Ski Property Report 2021 - What lies ahead?

We highlight four trends and events that ski homeowners should have on their radar over the next 12 months.
Written By:
Kate Everett-Allen, Knight Frank
3 minutes to read

UK residents eligible for a dual nationality can still apply for a second passport solving questions about freedom of movement, pensions and healthcare. UK owners of Swiss ski homes should see less disruption given Switzerland remains outside the EU.

1. Brexit implications

From 1 January 2021, UK citizens travelling to the European Union (EU) are likely to require an ESTA style visa. It will be valid for a set period of time and should allow unlimited visits within that period. It’s also important to note that the EHIC card will no longer provide insurance when travelling in the EU.

For UK nationals with a ski home in France, employing UK nationals such as cleaning or chalet staff will become more complex as staff have to be employed by companies registered in the host country and both parties have to pay social security contributions locally at higher rates. In addition, Alex Ogario, a partner in Knight Frank Finance, points out: “UK buyers seeking finance for their alpine home may need to work harder to find the most suitable finance package, as some of the current options may disappear”.

2. Currency play

Currency movements can create substantial shifts in buying power for overseas purchasers. Add property price performance to the equation and the highs and low can be magnified further.

"2020 has already seen significant volatility but a US election, Brexit and the pandemic are only likely to lead to increased instability in the coming months."

In times of global uncertainty, the Swiss franc is a go-to safe haven for investors and whilst it may be expensive, many consider exposure to the currency in the name of diversification a price worth paying. Analysts at Credit Suisse estimate the Swiss National Bank sold more than $98bn worth of Swiss francs in the first half of 2020 alone.

3. Design & technology

The pandemic is likely to hasten new design trends as developers look to adapt their homes to cater for a change in living and working patterns. Ski homes will be no different.

We expect new developments to incorporate a better and more flexible use of space as people spend longer and place more demands on their ski home. Apartments are likely to see larger terraces and balconies, whilst larger complexes will offer business amenities such as video conferencing and printing facilities.

As we highlighted in our Global Development Report, reliable broadband throughout the entire building will be a must to enable flexible working. The pandemic will also drive automation including facial or voice recognition and wave-sensor activation in communal areas such as lifts. Plus, the use of antibacterial materials and air filtration systems will increase.

4. The rise of the 50/50 home

Across all our ski markets, the last six months have seen second homes reclassified as semi-permanent homes and with this comes higher expectations. Whether a home office, outdoor space, faster broadband, a cinema room, smart technology – these homes now need to have as high a specification as the owner’s primary residence.

In Switzerland, the repercussions could be significant. With workers in Geneva, Lausanne or Montreux no longer officebound, a number are decamping to their ski homes. If these are recategorised as permanent residences, the proportion of second homes may fall below the 20% cap imposed by Lex Weber back in 2014, enabling new development to take place for the first time in over a decade.

5. Long term rentals as a precursor to future sales

As many parts of the world contemplate second or third waves of the pandemic and tighter lockdown restrictions this winter, we’re seeing demand for long-term lets strengthen as ‘The Great Working From Home Experiment’ has opened up new windows of opportunity.

It’s allowing people to test the waters before buying in parts of the world they may never have previously explored some with an ‘option to buy’ clause built into the rental agreement. Rents are competitive with major urban centres such as London, New York or Geneva and you can hit the slopes in your lunch break.

Main photo by Banff Sunshine Village on Unsplash