Major new trends for the ski property market
The ski real estate market has been affected by Covid-19, but the forecast is confident with skier numbers on the rise and resorts investing in infrastructure… Just enjoy the mountain lifestyle! Although Covid is restraining travel (the major hurdle is having to be quarantined on coming back to your country like in the UK), reducing visitor numbers and property acquisitions, it is also prompting lifestyle changes that could benefit ski resorts once the pandemic has ended. One trend is looking for nature and the wilderness after being locked in for weeks on end… And of course, ski resorts offer this in profusion, with huge open spaces and clean air. The appeal of mountain living or holidaying, in winter and summer (summer in the Alps is increasing exponentially with our clients), is likely to continue after the pandemic and draw a new customer base. The appeal of mountain living or holidaying is likely to continue. The pandemic has also accelerated working from home (even the French have a word now: télétravail) and we expect this to continue even when there the vaccines finally arrive. Working from home, once you have a good Internet connection, can be done anywhere, including while staying in your Méribel apartment. People may choose to take fewer but more prolonged visits to make the most of this, which would be a reversal of the trend for weekend trips. Despite the most dramatic economic downturn forecast since the last war, ski property prices in the most expensive prime resorts have increased, demonstrating the sustained demand for quality and prime real estate in the mountain. Positive signs in national alpine markets While the property markets in ski resorts have their own drivers, it’s important to consider the economy and property prices at a national level. Analysis of the economic situation in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland shows Austria is forecast to see the least severe economic downturn following Covid-19. According to Oxford Economics, Austrian GDP is expected to fall -4.1% in 2020 compared to -8.6% in France. However, over the next five years, France is forecast to see the strongest growth (27.1%), followed by Austria (24.6%). Figures for Switzerland are -6.4% and 18.3% respectively, while for Italy they are -8.4% and 19.3% respectively. Housing markets during the pandemic have been remarkably robust and many countries have seen prices rise as government incentives and low-interest rates continue to make the residential property look attractive. There are some short-term threats, given concerns that the full economic impact of the pandemic has yet to be felt. However, the long-term fundamentals look stable. Skier numbers on the rise The number of ski visitors around the world increased during the 2018/19 season for the third successive year. Globally, numbers exceeded 350 million for the first time in more than a decade. The most significant increase was China (14.1%) but there were also rises in Russia (10.0%), the Czech Republic (6.6%) and Sweden (5.0%). The Alps, the largest ski area by far, saw an average increase of 0.6%. The number of ski visitors around the world increased during the 2018/19 season for the third successive year. The 2019/20 season halted in mid- March, while 2020/21 visitor numbers will depend on resort closures and travel restrictions. However, historic figures show that demand for skiing is increasing. More cash poured into ski infrastructures Despite the pandemic, 117 lifts are due to open in the 2020/2021 season. Almost one-third are in the Alps, increasing the region’s total by 0.9%. Elsewhere, there are new openings in the Rockies (14 lifts), Pacific Coast Ranges (8), Appalachians (10), Scandinavian Mountains (5) and Pyrenees (4).