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For Sale within the French Alps: Ski Chalet With a Backyard Mountain Range


This four-bedroom chalet is perched on the brow of a hill in Samoëns, a town within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of southeast France, bordering Switzerland. Large windows and wide sliding doors offer panoramic views of the mountain-ringed Giffre Valley and the Grand Massif ski station within the Haute-Savoie area.

“Your gaze is consistently drawn outside, taking within the sweeping epic views that forge a deep sense of reference to the natural world,” said Rebecca Watkins, who owns the chalet along with her husband, John Watkins. The property, on just below 1 / 4 acre, is listed with Jeoffrey Sarrasin, a sales consultant with the Mont Blanc office of Barnes International Realty.

In-built 2019, the three,229-square-foot wood home is an ecologically designed, energy-efficient tackle the region’s typical ski chalet and the standard Savoyard farm. It has a gently sloping roof and dramatic eaves overhanging the front and sides, which keep the inside cool throughout the summer. Moreover, the property faces 130 degrees southeast to supply maximum solar gain. The sun streams through the back of the home in winter, but not in summer.

Just past a two-car carport, the front door opens at street level. Steps lead right down to a foyer with an alcove and a fantastic room framed in Douglas fir, with a beamed vaulted ceiling, wood flooring and a Scandinavian-inspired open kitchen. A rough stone fireplace and a television area of interest anchor the den area. Near the central seating area, sliding doors open to a broad balcony with wood and glass balustrades running the length of the home.

The bespoke kitchen has a separate timber-toned open pantry, an island with waterfall-style countertops of solid engineered limestone, and premium appliances. Also on the major level is a guest bedroom with an adjoining bathroom.

On the lower level, three additional en suite bedrooms have sliding glass doors to a garden terrace abutting the back lawn. The monochromatic bathrooms have cream fossilized limestone tiles, illuminated vanity mirrors and oversized vanity sinks and showers. A gym, sauna, laundry room and storage room are also on the lower level.

The choice and layout of varied flowering plants within the gardens and meadows were designed to be “pollinator-friendly” and encourage biodiversity, Ms. Watkins said.

Near the road is a two-car detached carport with an office below. Steps lead right down to the terrace and gardens.

The resort town of Samoëns, about 40 miles east of Geneva, Switzerland, is a preferred destination for each winter and summer sports enthusiasts. This property is a 10-minute drive from a supermarket, quarter-hour from the ski slopes and quarter-hour from Lac de Flérier.

The regular growth of ski-resort areas within the European Alps goes back to 2013 and the tip of the worldwide financial crisis and credit crunch. “Between 2012 and 2022, the rise in real estate prices reached 50 percent,” said Steve Hillion, deputy director of Barnes Mont-Blanc and director of Barnes Megève.

Ski properties in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, which borders Switzerland and includes the metropolis of Lyon, remain as popular as ever. “Demand continues to extend as clients seek a secure refuge for his or her money in an environment of rising inflation and economic uncertainty,” Mr. Hillion said.

However the pandemic-induced boom, which saw skiers and summer-sports aficionados scoop up chalets and apartments across the realm, may flatten out, said Jeremy Rollason, head of Savills Ski, which is able to release its annual report on Nov. 24. While a scarcity of accessible homes drives the highest end of the residential market, “double-digit price growth is unlikely to proceed into 2023, with growth more more likely to plateau in certain locations,” Mr. Rollason said.

Val d’Isére, Courchevel and Méribel — premium ski resort areas on the high altitudes of Haute-Savoie — “naturally appeal to a smaller cohort of rich buyers, looking for the most effective skiing conditions,” said Kate Everett-Allen, head of International Residential Research for Knight Frank and creator of its ski property report, released Nov. 15.

Pent-up demand from three seasons of closures and restrictions at ski areas sparked a 5.8 percent price jump within the 12 months ending in June, up from 4.6 percent the previous 12 months, Ms. Everett-Allen said, citing Knight Frank data. Most inquiries during that point were “from domestic buyers,” she said.

Apartment dwellers in Paris, Lyon, Annecy and Geneva yearned for the countryside or mountains, and distant work made it possible to relocate full- or part-time to resort areas. In Megève, known for each its winter and summer beauty, chalet prices increased by 40 percent between 2018 and 2021 (including by 25 percent for apartments), said Bertrand Rassat, country manager for Baerz & Co.

Lately, due partially to the warming climate, he said, “an increasing number of resorts are diversifying their leisure activities and developing a four-seasons offer.”

Many foreign buyers use and likewise rent out their chalets. Homes accommodating 10 to 14 people can rent for 250,000 euros every week ($260,000), staffed with skilled chefs and drivers, Mr. Rollason said.

Within the resort area of Chamonix, which sits within the shadow of Mont Blanc near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy, the appeal has long been year-round, with mountaineering, biking and mountain climbing in summer, said Martin Beaujouan, a lifelong resident and an actual estate consultant with efficity.com. Upon reopening after the initial pandemic shutdown, Chamonix saw sales volume increase compared with prepandemic levels as buyers sought refuge within the mountains. “It’s a paradise for mountain sports,” Mr. Beaujouan said.

Two-bedroom apartments in Chamonix sell for between 800,000 and 1.5 million euros ($831,000 and $1.56 million), while five-bedroom chalets go for between 3 million and 6 million euros ($3.1 million and $6.2 million), Mr. Hillion said. Latest chalets with pools and views of Mont Blanc or near the ski runs range from 16,000 to 22,000 euros per square meter ($1,540 to $2,120 per square foot).

Three-bedroom chalets needing renovations start at 950,000 euros ($987,000), he said, noting that these properties “don’t stay available on the market for long.”

The market can also be fueled by easy accessibility. Unlike within the neighboring Swiss Alps, there are not any restrictions on buyers within the French Alps. About 18,000 total sales closed in Haute-Savoie and 10,700 in Savoie last 12 months, Mr. Rassat said.

This 12 months within the region, about half of all buyers have been French residents, compared with 80 percent in 2020, Mr. Hillion said.

Mr. Rassat said that “the leading international buyers are the British, followed by the Russians, the Swiss and the Dutch. Depending on the resort, the distribution may vary: The British, for instance, are likely to favor Val d’Isére, while the Russians are mainly present in Courchevel and Méribel.”

Many buyers come from Scandinavia and the Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg Mr. Rollason said.

American buyers are currently “seeing quite an enormous discount resulting from the dollar,” Ms. Everett-Allen said — about 15 percent in October compared with the previous 12 months. The favorable currency exchange also woos buyers from Hong Kong, the Middle East and Latin America, she said.

There are not any restrictions on foreign buyers, apart from some Russian and Iranian oligarchs, said Pierre Jay, a notary within the Haute-Savoie department and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

Closing costs run about 7 percent of the acquisition price, Mr. Jay said. Stamp duties total about 5.9 percent of the sales price, registration fees cost about 0.1 percent, and notary fees are roughly 1 percent.

Mortgages can be found for foreign buyers.

Latest homes have a built-in advantage for buyers. When purchasing off-plan, buyers can receive a 20 percent value-added tax rebate in the event that they comply with rent the property with a registered management company for at the least 20 years and include three of 4 possible amenities: linens, regular cleansing/housekeeping, breakfast, and reception for guests. (If the property is rented for lower than 20 years, a number of the VAT might be repayable pro rata, Ms. Everett-Allen said.)

French; euro (1 euro = $1.04)

The annual taxes on this property total about 2,000 euros ($2,075), Mr. Sarrasin said.

Jeoffrey Sarrasin, Barnes International Realty, 011-33-4-48-05-09-45, Barnes-international.com

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