Alpine ownership with cash back

IF you’re not ready to throw down the cash to secure full access to your very own chalet in one of Europe’s finest resorts, you may want to consider one of the rising numbers of rental pool, or “leaseback” arrangements on offer.

VIP Ski (vip-chalets.com), the luxury chalet operators with chalets in Switzerland and France, has kicked off the season by announcing a portfolio of freehold 1,950m piste-side property in La Plagne, France. You buy a chalet and get two weeks access to it per ski season (more in summer), with each property fully catered and equipped when you arrive. The rest of the time it is rented out. The lease lasts nine years, during which time owners can expect a gross annual yield of 3-4.6 per cent. Then you can either renew on the same basis or you can part ways with VIP Ski.

Other companies offering luxe leaseback options include Erna Low (ernalow.co.uk), whose sales manager, Francois Marchand, describes his main buyers as “company directors, in their 40s, with two kids” (sound familiar?). “It’s a very interesting way to invest,” says Marchand. “You’re buying bricks and mortar in a lovely location with guaranteed income from a commercial lease. You know exactly how much you’re going to get every year, unlike with buy-to-let property in the UK.”

The Hideaways Club (thehideawaysclub. com), Rocksure (rocksurerentals.com), Rocksresort in Laax, Switzerland (rockresort.com) and Ferme de Montagnes in France (fermedemontagne.com) also offer their own version of the rental pool model of investment for hotel-style apartments.

But is this format too good to be true? Not necessarily. Jeremy Rollason, of Savills Alpine Homes, says: “It suits buyers in the mid-market who want help financing their purchase. But equally there are top-flight buyers who want all the services and luxuries without spending millions, along with some extra income.”

So where to look? Rollason favours France because, post-crisis, prices have dropped 30 per cent in some resorts. But with easier borrowing throughout alpine Europe, “it’s a good time to be looking anywhere in the Alps from a buyers point of view,” says Rollason.

MER DE GLACE, NENDAZ, SWITZERLAND
Price: CHF620,000 (£459,000)-CHF1.35m (£766,000)

A vibrant development in the Four Valleys, connected to Verbier, with completion in 2012. Freehold for sale. The apartment in the spa building will be on a 15 year leaseback scheme where yields are estimated at a net 2.25 per cent after all charges. There are other residential blocks where apartments can be purchased without the leaseback scheme.
Savills Alpine Homes, www.alpinehomesintl.com

LUGANO SUITE, LA PLAGNE, FRANCE
Price: €1.75m

Four-bed ski-in ski-out chalet with the very best furnishing. Comes with VIP Ski service, subject to yearly service charge of €934. Net yield is 3 per cent per year.
VIP Ski, www.vip-chalets.com

L’AIGLE BLEU, BRIANCON, FRANCE
Price: €147,418 to €374,078

10 fully furnished, well-managed apartments in 2,400m UNESCO World Heritage town. Good access to key cable car. Access two weeks per season. erna lowproperty.co.uk