Water has a particular allure. Research from Hamptons International shows a waterside home — whether by a river, lake or the sea — comes, on average, at a 17 per cent premium. It’s a central part of aspirational living for many people and our research highlights the real value of owning a waterside home,” says the firm’s Neal Wood. Many Swiss and Austrian lakes offer exceptional views, easy access from London and all the benefits of living in the culturally diverse heart of Europe.
Established: Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Property around Lake Geneva saw the largest price increases in Switzerland in the past decade, reflecting limited supply in a city that is home to some 200 international companies. Prices peak in Cologny on the lake’s left bank, where villas reach £20 million and buying rules prevent many non-Swiss people owning homes.
It’s a different story one hour east of Geneva above the lakeside town of Vevey, where apartments at Du Parc Kempinski Private Residences have been selling to buyers from North America, Europe and Asia. This Belle Époque mansion set among the terraced vineyards of the Lavaux wine region has been transformed from a hotel into 24 two- to five-bedroom apartments with fabulous lake views.
These are large apartments of up to 7,530 sq ft with cutting-edge technology. The building is set in a seven-acre garden and has a private cinema, a Givenchy spa and an efficient concierge team. Despite prices from £4 million and annual maintenance fees of £24,400 all 10 apartments in Phase 1 are sold.
Cosmopolitan: Lake Lugano, Switzerland
The benefits of living between two cultures are fabulously apparent in Lugano, the Swiss city on the banks of Lake Lugano. It is safe and efficient with the usual Swiss fiscal advantages yet has all the class and culture of Italy, just 30 minutes’ drive away.
Lugano is Switzerland’s third financial centre and a good alternative to expensive Geneva and Zurich,” says Sam Cleps, of Habitat Real Estate. “It’s small yet international, strikingly beautiful and has a temperate, Mediterranean climate. There are mountains half an hour away, the beaches of Liguria within two hours and Como is 30 minutes away.”
In Castagnola, the Belgravia of Lugano, Cleps is selling four villas and two apartments at Domus Solis on a south-facing plot above the lake. The off-plan properties due for completion in 2014 will have wide terraces, contemporary finishes and private pools. Prices start from £1.9 million, a figure likely to be double for something similar in Geneva, claims Cleps.
Lower down the slopes, a two- bedroom, modern 1,700 sq ft apartment built two years ago is valued at £2.11 million. Like Geneva, Lugano has a severe shortage of good-quality rental properties and this apartment could rent for £4,500 a month.
Affordable: Lake Hallstatt, Austria
Austria’s Lake Hallstatt, situated some 70 minutes away from Salzburg airport, might not be very well-known in the UK but as a Unesco World Heritage Site it has a global following. Even on a wet autumnal day, visitors from the Far East are eagerly photographing the village’s traditional church spire and wooden chalets. Indeed, the Chinese are such fans that they have built a replica of the entire village and lake in Guangdong Province.
The Lakeside Chalets are a group of 72 two- to four-bedroom chalets — more than half are sold — costing from £197,300 for 580 sq ft through Alpine Marketing. Owners have to rent their homes for part of the year and receive a four per cent guaranteed return for five years.
There will be a central clubhouse with a restaurant, pool and spa. There is limited skiing locally and Dachstein West, with 110 miles of slopes, is 20 minutes away while Obertraun village is directly across the lake with a train link to Salzburg.
* Du Parc Kempinski: through Knight Frank (020 7629 8171; knightfrank.com)
* Habitat Real Estate: through Savills (020 7016 3740; savills.com/international)
* Alpine Marketing: (020 8455 0505; alpinemarketing.com)