Buying an investment property is a huge financial commitment, so you need to get it spot-on and make the best decisions from the get-go.
Hunting for investment properties for sale is complex at the best of times. When you throw a foreign country, foreign rules and an unknown buying process into the mix, it can open a can of worms if you’re not careful. The same goes for buying an investment property in the French Alps, so it's lucky you've got a team of experts to help you out.
Terrésens Group is a unique business operation. We specialise in the development, sale and long term management of homes, apartments and ski chalets in the French Alps. We see the development through from design and construction, all the way to the rental management of your French Alps property. The 360° service means customers never have to worry about a confusing process and they can spend time focusing on their property investment in the French Alps.
But, enough about us, let's get back to the task in hand. Here's our handy Guide to Buying Investment Property in the French Alps - to make sure you're always one step ahead of the process:
Why Should You Invest in the French Alps?
The French Alps, much like many of the world's hottest ski destinations, has a hot rental market, swathes of international visitors and year-round appeal for lovers of the outdoors.
The French Alps, in particular, is one of the most frequented mountain ranges in the world, especially for thrill-seekers keen to surf the slopes. With 254 ski resorts, roughly 3,000 ski lifts, more traditional Alpine villages than we can count and some of the most exhilarating trekking destinations.
Moreover, the French Alps is extremely well connected. A steady influx of budget airlines fly to the Alps’ main airports from the UK, including Geneva airport, Lyon and Grenoble, or you can catch a train from London to Lyon or Geneva. This easy accessibility, dual-season appeal and its crown as on the world’s hotspots for winter sports fanatics, the French Alps charm will never fade.
What to Consider When Buying Property in France
If you’re shopping for French properties as an investment, rather than a second home, you have to be a bit more tactical about the purchase rather than just buying a home that you fall in love with… you have to buy an Alpine property that your future guests want to live in, too.
So, what are some key features or considerations to bear in mind when delving into the French Alps investment property market?
The ski resort and its popularity
The biggest deciding factor for your investment property is likely to be the resort or ski area themselves and how popular they are. The more popular a ski resort is, the more likely you are to have a steady income throughout the ski season and beyond.
Having said that, due to the sheer volumes of avid skiers that hit the slopes (that also grows as each year passes), versus the new-build alpine properties available in the resorts, you shouldn't have a problem!
Investing in a French Alps property that is also managed by the developer will make your life as an investor and landlord SO much easier… especially if you live overseas.
A management company will take care of your property and will handle everything, meaning extra safety and security, and peace of mind that your luxury ski chalet or apartment is in good hands and being looked after while you are overseas. It will also save you a lot of time and life admin!
The French Alps is one of the most accessible clusters of ski resorts in the world, served by many domestic and international airlines to the main airports including Geneva airport, Chambery, Grenoble and Lyon Airport. You can also catch a direct train from London to a few of the main French Alps ski resorts.
It’s wise to choose a resort with excellent transport links, as this puts your investment property in front of a much wider scope of potential holidaymakers, and therefore increasing your chances for steady income throughout the year.
Dual season resorts
So, the ski season has ended; now what? The end to the ski season doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the regular rental income! One of the most wonderful things about the French Alps and many of its ski resorts is their natural beauty all year long.
Many ski resorts such as La Plagne, Chamonix, Chatel and Alpe d'Huez (to name a few) are buzzing throughout all four seasons, and they become a stunning haven for cyclists, bikers and general adventure seekers when the spring/summer seasons arrive. So, make sure you look out what’s happening in the summer seasons at your chosen resort.
Location of the property of luxury ski development
Many holidaymakers hitting the slopes will look for a luxury ski development that is very close to the slopes, often called ski-in ski-out properties. This means they avoid having to lug their ski equipment through the village every day or don’t need to wait for public transport to transfer them to the slopes each morning, meaning they have more time doing what they love - SKIING!
What Type of French Alps Property Should You Buy?
From ski apartments and chalets to new build properties or renovation projects, there are many different types of Alpine homes up for grabs, but which is best for the purpose of property investment in France? Well, this is largely down to personal preference, time-frames and budgets; there are pros and cons to them all.
Ski apartment or traditional alpine chalet?
A ski apartment in the French Alps will typically be a managed luxury residence. This allows you to leave your property in the capable hands of a management team who have a lot of experience in this area. So, you can relax at home without having to worry about a thing and let the management team handle rental queries, guests, and even a broken boiler.
Luxury ski apartments in the French Alps are still glamorous and comfortable, but a ski chalet will always offer the traditional and cosy feel that many holidaymakers are seeking when they head to the French Alps and a much more spacious living environment for their week by the slopes.
New build or renovation property?
Typically a new-build property will be more expensive to purchase, but they are ready to buy-and-go without the need to commit to any major investments. New-build properties also allow for money-savings in other ways, too. They will be fitted with appliances and fittings that comply with the latest energy performance standards, therefore saving on energy bills and running costs. Other costs associated with the purchase of a new build property (aside from the listing price) are generally lower than that of a renovation project, too.
A renovation project is likely to have a cheaper asking price than a new-build (not always), but depending on the condition of the property, you can end up paying far more than a new build in both major and minor renovations to the home.
However, many lovers of the French Alps often have a dream of owning the typical traditional Alpine property that is oozing with character and charm that wouldn't be found elsewhere - does this make a renovation project priceless?
The Purchase Process in France
The process of buying property and off-plan French properties can be broken down into stages;
- Signing a Pre-Reservation Contract and paying a holding deposit
- Sign the Contract of Reservation (VEFA Contract)
- If required, obtain financing
- Signature of the Deed of Sale
- Payments are then made in instalments, at different stages of the development
- Delivery of your property and handing over of the keys
- If desired, set up the management and concierge services
Pre-reservation and deposit
After making a selection, you can pre-reserve your future property by paying a deposit, generally between 2% - 5% of the property price, until the Contract of Reservation is signed. The deposit is held by a public notary in France and is fully refunded if the Contract of Reservation is not realised.
Contract of reservation
In France, you can purchase off-plan via a Vente en l’Etat Futur d’Achèvement contract. In order to complete the purchase, this contract, along with some additional documents regarding the property, must be signed. Once all the documents have been countersigned by us, they are returned to you. From the day the documents are received by you, there is a 10-day cooling-off period. This provides you with an opportunity for final reflection and moves forward in confidence.
Guarantees when buying an investment property in France
- Suspensive condition of loan: If the request for a loan if refused, the reservation is cancelled without a fee.
- Financial guarantee of completion of works: In France, it is mandatory so that the works are completed in the event of fault by the developer.
- Guarantee of perfect completion: The guarantee of perfect completion, whereby the contractor will repair disturbances noted during delivery for a period of 1 year.
- Biennial Guarantee: The biennial guarantee of good functioning, which for 2 years covers, in the event of damage to non-structural equipment.
- Decennial Guarantee: The ten-year guarantee covers for ten years all the disorders which - compromise the solidity of the works.
There are many ways to finance your investment property in France. We partner with some of the best international brokers that specialise in assisting international clients secure the best mortgages in France. They bring a wealth of experience and they know our programs and understand the needs of international purchases to provide excellent and professional assistance.
The purpose of a notaire in France is to represent both parties, the Purchaser and Developer, through the sales process. They ensure that everything is done according to the Law in France, and allow the process of sale to run efficiently. We can introduce you to our English-speaking notaire in France. Our partner is located close to our head office in Lyon so is quickly available. They will assist you through every step, ensuring that you have a complete understanding of all the legal aspects of your purchase in France.
Deed of Sale
The signing of the acte authentique or final deed of sale is the last step before becoming the official owner of the Alpine property. This takes place after the notary has finalised all the relevant documentation regarding your purchase.
Payments & Installments of French Alps Investment Property
The payments of your new investment property are made in instalments, at different stages of the development. Generally, payments are stagnated over 2 years, depending on the size of the project, and can look like the following:
- 2% Reservation deposit
- 28% At the beginning of works
- 5% When the foundations are in
- 30% Elevation of the ground floor
- 5% When the roof is on
- 20% of Interior walls and insulation
- 5% On completion of construction
- 5% Delivery of keys
What We Offer
Advice during your ski property search
We are dedicated to working with you to find the best solution in this incredible property market. Our team of consultants offer expert advice and assistance throughout your search and discovery for your second home or French Alps investment property and can be with you on-site when you visit in France. With advice from our architect, we can also design your new apartment to find the best interior configuration for your family.
Our Financial partners based in France, that are specialists in securing finance for non-residents, will help you secure your mortgage in France at the best rates available.
Our English speaking notaire in France can provide you with legal advice and assistance throughout the sales process.
Present throughout the alps, and with an international client base of over 2500, our Accountancy partner can take care of your fiscal requirements in France.
Rental management and concierge services
If you decide, we can set up a dedicated concierge service for you and manage the entire rental management of your property investment in France.
In order to provide a seamless delivery of your new apartment, we have created a full-service delivery pack for you to make the process easy and hassle-free.
Control of the delivery of your property
During the delivery of your property, it is necessary to have a third-party representative there to confirm that everything is in order. This inspection is made with you, the purchaser and the developer.
Control of the delivery of your furniture
The same applies to the delivery of furniture. The third-party representative inspects and ensures that all the furniture delivery is in the right condition and free from fault.
We can also provide you with assistance in finding and setting up your water and electricity contract, as well as your Wi-Fi service.
Additional Terreséns Services
Rental management and concierge services
Most apartments or ski chalets can be purchased as a standard second home, or as a managed rental property. If you are seeking to generate rental income, we can manage the entire rental process and set up a dedicated concierge service. You have priority over your dates of occupancy dual season, for both the winter and summer month. By choosing this option you can save 20% VAT on the purchase price, as well as other tax advantages to complement your flexible usage of the property – please contact us for further details on this type of tax-efficient, hassle-free ownership.