St. Moritz, Gstaad, Kitzbühel and Davos/Klosters rank among the most exclusive ski destinations in Europe. As well as being the host venues for major sporting events, they are also highly desirable real estate markets. Acquiring luxury homes in these prestigious locations is an attractive investment prospect for many buyers. In addition to being a stable investment, they are also interested in the immaterial return it offers in the form of private usage. Due to the high demand for premium property, Engel & Völkers forecasts price rises for the most part in these exclusive winter destinations.
St. Moritz: Highest-priced homes located on the Suvretta-Hang
The absolute top location in St. Moritz is the Suvretta-Hang. Mansions here with interiors spanning over 300 metres and offering ample privacy are particularly sought after. Properties of this calibre sold in the first three quarters of 2017 for top prices of up to 70 million Swiss francs (approx. 60.1 million euros). Freehold apartments on the Suvretta-Hang sold for up to 35,000 Swiss francs per square metre (approx. 30,000 euros) during the same period. High-profile and wealthy buyers are also drawn to exclusive houses and apartments in central locations such as the Via Tinus and Via Brattas, or overlooking Lake St. Moritz. There are restrictions imposed on the acquisition of residential property by international buyers in some Swiss holiday resorts. St. Moritz takes a special position here. The municipality has voted to override the so-called “Lex Koller” legislation for 2017 and 2018. This means that foreign clients are entitled to buy second homes with a maximum gross interior of up to 250 square metres without any restrictions. The ratio of international buyers in St. Moritz in the premium segment is currently approx. 40 percent. The majority of this buyer group are from Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The property market in St. Moritz is currently undergoing a generational change. Increasing numbers of older homeowners are now selling their holiday properties, meaning that now is a good opportunity to invest in a second home in the resort. “In the next five to seven years, we are anticipating a limited number of available properties in the segment for second apartments, due to the “Lex Weber” regulation,” said Barbara Jost-Derksen, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers in St. Moritz. This law stipulates that municipalities may not, in most cases, have more than 20 percent second apartments, and restricts the construction of new apartments. According to Engel & Völkers, property prices at prime addresses in St. Moritz will remain stable at a high level in the future.
Gstaad: Only very few top properties come onto the market
Another sought-after and internationally renowned winter destination is Gstaad. Property buyers are drawn in particular by the authentic Alpine charm that can still be felt in the resort. The number of available property sales is far exceeded by the current level of demand, especially in the top price segment. Many homes remain under family ownership and therefore rarely come onto the market. The limited building land exacerbates this excess demand still further. There are currently a very small number of attractive new developments in the centre of Gstaad and in Saanen. The most exclusive residential location in Gstaad is Oberbort. Freehold apartments with an interior of 200 square metres or more and prestigious chalets are sought here. In the first three quarters of 2017, outstanding chalets changed owners for sale prices of up to 40 million Swiss francs (approx. 34.4 million euros). Freehold apartments fetched prices per square metre of up to 70,000 Swiss francs (approx. 60,100 euros). Other desirable prime locations are Wispile and Gstaad Zentrum. Many different buyer groups are active in the centre of the resort in particular. In addition to single buyers, young couples, families with children, and investors, international prospective buyers are also looking for freehold apartments in this location. In Gstaad there are restrictions on foreign clients acquiring real estate. Nevertheless, around 60 percent of property buyers are based outside Switzerland – predominantly in Europe, followed by the Arab world. “We expect to see a slight rise in prices in the premium segment over the next five years,” said Niclas Baumer, Office Manager at Engel & Völkers in Gstaad.
Kitzbühel: Surrounding villages profiting from the excess demand
Like Gstaad, Kitzbühel is currently a sellers’ market as the demand exceeds supply by far. Even the increasing number of new building developments in recent years has not been able to meet the level of buyer interest in the Austrian holiday resort. “Vacant land plots have become rare, so building contractors will find it hard in future to bring new projects onto the market,” said Wolfgang Böhm, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers in Kitzbühel. In the first three quarters of 2017, property prices in Kitzbühel’s luxury segment increased over the previous year. The limited availability of homes for sale meant that exceptional properties reached top prices of up to 30 million euros. Prices for freehold apartments also rose. First-class apartments in prime locations sold for as much as 20,000 euros per square metre. The most desirable address in Kitzbühel remains the Sonnberg. Other areas such as the Bichlalm, Lebenberg, Steuerberg and the centre of Kitzbühel are also highly sought after. Buyer groups include entrepreneurs looking for a work-life balance, high-profile personalities, and families. They are looking for contemporary Alpine residences with spa facilities, townhouses, and freehold apartments with high-end amenities. Interested buyers are looking here for a peaceful setting, mountain views, evening sunshine and a ski-in/ski-out option. Large garages are also becoming ever more popular. International buyers are particularly active on Kitzbühel’s real estate market. Only EU citizens are permitted to purchase real estate in Tirol, so interest from clients in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK is especially high. National buyers on the other hand often come from the greater Vienna region. Due to the excess demand, Engel & Völkers in Kitzbühel anticipates further price rises for residential properties in the future. Surrounding villages such as Aurach, Kirchberg, Reith and Ellmau also benefit from growing demand resulting from a shortage of properties coming onto the market.
Davos/Klosters: national buyers dominate the market
As well as being the highest town in the Alps, Davos together with Klosters also forms one of the most desirable ski regions in Switzerland. International buyers are limited in their property investments due to the “Lex Koller” legislation. Subsequently, around 90% of the market is dominated by Swiss nationals. Most of them have their first home along the right-hand banks of Lake Zurich, the so-called Gold Coast. Like in St. Moritz, the local property market is currently feeling the effects of a generational change. Older homeowners are selling and many existing properties are coming onto the market as a result. “At the top end of the market in particular we are currently seeing an increased demand,” said Jan Christmann, Managing Partner of Engel & Völkers in Davos. The absolute prime locations in Davos are the neighbourhoods Börtji and Palüda. Sale prices here for chalets in the first three quarters of 2017 reached up to 6 million Swiss francs (approx. 5.2 million euros). The top price per square metre for freehold apartments during the same period was 16,000 Swiss francs (approx. 13,700 euros). Holiday homes in these quarters are sought-after among families with grown-up children. They are looking to reside in chalets or large apartments and penthouses in particular, with an interior between 150 and 300 square metres. Buyers are particularly interested in proximity to the ski slope, ample sunshine, and superb views. Other desirable prime locations include Dischma, Bünda, Horlauben and the Promenade, as well as the Obere Strasse in the centre of Davos. As a result of the “Lex Weber” regulation, second apartment developments are not permitted in Davos. A slight rise in prices in the premium segment can therefore be expected in the medium term.