came from abroad.

Alpine real estate market
Austria: while prices are one third below the regional average
Although in the winter season 2015–2016, Austrian resorts were visited by 3% fewer guests than the previous one, the share of foreigners is growing – according to Laurent Vanat, they account for 66% of the total number of tourists. Almost half of them come from Germany, many guests from the Netherlands and the UK. Austria is actively investing in its resorts: since 2000, more than 7 billion euros have been invested in the ski infrastructure.

Favorable location at medium altitudes (about 800-2,000 meters) allows most Austrian resorts to receive tourists all year round, while France’s high-altitude resorts like Val-d’Isere and La Plagne close for the summer due to cold weather. on high.

Real estate in the Alps
Tauplitz is one of the many Alpine ski resorts in Austria open for tourists all year round. Photo: Jana Schreiber
“With a similar quality of real estate, prices in Austria are about 28% lower than the average for the Alps. But they will not stay at this level for a long time, ”says a study by Austrian company Business Environment Consulting (BEC).

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