Luxury Swiss chalets lose out to French ones

Luxury chalets in Swiss mountain resorts are dropping in price while those in neighbouring France are rising, according to a report from a German-language business journal.

Luxury Swiss chalets lose out to French ones
Verbier chalets. Photo: Switzerland Tourism

High-end properties in such internationally well known spots as Gstaad, in the canton of Bern, or Davos and St. Moritz in the canton of Graubünden have fallen, says Handelszeitung in a report issued this week.

The journal cites data from British real estate agents Knight Frank showing that prices for upscale chalets in St. Moritz have plunged 7.2 percent from a year ago.

In Crans-Montana in the canton of Valais prices fell 4.5 percent, it says.

Even in Gstaad, known as a magnet for international movers and shakers, prices dipped by two percent, according to the report.

Liam Bailey, of Frank Knight, told the publication the strong Swiss franc was partly responsible for the slump.

Also, an initiative approved by Swiss voters to limit holiday homes to a maximum of 20 percent of residences in municipalities has created uncertainty for foreign investors, Bailey indicated.

In this situation, wealthy clientele appear to prefer France where prices for luxury chalets at top resorts have jumped.

Prices for top chalets in Val d’Isère, the home town to champion skier Jean-Claude Killy in the Savoie region, have jumped six percent, for example.

In Méribel, prices rose 4.5 percent.

Wealthy Russians now favour Courchevel over St. Moritz pushing the French Alpine resort on track to overtake the Swiss resort with holiday homes hitting 30,000 francs per square metre, Handelszeitung said.  

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Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Switzerland is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under CHF 100k.

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe and Switzerland is no exception. As the average salary is high in Switzerland, finding homes for under CHF 1 million in some parts of the country becomes almost impossible.

Even when you do find cheap properties, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. For example, Switzerland’s famous one-franc home scheme had to be scrapped after nobody signed up. The cheap homes were, actually, too expensive when considering the costs for renovation or even how remote they were.

READ ALSO: Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Some of the properties in the scheme weren’t connected to the electricity grid, sewer system or even roads.

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Switzerland – that are still liveable or could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

Not an easy search

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Switzerland (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at CHF 500,000 (while our colleagues in Germany had theirs set at €100k, but, hey, this is Switzerland).

As of August 2022, we found 203 houses and 80 apartments following these criteria on sale.

Most of these definitely need some fixing up, but you can still snatch a home for under CHF 500,000 with lovely views of lakes and mountains or big terraces and gardens.

Going through the addresses with some of the properties, some things stand out:

Head for the border – most of the most affordable places are in Italian-speaking Switzerland. However, you can also find some of them in the French regions. In both cases, they are located very near the border with France or Italy.

Forget about cities – All the properties we found are quite far from the major cities of Zürich, Bern, and Geneva, which makes sense as the cost of living tends to rise in those regions. If you’re looking for a cheap home, you’re highly unlikely to find one in city centres.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Consider property type – It is also worth mentioning that there seemed to be a distinction between the homes in the west and those in the south. In the French region, there are more apartments and newer properties, with some outstanding options.

While in the Italian south, most of the properties are houses – and you need to inspect well because some will need a lot of work.

Research services – You should definitely check carefully the property’s location – some are not connected to basic services or even roads.

Renovation costs – Almost all of the properties we found were ‘renovation projects’. Some can turn out to be very good investments, but it takes time and work to renovate. Before buying, get an estimate of the likely works so you can see whether the property really will save you money in the long term, and be honest about your level of DIY/building skills and how much work you are willing or able to do.

Extra costs – Besides renovating costs, you must be mindful of property taxes and other living costs and how much they are in the region where you are buying property. Prices can vary quite widely depending on the canton, so research well.

You can check all our Property in Switzerland stories here.