Thank franc for bargains in Switzerland

Alpine homes became 10 per cent cheaper overnight when Switzerland pegged its currency
Grimentz, Switzerland (020 7584 3050)
Normally, non-Swiss buyers cannot own a property bigger than 2,150sq ft but restrictions have been lifted at Les Flives in Grimentz (above; 020 7584 3050) where eight four- and five-bedroom chalets are for sale
Eager skiers and would-be snow home owners have an added incentive to buy, now that the Swiss National Bank has pegged the Swiss franc to the euro at a minimum of 1.20.

This effectively weakens the franc and makes Swiss property nearly 10 per cent cheaper overnight for British buyers. It's all very welcome news for people with pounds in their pockets and their eye on the Alps.

Jeremy Rollason, of Savills Alpine Homes, says: "A duplex apartment that cost £630,000 last week now costs £584,000. If you were spending 10 million Swiss francs you would have saved £800,000 in 12 hours."

Top of most buyers' wish lists are snow-sure resorts easily reached from London by budget flight, train or car, with a strong summer season to increase potential rental returns.

In Andermatt, 90 minutes from Zurich, developers Orascom are building a new village with six hotels, 490 apartments in 42 buildings and 25 villas. One- to four-bedroom apartments start from £865,000 for 925sq ft. Normally, non-Swiss buyers cannot own a property bigger than 2,150sq ft, but at Andermatt no restrictions apply.

Restrictions have also been lifted at Les Flives in the flower-filled 15th-century village of Grimentz. The ski-in, ski-out project's recently released second phase has eight handsome freehold four- and five-bedroom chalets from £1.74 million, through Cluttons Resorts.

And in Saas Fee, a resale chalet is now closer to £720,000 than £792,350 thanks to the new exchange rate. The three-bedroom chalet, with Investors in Property, produces a net rental income of £25,000 a year.

Bad Gastein, Austria
From £105,920: studio to three-bedroom flats in Bad Gastein, Austria. Call Savills on 020 7016 3740

Value-busting Austria

Family-friendly Austria has average property prices below France or Switzerland, low borrowing costs and strong rental yields. So although it can't compete with the towering peaks of France, it's a favourite for value.

"We're seeing more enquiries for Austria than anywhere else in the Alps, especially among high-net worth clients," says Jessica Delaney of Alpine Marketing.

In the Tyrol, Austria's most popular holiday destination, Alpine Marketing is selling Little Tyrolean Chalets, a development of 12 log-cabins 20 minutes from super-expensive Kitzbühel. The three- to five-bedroom chalets of 538sq ft to 861sq ft are priced from £154,800 to £283,000, including the furniture.

In Salzburgerland, newly built studio to three-bedroom apartments in the spa town of Bad Gastein cost from £105,920 for 332sq ft. The elegant belle époque town sits in a national park close to a golf course, a casino and one of Austria's largest and most modern spas, Alpentherme.

One- and two-bedroom apartments at Grafenberg in Wagrain, an attractive Alpine town 45 minutes from Salzburg airport, cost £179,130 to £234,860. Properties in both developments, available through Savills, must be rented for part of the year.

£430,000: new flats in Veysonnaz, France (020 8905 5511)
£430,000: new flats in Veysonnaz, France (020 8905 5511)

Skiing heaven in France

Last year's lacklustre snowfalls reinforce the importance of heading high, and the purpose-built resorts of France lure buyers looking for convenience and guaranteed powder.

In Trois Vallées, close to ski train station Moûtiers, Erna Low is selling two- and three-bedroom apartments in Val Thorens at 7,545 feet. Hameau du Kashmir starts at £245,557.

In neighbouring Méribel, where Harry Potter star Emma Watson owns a chalet, French developer Terresens has two- to four-bedroom centrally located apartments from £636,910.

Also close to Moûtiers, the little-known village of Valmorel has two new projects. Club Med, the long-established French holiday company, is selling 80 freehold chalet apartments. These two- to four-bedroom homes start at £476,800 for 882sqft, and are available through Savills. The resort will operate a rental programme with a spa, restaurant and children's clubs.

Nearby, the French constructor MGM is selling off-plan apartments at La Grange Aux Fées. These range from £168,070 for a tiny 269sqft studio to £433,450 for a 1,076sq ft four-bedroom duplex.

£670,400: four- and five-bedroom chalets at Les Collons, Verbier (020 8905 5511)
£670,400: four- and five-bedroom chalets at Les Collons, Verbier (020 8905 5511)


* Alpine Marketing (020 8455 0505;
* Savills Alpine Homes (020 7016 3740;
* Erna Low Property (020 7590 1624;
* Andermatt Swiss Alps (020 3010 1110;
* Terresens (
* Cluttons Resorts (020 7584 3050;
* MGM (020 7494 0706;

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