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Supporting the Patrouille des Glaciers

The Patrouille des Glaciers is a gruelling ski mountaineering race between Zermatt and Verbier. Teams of 3 compete to traverse 53km and climb 4000m, it’s a tough race that some claim to be the hardest team event in the world. It’s huge in Switzerland and gets a lot of coverage. The fastest time is just under 6hrs, but this is superhuman, most teams are happy to finish within the 16hrs cut off. The event I supported saw half the teams fail. Due to its popularity the PDG is now held twice in the same week. Nowadays there are always a few British teams that compete, the most famous of which included Pippa Middelton in 2016.  This meant the race was featured in all the major newspapers in the UK. The best article was written by one of the team for the Telegraph, though if you want to see Pippa from every angle the Daily Mail is the place to go.  But for a less showbiz write-up and probably the best pictures then have a look at Ben Tibbetts blog.

 

Supporting the Patrouille des Glaciers

This article is not about the race itself. I’ve written it to help anyone that wants to offer support for a team at the halfway point in Arolla. The organisers do provide water, Coke, tea and chocolate apparently there are some oranges towards the end so support is not strictly necessary. But many people appreciate something a bit more personal and also the possibility to sort out any equipment issues (forgotten suncream?). I had received conflicting reports about how easy it was to access Arolla on the night of the race. The local tourist office had said I could not. However others thought that I could, so I set the satnav and aimed to arrive at 1am. This would mean I could grab a few hours kip in the car and be ready by the piste at 5am.

Driving up from Sion on ever narrowing roads that night I immediately felt the presence of the race. I had managed to get myself sandwiched in a convoy of Swiss Military logistics trucks!  After you pass Evolene the road is very rough, narrow and precipitous, there are even some sections of single-track tunnels. Thankfully these were rendered safer by military personnel stationed at either end. If the weather is good there will be little to worry about. Otherwise don’t forget that Arolla is at 2000m altitude. If any snow is forecast make sure you and your vehicle are properly equipped! On arriving at Arolla much of the town will be occupied by military vehicles and logistics equipment. The Swiss military must treat this event as one of their major logistical exercises. Thousands of them are involved. Near Arolla they had set up a helipad, refuelling facilities and even a field hospital.

Despite this civilian supporters are welcomed. They had provided parking, toilets and had plenty of people on hand to advise. Once the parking is full then the sides of the road are used.  I parked about 15min walk from the checkpoint, and walked the full distance a couple of times but also used the military transport vehicles that were shuttling up and down the road.

 

Arolla checkpoint

The Arolla checkpoint is 28km into the course, the competitors will have climbed 2000m. In theory it is almost halfway, in practice the second half of the race will be harder thanks to the effect of the sun and fatigue. There is mandatory time cut off at 06h30 here and as you can imagine there will be no negotiating with the organisers! The competitors choose when to start the race the night before, so anytime from 22h to 02h in the morning. You should be able to do a basic calculation to estimate what time your team(s) will arrive. There is also the PDG App available on Google and Itunes, this will give you real time data for the location of each team. There is a good phone signal at Arolla too. However the App seems to struggle from time to time so it can’t be relied on.

Finding your team

This will be much easier if it has been discussed beforehand. It’s not easy though, there will be 1,200 competitors that squeeze past in a 3 hr period, more than half of them will have people offering support. Add darkness into the mix and the fact supporters are not allowed onto the course and some thought is required. The support was fairly tightly packed along the fence. Take a look at what I have marked on the enclosed plan. To help my teams find me I had elected to bring along a multicoloured flashing led strip. I was the only one to have done that, everyone else had flashing bike lights and orange warning lights. There were also flags, banners, balloons, tables and even a BBQ. You can imagine what the competitors are faced with!

 

Most of the teams that stop for help spend at least 15min sorting themselves out. Then they are off up an icy piste. Every half hour they end up mixed in with 500 or so setting off in waves on the “A” race start; something which is probably worth avoiding. Once 6h30 is reached everything calms down significantly. I caught a lift back up to my car in one of the military transporters and set off home. Again no grief on the road at all. If you want to drive around to the finish in Verbier, you will have plenty of time. It’s a 2 hr drive and for most teams you will have at least 6 hrs in hand!

 

 

Col du Corbier, montagne douce

The Col du Corbier is situated on the pass between the Morzine and Chatel valleys. If you are planning to drive between the two passing over the col is the quickest route, despite what many visitors think the col is kept open throughout the winter. Apart from the fact it is the quickest route between these two busy valleys it has to be kept open because there is loads of accommodation on the col itself, about 750 apartments/chalets with 4,000 beds. It is an old ski resort that used to go by the name of Drouzin le Mont, it has a rather tortuous history.

Probably the best place to get the background is from Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Col_du_Corbier This English version is not bad

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Col_du_Corbier but the French version is better.

Montagne Douce.

Since the ski area ceased operation the local commune of Le Biot has made huge efforts to support the community and maintain a life on the col. They have overseen the dismantling of the ski lifts, something that is often overlooked. In addition they have constructed a large restaurant and bar that is the current focus of all the activities. I’ve been there a few times recently and can attest to its popularity! Unsurprisingly because of the history the property prices have fallen considerably which has increased the interest in the area, despite this there are still plenty of activities to do and the skiing is not far away.

# St Jean d’Aulps (Espace Roc d’Enfer)- 18min
# La Chapelle d’Abondance – 22min
# Morzine – 26 min
# Chatel – 30 min
# Avoriaz (Ardent) –  30 min

You don’t even need a car in the holidays. There is a bus that runs 4 times a day to and from the Espace Roc d’Enfer.

I had read about the various activities that are being promoted at the col so decided to go up to look. It was on a freezing cold grey day and I was amazed by what I saw. Plenty of people having a great time, all for free. A great opportunity in the holidays.

Activities

# Electric powered Fat biking, guided and with bikes provided.
# Snowshoeing, guided by the well known local guide Michel Robin.
# Ski-joering and pony riding organised by Samuel et Catherine Bailly from the Ranch in St Jean d’Aulps.
# AND…Archery, blow pipe target shooting! Sledging and some food.

These activities don’t run everyday so you’ll have to keep an eye on the “animations” page of the Vallée d’Aulps Tourist Office https://www.valleedaulps.com/animations.html or their Facebook page.

I rode as far as Drouzin on the pisted track

The commune is still grooming one of the tracks after each snowfall, it is not too steep and suitable for a fatbike trip or an easy ski randonnee that will give access to the old pistes. A great introduction to the sport. I’ve included a map here of the groomed track track. You should call the Mairie if you need to check if it is open (04 50 72 12 06)

The Mairie has mentioned developing the activities in the summer and possibly putting in an “espace loisirs” by the lake. Watch this space.

Our property that is gaining all the attention is Chalet Snowy, 3 bedrooms, 237,000€, click on the picture for more information.

 

 

Why borrow in France?

 Why borrow in France?

By Nathalie Hilton @ International Private Finance,
London based French mortgage broker

 

Mitigate the volatile exchange rate and reduce sterling cost

The Sterling cost of purchasing a property in France is only fixed when you actually transfer your GBPs into Euros.

Part financing your purchase with Euros will allow you to delay this transfer until the exchange rate has recovered in your favour.

This has proven a popular strategy with cash rich buyers since Brexit, the subsequent fall of the Sterling and the very volatile evolution of the exchange rate.

You basically match the currency exposure of the asset you are buying (the French property) and the funds you are using to finance the purchase (Euros borrowed from the bank rather than Sterling savings you have).

Once the exchange rate moves in your favour, you are in a position to repay all or part of the French mortgage thereby not only reducing the debt against the property, but also the sterling cost of purchasing your second home in France.

A large majority of mortgages in France feature no or very low early redemption penalties, so it is important you select the most adequate product from the outset through an experienced broker.

Secure finance on the French property rather than your main residence

A large majority of second home buyers feel more comfortable to raise finance on the new French property as opposed to taking new or additional liability on their main residence at home.

When you borrow in France, the lenders will always take a first rank charge of the French property; this will be registered against the asset by the notaire who looks after the conveyancing process.

Borrowing in France means access to high Loan to Values and longer fixed terms

French mortgage rates are very close to historic lows, and long term fixed rate mortgages are very popular in the domestic French market.

At the time of writing, you can typically borrow for 20 years at rates as little as 1.40% (with a 20% side investment) or 2.15% (with no side investment), and you have the reassurance that your monthly repayments will never increase.

Loan to values (LTVs) for non-resident buyers are also very high in France and depending on your circumstances, you can typically borrow up to 85-90% of the purchase price net of agents or notaires’ fees. This is however only available on a repayment basis.

Some of the banks will also offer interest only options or “in-fine” as it is called in France, though they have much stricter criteria and it is more difficult to qualify for this type of loans. The best LTVs available on interest only tend to be around 70-75% of the net purchase price.

Create a debt on the French property, as mortgage interest can currently be offset against some of the French taxes

In a number of cases, it is possible to offset the interest of your French mortgage against tax on the rental income that you may generate with the French property.
For purchases of €1,300,000 and over, the French Wealth tax becomes applicable on the net value of the property, as per the rates below.

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This is one of the reasons why many investors choose to take out a mortgage on those more expensive properties.

We always recommend that you take independent advice from an accountant about tax implications for any property purchase in France.

To discuss the above in further details, contact Enquiries@internationalprivatefinance.com

 

Rainy day activities in the Alps

The weather in the French Alps is generally good. When compared to many other mountain ranges in the world you can expect less rain in the French Alps! It can be miserable though and when a rainy period hits your week’s holiday thinking of things to do can be a challenge. I’ve lived in the Portes du Soleil for 18 years, run a holiday business for 10 of them and brought up 3 children for 15 of them. So far this week the Haute Savoie has received a months worth of rain. And now there is snow falling at 2000m!

Here are my ideas for wet weather activities.

Canyoning

You are going to get soaked anyway, and whatever the weather you will need to wear a wet suit, if for no other reason than it offers a bit of protection from the knocks that you will inevitably get! Wearing a wet suit on a hot day can be a bit much so take advantage of the weather and go canyoning in the rain! It’s quite an expensive option (55€ for an adult) but well worth it.

Rafting

Ditto the comments on Canyoning. A less expensive option at 38€ for an adult. Once you have tried rafting your can always go back for Hydrospeed.

Ice-Skating

Chamonix, Morzine and Megève all have Olympic sized covered ice-rinks (Patinoire in French), the children will love it, for you it might bring back some bad memories!

Swimming pool

There are plenty of open air pools across the Alps. On a rainy day they are still open but will be deserted. If you want to swim some lengths a rainy day is the perfect time to do this. If this sounds a bit too hardy then almost all of the alpine resorts now have covered swimming pools too.

Cinema

Most of the main alpine towns have cinemas. Cinéma Vox in Chamonix, Cinéma Rex in Morzine, Cinéma Le Criou in Samoens, Rochebrune in Megève, Ciné Mont-Blanc in Sallanches, Le Danay in La Clusaz and Le Choucas in Les Carroz, to name most but not all of them. Allocine is the website that tell you what is on and when. I know that the cinema in Morzine puts on an extra matinée show when it’s raining.

The Mechanical Music Museum in Les Gets

It’s a bit of a standing joke in our family, and admittedly we have only been once. Despite this it should not be missed! The Musée de la Musique Mécanique is open in the afternoon almost all the year. It has 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor 2/16 for things to do in Les Gets (the first is skiing).

Gorges du Pont du Diable, Vallée d’Aulps

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Haute Savoie. A guided walk in a deep, narrow limestone gorge. Long opening hours, and a long season. The Gorges du Pont du Diable doesn’t cost the earth either (22€ for a family of 4), it is accessible from Morzine, Les Gets and St Jean d’Aulps via the Balad’aulps bus. It’s dark and damp in the gorge so a bit of rain makes no difference. There is a café and a geology visit by the parking too.

The following activities will require a car.

Olympic Museum in Lausanne

You can either drive around Lac Léman or take a ferry (good fun but not cheap), to visit this suburb museum, don’t take my word for it, it is #1/87 things to do in Lausanne on Trip Advisor. It’s also quite good value which is hard to find in Switzerland at the moment. Just 40CHF for a family ticket. More information is on this link.

Chillon Castle

Again, this gets a top rating on Trip Advisor. At the eastern end of Lac Léman, the Château de Chillon is a really hands on exploration of a fairy tail castle. Perfectly preserved thanks to the fact it has never been attacked! They do a great value family ticket for 29 CHF.

 

Salt Mines at Bex

This is only open in the height of the summer, it’s an underground visit so the weather conditions are not important! Not too expensive either. There is more information on their website. Sel des Alpes.

Thermal Spas

The French Alps are full of thermal springs that have been turned into thermal spas and swimming areas. They all have inside and outside pools but considering these pools are often at the temperature of your bath it does not matter what the weather is like.  I’ve been to Les Bains de Val-d’Illiez  and Lavey les Bains‘ as they have big pool complexes with them. I’ve never been to the spars in Evian-les-Bains, Thonon Les Bains or St Gervais-les-Bains, but the clue is in their names.

Go for a walk or bike ride

It’s always hard heading out into the rain but you know you’ll enjoy it afterwards. Stay low though, heading up the lifts or onto the mountain tops doesn’t make much sense. Keep it short too.  Use some tactics. It rarely rains all day. Use the alpine weather forecast and rain radar to pick the best time of day to go outside. When I worked as a walking and biking guide we had a plan on a rainy day. We would only ever manage half a day in the rain. So if it is raining in the morning, chill out until later in the day, then go for a ride in the rain, or if you are lucky it will have stopped which will be a bonus! There is nothing worse than going out in the morning, giving up at lunch and then watching the sun come out in the afternoon! If you want an objective then search out a waterfall to look at, they look their best in the rain, there are plenty and they are generally marked on the maps.

Board games

You never have an afternoon spare to play board games with your family at home, so revel in the opportunity whilst sheltering in your cabin on holiday. Reach for the Monopoly or Scrabble and make the most of the “down time” forced upon you. Nice and cheap too!

Temperature of Lake Geneva

The temperature of Lake Geneva (in French “le lac Léman”) reaches it peak during a heatwave like the one we are experiencing at the moment. In the right spot it will be 24C at “swimming depth”, if you tread water or dive down a metre or 2 then you’ll find the temperature of the water dips considerably. In fact if you dive down below 40m the temperature hovers around 5C for the entire year!

I’m quite keen on following the temperature from afar, it means I can plan my lake swims to coincide with the best conditions. I’ve written about my last swim across lac leman on this blog in 2015.

The Lausanne University website has recently been updated and it shows some very interesting effects. I had no idea how much the temperature varies across the lake surface, especially towards the outflow in Geneva. There are even currents and eddies created by the shape of the lake and the flow from West to East.

The daily variations in temperature are most easily seen at the Buchillon measuring station.

The Meteolakes website also has the following cross-sections.

Lake Geneva facts

#Lake Geneva is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, 3rd after some massive lakes in the Netherlands (IJsselmeer, Markermeer).
#Surface area: 580.03 km2
#Max depth 310m
#Time from a drop of water entering upstream to leaving downstream in this lake: 11 years!
#60% Swiss, 40% French
#14km at it’s widest point and 73km at the longest.
#Apparently in the 70’s is suffered from pollution. That problem is now solved. It is clean and safe to swim in throughout now.  Which considering the fact it is surrounded by large cities is incredible. More info on the water quality down the Swiss end here. And a newspaper article on the fact that all the beaches are safe to swim from, 86% are rated “excellent or very good” for water quality.

There are other resources for the surrounding lakes, this one for the temperature of Lake Annecy and the temperatures of various lakes along the Alpine chain.

New Ski Lift News in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil

Back in April 2009 I first wrote about the proposed lift linking Morzine to Prodains (and then Avoriaz)…AKA “l’Express Morzine-Avoriaz”. It was part of a clutch of integrated projects the Mairie was proposing. The Department’s application for the Winter Olympics failed and it was suggested the l’Express Morzine-Avoriaz would fall by the wayside with that.

In that earlier blog I listed the projects.

1. The current Prodains lift is due to be replaced, it is old, inefficient and some say it is condemned thanks to the fact it sits (just) within a rockfall zone. NOW DONE.

2. The whole of the Prodains area need redeveloping, it was too busy for the current infrastructure. SOME OF THIS WAS DONE AS PART OF #1.

3. The county (Haute Savoie) has just won the opportunity to bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. WE LOST OUT TO PYEONGCHANG..it’s next year!

4. Avoriaz is just starting a fairly major expansion and remodelling. We have some of the new apartments for sale. NOW DONE.

However despite this the Morzine to Prodains project continued to chug along. In 2013 they produced a video presentation.

 

There have been various local objections but the Mairie and most everyone else I speak to is still behind it, last month a question and answer article appeared in one of the local papers.

http://www.lemessager.fr/chablais/a-morzine-la-creation-d-un-telepherique

In short the article says.

1 . The Express Morzine-Avoriaz will form part of a massive redevelopment on the parking area between the Post Office and the Rue du Bourg. This will include a new bus station, parking and social housing.

2 . The link will cut down on the 320 bus movements and speed up getting from Morzine to Avoriaz. It’s planned for 2020/21 and is projected to cost €50 million.

3 . The operating company for Avoriaz will pay for it.

4 . There are plans to extend Avoriaz beyond what was done in 2010, another 2,000 beds, thanks to Club Med and Pierre et Vacances.

So it is obviously still on the cards. Locally the Mairie is pushing the environmental and the business case. Both these arguments hold a lot of water with the local Regional government. In addition the Mayor is making the point that Morzine is in fact a business. Last year’s poor snow season is helping further this argument. For a skier staying in Morzine the quicker they can get to Avoriaz the better!

In other news.

The Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil reports 107 million CHF of planned investment over the next 10 years. More information here.

https://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/forums/Les Portes du Soleil pg 58

Les Gets Mairie has approved almost €9m of work for their area. The bulk of which is the replacement of the main Ranfolly chair.

https://www.remontees-mecaniques.net/forums/Les Portes du Soleil pg 54

The liaison from St Jean d’Aulps to Les Gets is still being discussed in the face of considerable environmental opposition.

http://www.lemessager.fr/chablais/liaison-les-gets-saint-jean-d-aulps-necessite-ou-heresie

 

 

 

E-bikes in the Alps

E-bikes (Electric Bikes!) are big news in the Alps. In fact they are big news across the bike industry. For a start it is a growing sector and industry always craves growth. The latest figures I can find from bike-eu.com make it look like 23% of the 325,000 bikes sold last year in Switzerland were e-bikes, bringing the total number of e-bikes in the country to 400,000. It seems that these e-bike sales are in addition to the regular bike sales.

I’ve been a two-wheel fanatic since my youth and I find this pretty logical. E-bikes are democratising cycling, making it available to all, not just the fit. That is especially the case in the mountains. I’ve just spent 6 days cycling across the Alps to Nice and kept thinking that with an e-bike this trip would be open to everyone who is willing to ride a bike. Unsurprisingly I saw plenty of people doing just that, the IGN map I had was adapted for e-bikes too.

The Portes du Soleil is working hard to promote e-bikes, they have been for a few years, 20+ shops have them for rent, most of the information you need including a map is on this webpage

http://en.portesdusoleil.com/summer/electric-mtb.html

And this year an e-bike festival.

http://www.morzine-avoriaz.com/agenda-bikelec-salon-international-du-velo-electrique.html

My usual advice stands in this area. Unless you are a confident bike rider heading off the road onto the trails comes with some dangers. I recommend hiring a guide to start with. For the intepid I have highlighted some of the easier trails in the Portes du Soleil area here:

http://blog.alpine-property.com/2016/05/24/family-friendly-mountain-biking-morzine/ 

Each year the Portes du Soleil hosts a huge MTB event called the “Pass’Portes du Soleil” I’ve always taken the opportunity to have a free go on the Lapierre e-bikes that are available for demonstration. This year for the first time there is an e-Pass’Portes route. In fact they have taken one of my favourite routes and added in a couple of lifts for good measure. It’ll be a great day out if you get a chance!

Some people don’t see the point of e-bikes, here is my take on the pro’s and cons.

Pro’s

  1. They mean you can MTB in the mountains without lifts, so out of season, late in the evening or out of the area. That can save you 27€ a day on a lift pass!
  2. They can bring a disparate group of abilities together. The fit ones won’t have to wait for 20 min at the top of the climb….and then announce they are ready to go 10 seconds after the less fit have arrived!
  3. As above for couples that want to ride together. They no longer have to use a tandem!
  4. Biking is a wonderful sport that some people shy away from because of lack of fitness. The e-bike can solve the problem.

Con’s

  1. E-bikes are expensive
  2. They are heavy
  3. E-bikes are almost a motor vehicle…and with that in mind could cause issues with other users of our wild spaces.
  4. Once you have ridden one, getting back on a normal bike seems like hard work!
  5. They are a rapidly changing technology, next year’s e-bike will be better and cheaper than this year’s!*

* I have hired a bike each year for the last few years and each time I have thought…they are “nearly” there. This year I used a 2017 bike and I think the manufactures have nailed it. Beyond the weight of the bike (which you don’t notice when riding) and the range (I rode 30km and ascended 700m), I could not think how it could be improved.

*I have just seen that Bosch (one of the main manufacturers of e-bike motors) is adding ABS…http://www.bikeradar.com/road/news/article/e-bike-abs-braking-50226/ …it looks like you can always make something better!

 

Route des Grandes Alpes

Route des Grandes Alpes

700km, 16,000m of ascent, 42hrs of riding

You can choose to do it over any time period that suits. We did it in a week. I know of others that have done it in half that time. Most people take along a vehicle as support, we self supported our trip and stayed in hotels and b&b’s, a small minority carry camping kit!

The official website is here.

http://www.moveyouralps.com/fr/route-des-grandes-alpes/itineraire

The map you need is here

https://ignrando.fr/boutique/route-des-grandes-alpes.html

If you can use a map then stick with that, we only made one minor error over the 700km. If you aren’t good with maps then load the route onto a GPS.

Our route started from home in St Jean d’Aulps, though normally you’d start 25km down the hill in Thonon Les Bains.

My tips…

#Don’t start with such a big day like we did.
#Consider a rest day.
#If a 47km climb (Col d’Iseran) or 35km (Col du Galibier) isn’t your thing then you can split these days in Val d’Isere and Valloire respectively. Most guided groups do this, most purists will want to climb these without an overnight rest!

Day 1, St Jean d’Aulps to Beaufort
121km 3,036m, 7h30
Col de la Colombiere, Aravis and Saises
https://www.strava.com/activities/1026867342
Day 2, Beaufort to Lanslevillard
123km 3,440m, 8h46
Cormet de Roselend, Iseran
https://www.strava.com/activities/1028482032
Day 3, Lanslevillard to Briancon
113km, 2,153m, 6h19
Telegraphe and Galibier
https://www.strava.com/activities/1029738653
Day 4, Briancon to Jausiers
Col d’Izoard, Vars
94km, 2,255m, 6h
https://www.strava.com/activities/1031659585
Day 5, Jausiers to Valdeblore
90km, 5h26, 2,016m
Col de la Bonette
https://www.strava.com/activities/1033081333
Day 6, Valdeblore to Nice via Menton
Col St Martin, Turini, Castillon, Eze
116km, 6h25, 2,307m
https://www.strava.com/activities/1034522066
Day 7, 8hrs on the train back to Thonon and then a ride back up to St Jean d’Aulps
25km, 1h, 424m
https://www.strava.com/activities/1036609383

 

The Alpine Property Market June 2017

I’ve been asked a number of times recently about the current state of the property market in the Alps. Periodically I write my thoughts down on the subject as a reference and this blog is as good as place as any to carry on with that.

If you need to save time…just read this….the current market feels like a good balance between buyers and sellers. The French are buoyant but new British enquiries are hesitant. Long term British searchers are making the most of the good supply of properties and thanks to this we are agreeing a plenty of sales.

Some history…..I’ve been in this business now since the year 2000. Since then I saw a steady rise in interest in ski properties in the Haute Savoie until we hit the top of the market in 2006/7. It felt like a bit of a bubble back then and with the benefit of hindsight it was! The Banking Crisis hit at the end of 2008 which brought everything to a grinding halt for 6 months, a slow recovery followed until 2015 which was boom time again. Brexit hit in June 2016 and the market has been taking stock since. It’s not been like 2009 by any means but the interest has certainly ebbed and flowed somewhat over the last year.

In brief:

  • The French are buoyant. In general they are genuinely pleased with how the Presidential election went and they are positive about the parliamentary elections this Sunday. The feeling is that the country will get behind Macron and “En Marche!” to give him control of the Parliament. He has various reforms planned to boost the economy which all bode well for us. We shall see! All this optimism has led to an up turn in contacts in French. For reference we generally work 50/50 Franco/Anglo, at the moment that’s more like 60/40 to the French.
  • New Anglophone enquiries are flat compared to 2016 and down on 2015. This is normal in the run up to an election. The vote is tomorrow and (IMO) the result is too uncertain to call.  The pundits seem to hand it to the Conservatives. If the Conservatives win that will probably stabilise things. Otherwise it is “wait and see”.
  • BUT, Anglo clients seem to be securing deals at the moment. We’ve signed a record number of offers over the last couple of weeks. These are with people that started their search some time ago.
  • The Spring is traditionally the time when we get a surge of new instructions. This Spring is no different. We’ve put one new property on the website everyday for the last few weeks. Some of them have gone under offer already. Click here for a list of our latest new properties.
  • New building projects are flying up all over the Haute Savoie. Keep in mind that these projects take 18 months or so to get off the ground so this is a result of the boom market of 2015.
  • Overall I would say that the market is more buoyant under €500,000, normal up to €1m and then the €1m+ buyers seem to have gone a bit quiet.
  • The £/€ exchange rate is always one of the most important factors. It seemed to have stabilised around 1.17 but recently due to the uncertainty in the outcome of the election has slipped to 1.15.  For reference you can see that here. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/market_data/currency/11/13/twelve_month.stm

My thoughts in 2014

St Gervais market report

2013

Alpine Property market report

2011

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/french-property-market-2010/

2010

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/property_market_alps_france/

late 2009

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/state-of-the-market/

early 2009

https://alpschaletforsale.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/spring-alpine-property-market-review/

Currency fluctuations and selling your French property.

Buying or selling property is not supposed to be a gambling game. It’s bad enough having to deal with the vagaries of the property market in your own country. It’s worse when buying or selling across currencies. For someone based in the UK who is thinking about buying or selling a property in France, the Sterling to Euro exchange rate is yet another unknown to include in the equation.

Currency brokers can help smooth out some of these issues. At the outset they can be considered as a way to save money over the exchange rate your bank might offer. They can also help by hedging against currency fluctuations.

In this scenario I am thinking about a seller with 350,000€ to repatriate from their French property. For whatever reason they have decided to sell up in France and take the money back to the UK. It’s not their fault that Brexit has caused the currency market to go haywire. But it can work in their favour. The weaker the pound is, the more their property is worth in £ sterling.

Take a look at the graph below. Our fictional sellers accepted an offer on their property in November when the exchange rate was 1.12. They would end up with £312,500 back in the UK.  But in fact it took a few months for the sale to conclude at which point the exchange rate is 1.18. This equates to only £296,600, a net loss of almost £16,000 and all because of a fluctuating exchange rate.

A currency broker could help in this situation. If a broker is approached at the time the offer is accepted they would take a 10% deposit to secure the current rate. If the sale falls through between this point and anytime up to 2 years in the future the money can be sold back to the market. There would be no penalty as long as this happened at or above the rate that had been secured.  That’s what happens in the scenario above. However if the rate drops below 1.12 then the seller would have to compensate the broker for the difference. On the bright side, in that situation the property would have a paper value in pounds £ of even more than it started with!

 

euro graph

We’ve worked with the same brokers for over ten years. Let us know if you’d like us to contact you to discuss this.