The vacation apartment market in Switzerland has lagged that of Austria and France in recent years. Residential property prices have stagnated in the Alpine tourist destinations here since 2011. The strong franc has weakened domestic and foreign demand. At the same time, the success of the second home initiative has led to a building boom in the Swiss Alps, so that average vacancy rate has almost doubled in recent years.
St. Moritz the most expensive destination in the Alps
The destination of Engadin/St. Moritz takes first place among the Alpine vacation destinations, with a price level of over 14,000 Swiss francs per square meter, closely followed by Gstaad and Verbier. Outside Switzerland, Courchevel (FR) has prices of over 12,000 francs per square meter, putting it ahead of St. Anton am Arlberg (AT) and Kitzbühel (AT). Square meter prices in excess of 10,000 francs are widespread in the Alpine region, including for example the Jungfrau region, Davos/Klosters, Laax or Lenzerheide. But even in the slightly smaller vacation apartment markets such as Arosa, Scuol or Saas-Fee, prices in excess of 8,000 francs are common. If you want to spend less than 6,000 francs per square meter, you should concentrate your search for a property in niche locations such as Ovronnaz, Disentis or Evolène.
Falling prices in top Swiss locations
The prices in the three most expensive vacation apartment markets in the Alpine region – St. Moritz, Gstaad and Verbier – are lower than in 2012. This is in contrast with the top Alpine destinations of France and Austria, where the prices have still been rising noticeably in recent years. However, price declines in Switzerland have not been restricted to the three luxury locations. The prices fell in all the top destinations of Grisons and Valais (with the exception of Arosa and Zermatt), in some cases quite considerably. The biggest drops in price occurred in Lenzerheide, at almost 10% year on year.
Low vacancy rates in the most expensive destinations
The success of the second home initiative has led to a building boom in the Swiss Alps, such that the average vacancy rate there has almost doubled since 2012 to its current level of 1.9%. But in the 10 most expensive Swiss destinations, the vacancy rates are for the most part considerably lower – only St. Moritz, Verbier and Laax are reporting relatively high vacancies. On the other hand, foreign vacation apartment markets such as Kitzbühel, Megève and Cortina d’Ampezzo are reporting significantly lower occupancy rates.
Further price falls expected
The demand for vacation apartments might well not keep pace with the overall demand for residential property in Switzerland in the coming years. Greater mobility in vacation habits and sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb are lowering demand for the ownership of vacation apartments. And the most important group of potential buyers, the 50–55-year-old age group, will shrink in the next few years. A generation change of vacation properties’ original purchasers is also taking place, raising the availability of apartments on the market.
Market trends also point to more price declines for vacation apartments in the short term. Vacation apartments in Gstaad, Scuol, Saas-Fee, Lenzerheide, Anniviers and Engelberg could hold up relatively well. On the other hand, the market data give little reason for optimism in Davos, Crans-Montana and Zermatt.
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