Swiss Franc good for business in the Austrian Alps

The Central Bank of Switzerland recently ended its 3-year plan to cap exchange rate gains of the Swiss Franc versus the Euro resulting in an almost instant switch of customer demand from Swiss property and Swiss ski resorts in favour of Austrian destinations, for both Austrian property buyers and holidaymakers.

In the run-up to 15 January 2015, the SNB had pegged the Swiss currency to adhere to patterns in Euro behaviour but after several falls in the Euro, the Bank lifted the enforced exchange rate and allowed investors to pile in sending the currency up by as much as 30%.

The move has created a sizeable impact on the Swiss ski industry and overseas ski property investors looking for their dream alpine ski property.

Many buyers have been put off by the dramatic rise in property prices and are finding much better deals in markets like Austria which has always offered better value for money than the French or Swiss Alp resorts (grounds costs are lower and rental yields higher).

Moreover, the traditional Austrian atmosphere is another factor cited even by French and Swiss visitors to Austria thanks to many of the original local families still running their hotels and Gasthofs offering a level of personal service and hospitality seldom found in other European resorts.

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Snowy view in Galtür today – the Türtschers will manage the Silva Peak Residences on behalf of owners.

A few other reasons for UK customers to choose Austria over France:

  • 73% of Austrians speak English versus 39% of French;
  • Average restaurant price in Austria – 40€ versus 50€ in France;
  • The average price of a beer in Austria – 4€ versus 8€ in France;
  • 1 minute of mobile phone usage costs 0.07€ in Austria versus 0.24€ in France.

2020 Kühtai Apartments Now Available to Investors

Venture Plus AG and Kristall Spaces are proud to announce a stunning new build of holiday apartments in Kühtai, Austria’s highest ski resort. This is a unique opportunity to invest in ski property in one of the most snow-sure resorts in Austria.

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Austria’s highest resort

At 2020 metres above sea-level, Kühtai nestles among the peaks and mountain lakes above the Ötztal valley — yet it’s only 35 minutes from Innsbruck airport. With snow on the higher pistes for most of the year, the resort has invested heavily in tourism, including a planned installation of a 100MB WiFi system, and it was voted by ADAC as Europe’s best value for money ski destination, as well as winning the SkipassIndex for 2013/2014.

2020 Apartments

The new 2020 apartments (named after Kühtai’s altitude) are being designed by one of Austria’s leading architects, with construction due to start in April. Designed for the luxury market, they’ll be ski-in, ski-out properties located centrally in Kühtai, with current prices ranging from €286,000 for a two-bedroom ground floor unit to €641,500 for a large, three-bedroom penthouse apartment.

All the apartments will be luxuriously fitted out, with traditional furnishings and underfloor heating beneath the Swiss parquet floors. Kitchen and bathroom fittings will be by designers such as Hans Grohe, Miele and Siematic, while they’ll be completely up to date with smart TVs and wireless LAN. Triple-glazed, floor-to-ceiling windows will allow you a perfect vista of Kühtai’s breath-taking scenery.

A unique investment opportunity

It isn’t often that this kind of opportunity becomes available in one of Austria’s top resorts. The authorities keep very strict control over holiday homes, and Venture Plus AG and Kristall Spaces have carefully acquired permission for a new build in such a premier location.

Kühtai’s winter sports season starts earlier than most other resorts and lasts a long way into the year.  There’s no shortage of snow at 2020 metres!  Whilst the summer offers visitors the chance to enjoy the breathtaking Alpine scenery with a range of activities suited to all ages, so there’s demand for holiday apartments all year round. Kristall Spaces will not only manage the apartments, but also arrange rentals through renowned tour operators.

With VAT rebates available on the properties and strong annual capital growth rates, they not only guarantee a good return on investment through rentals, but are also almost certain to appreciate in value.

You can reserve an apartment by putting down a deposit, but several have been sold already, and the rest are likely to follow quickly. Check out the details for a wonderful investment opportunity!  Download Brochure.

Your Chance to Invest in Premium Austrian Ski Property

The Austrian authorities are careful about granting permits to build ski property in their top resorts, and demand is high when there is an opportunity. But Kristall Spaces has achieved a rare coup by obtaining permits to build in several resorts, including Saalbach, Galtür/Ischgl and Kühtai.

New luxury apartments

These two and three bedroom luxury apartments are brand-new builds, and Kristall Spaces is offering them as excellent chances for investment, since the scarcity caused by planning restrictions ensures that capital growth is high. Our new units are always heavily subscribed even before we start building, and it’s unheard of for any to remain to be sold by the time the project is complete. There are few better investments — with the current exchange rate, even holding sterling is less attractive to UK investors.

Top properties in top Austrian resorts

The resorts earmarked for the new developments are among the most attractive in Austria, chosen for guaranteed long winter sports seasons, together with wonderful golf courses and great opportunities for walking and alpine sports in summer. We offer properties that are central with private parking, and many with ski-in, ski-out locations.

  • Kühtai — only 35 minutes from Innsbruck airport, we offer ski-in, ski-out apartments in this beautiful, high-altitude resort.
  • Galtür — quite apart from the family-friendly skiing in a beautiful, tranquil setting, it’s only 10 minutes on a free bus to the more glamorous Ischgl, from where you can ski over the border into Switzerland.
  • Saalbach — just an hour from Salzburg airport, our properties in Saalbach offer ski-in, ski-out in winter and excellent golf courses in summer, guaranteeing a 5-year rental return of 5%.

A great investment

Our properties in these resorts are built, designed and furnished to exacting standards, each with at least two bedrooms, a large bathroom and a balcony. Kristall Spaces makes all the arrangements through the best tour operators for year-round rental, and the facilities on offer ensure the apartments will be in high demand both summer and winter. And, as if the opportunities weren’t enough, you can even claim a VAT rebate on your property.

Kristall Spaces will soon be announcing new projects in other Austrian resorts. For now, though, you can check out more about our apartments, priced from €280,000 to €334,500, in Kühtai, Galtür/Ischgl and Saalbach.

Winter Arrives Early in Western Austria

romania-cars-burie_1574361iThe west of Austria woke on Thursday 23rd October to find that winter had arrived overnight, with torrential rain in low-lying areas, heavy snow higher up and disruption throughout Salzburg, Tirol, Vorarlberg, Upper Austria and Styria. Although the weather had been forecast, it seemed that few had prepared, and many motorists were caught with summer tyres still on their cars.

Flooding and avalanches

Both Salzburg and Upper Austria were hit by flooding, and the fire departments had their work cut out pumping out cellars, garages and underpasses.According to reports, 200 firefighters were deployed in Bad Ischgl alone, and 260 in Salzburg.

The mountains, of course, were hit by snowfall rather than rain, and many trees were brought down in Salzburg, Tirol and Voralberg, blocking mountain roads and passes and cutting off many communities. Snow was particularly heavy between 800 and 1100 metres, causing risks of avalanches, but it was also falling heavily at a lower level in Voralberg, particularly the Arlberg area, the Bregenz Forest, the Great Walsertal and Kleinwalsertal. Silvretta measured 80 cm of snowfall.

Road and rail chaos

snow1ap_2105069iMain roads were disrupted, too, including the Tauern motorway (A10) and the Faschinastrasse (L88). Quite apart from the snow itself, vehicles trying to get through with summer tyres became stuck, causing further blockages. The approaches to both the Tauern and Katschberg Tunnels were closed all morning before the jams could be cleared.

The railway line over the Arlberg in Tirol was blocked by fallen trees, and 300 metres of overhead lines were brought down between Bludenz and Landeck. The weather also caused power failures in Tirol, with up to 4300 homes without power at one stage.

 

A boost for winter sports

It wasn’t all gloom, though. In Styria, the snowfall brought the perfect start to the winter season in Ramsau am Dachstein and Schladming Planai. Many winter sports enthusiasts, including the Austrian biathlon and cross-country ski teams, took advantage of the thick virgin snow to start their training. By the time the season opened on the Planai on Saturday, a metre had been added to the snow.

Thursday morning was chaos in western Austria, but by the end of the day things were getting back to normal. With the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) forecasting more settled weather to follow, Austria can make the transition to winter in a more ordered fashion.

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Austria and France: Which Has the Best Alpine Ski Resorts? Infographic

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So you want a European skiing holiday — which country is the best choice? Switzerland is expensive, while Italy’s winter sports industry is a little less developed than its Alpine neighbours. So we’re left with Austria (especially the Tirol) and France (especially Savoie). How do they compare?

Access from the airports

Starting with how easy it is to get to the resorts and comparing those accessed from Innsbruck and from Geneva, Austria scores an immediate advantage. None of the major Savoie resorts is less than a two-hour journey, with many nearly three hours. By contrast, the furthest from Innsbruck is Kitzbühel at an hour and 15 minutes, while Kühtai is a mere 35 minutes away.

Resort height & length of season

Savoie has the edge on height, with Val Thorens at 2300m the highest in either region, though in Austria Hochgurgl and Kühtai are almost as high. However, the Tirolean resorts generally have longer seasons, with Hintertux open all year round. In fact, skiing is possible at some even out of season. Sölden is officially closed during June, July and August, but the powder snow on the glacier is often good enough for skiing in July. Skiing under blue summer skies can be an amazing experience.

Glaciers & ski lifts

Austria and France each have eight resorts with ski lifts over 3000m. However, in only two of the French resorts (Les Deux Alpes and Tignes) do these take you onto a glacier, while all but one of the Austrian resorts have glaciers.

Snow Parks

The ski slopes aren’t the only draw of Alpine resorts. Visitors wishing to enjoy the fresh air and breathtaking scenery of the mountains have 83 snow parks to choose from in Austria, compared with only 50 in France. The top five voted snow parks in the world are all in North America, but these are followed by Mayrhofen and Nordpark, both in the Tirol, with the top 10 completed by parks in New Zealand, Italy and Switzerland. None of the French snow parks figure at all.

Olympic Sports

Most Winter Olympic sports are available in both countries, though France doesn’t offer either ski-jumping or curling. Austria in general has a far more illustrious history in the Winter Olympics, having won almost twice as many medals as France. Certainly, as far as ski teams are concerned, the Austrians’ main rivalry is with the Swiss — the French team isn’t considered a big threat.

Prices

In general, most things are cheaper in Austria than in France, from mobile phone rates to a Big Mac. This is certainly true for the price of beer, with the far superior Austrian beers, such as Stiegl and Starkenberger, costing half the price. They tend not to give you hangovers, either — as long as you stay off the schnapps.

Add to this that 73% of Austrians speak English, compared with only 39% of French, and it’s clear that, while France scores in one or two respects, Austria offers a far better experience overall. Whether you’re just looking for a the holiday of a lifetime or for ski property for sale in Austria, the Tirolean resorts like Sölden and Kühtai are clearly the best in the Alps.

Cross-Country Skiing in Austria

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It’s hardly surprising that most people who come to the Austrian Alps in winter head straight for the slopes with their skis or snowboard. Hurtling downhill is certainly the most thrilling and fulfilling of all winter sports, but those who like variety might want to try some of the other options on offer, such as cross-country (or Nordic) skiing.

Cross-country skiing is often overlooked, but it has a lot to commend it. A more measured discipline, it combines endurance training and sustained exposure to the clear mountain air with a chance to appreciate the stunning Alpine scenery at high levels. As an added bonus, you can ski across country even when there’s not enough snow for the slopes.

Cross-country trails can be accessed from most resorts, usually with transport available to and from the start and finish, if necessary. Here is a small selection.

Sölden

Sölden has five varied trails of between 1 and 7 km, two rated as easy and the others as intermediate. The routes across Alpine meadows and through picturesque hamlets give great views of the stunning Őtztal scenery. You’ll also find access easy to longer trails of up to 50 km.

St Anton

St Anton has been building up its cross-country network and now has over 40 km of local trails, with individual routes ranging between 1.5 and 22 km. Most are rated as easy, with the St Christoph and Verwall trails as intermediate. The resort also offers floodlit cross-country skiing on a 2 km route between dawn and 8.30 am.

Ischgl

Eight trails wind through the beautiful Tyrolean mountainscapes around Ischgl, ranging from 1 to 18 km and rising as high as 2036 metres. All abilities are catered for, with everything from easy routes to some that are much more demanding.

A_big_1tann_wi_106_langlaufenTirolZell am See

The mountains around Zell am See and Kaprun have 55 km of cross-country trails, some at high levels, catering for all abilities. A special offer here is the chance to ski the 6 km of the Tauern SPA Loipe at night, enjoying the snowscapes under starlight.

On all these routes, you can just turn up and ski them at your own time and pace, but most resorts will offer training courses in cross-country skiing. Some also offer taster sessions for the biathlon (skiing and shooting), whether you want to approach the discipline seriously or just enjoy being James Bond for the day.

You’ll want to spend most of your holiday on the slopes, of course. But perhaps it would be worth taking at least one day off to experience the pleasure of skiing across country.

Why Should I Invest in Austrian Ski Property?

kristall-spaces-austrian-property-zell-am-see-1024x677Investment in Austrian ski property has never been such a great deal. With a strong winter and summer tourism industry, rental yields are high and reliable, and ski property averages a 4% per annum capital growth.

In addition to the annual 1% VAT rebate, recent changes in Austria’s coalition government, especially the appointment of Hans Jörg Schelling as finance minister, look set to favour property investment with tax breaks and other incentives.

Austrian banks have shown considerable interest in foreign investment in property over the past year, and now they’re regularly offering finance of up to 55% for such investments. Their position has been strengthened by last month’s cut in interest rates by the European Central Bank, along with an energetic stimulus programme.

Are there any disadvantages?

One law does appear to go against the trend and discourage investment in buy-to-let holiday apartments. This is a recent court ruling which specifies that an apartment can only be let as a holiday home if all other residents in the building give written agreement. If even one objects, you may not be able to let.

This law hasn’t been properly tested, but it does make random investment in holiday apartments risky. On the other hand, the risk doesn’t apply to purpose-built buy-to-let ski apartments, since all units in the building will be specifically sold with the purpose of holiday rental. The answer is simply to make sure you’re investing in the right kind of property.

As with all investments, it’s important to ensure you choose the right scheme. If you invest your money wisely, though, this offers one more route to benefit from the growing market of Austrian ski property.

Top 5 Events in Saalbach This Winter

As if the magnificent skiing weren’t a good enough reason to head for Saalbach’s slopes this winter, there are plenty of major events to enjoy. Here are just a few of them.

Snow Mobile

For a thrilling spectacle of speed over the snow, the Snow Mobile Grand Prix at Saalbach is a must-see event. Two dozen teams race for the championship title over an 850 metre track in front of a capacity crowd of 20,000, and there are concerts and outdoor parties when the races aren’t on.

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Rave on Snow

You can enjoy the excitement of the most sophisticated city nightclub out on Saalbach’s ski slopes. Rave on Snow is the biggest outdoor winter music festival anywhere, with seventy DJs playing electronica, house and rave music from some of the best music producers in the world. The party carries on all night.

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Torch Run

There may be no Winter Olympics this year, but you can still welcome the New Year in classical style. The Torch Run is an iconic part of the Saalbach winter, and you can join the crowds just before midnight to watch the torch go past. A firework display welcomes the New Year as the run finishes.

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Ski World Cup

In February, the Ski World Cup comes to Saalbach. You can watch the world’s top skiers tackle the downhill and SuperG events, aiming to rack up points for the ultimate accolade of World Cup Champion. For the 21st and 22nd February, the eyes of the entire winter sports world will be on Saalbach.

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AMS Ski Championship

Skiing, snowboarding and cross-country all feature in the AMS Ski Championship in Saalbach for four days during the last week of March. The top professionals in each discipline will be competing for substantial prizes, and there’ll be spectacular opening ceremonies to enjoy, as well as live music. This is a great way to wrap up a season that’s packed with quality, even by Saalbach’s high standards.

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European Central Bank reduces rate of interest making Austrian property investment all the more attractive

In an effort to keep low inflation from derailing the Eurozone’s economy, the European Central Bank has surprised financial markets this September with a cut in interest rates and new stimulus plans.

Speaking at a press conference after the announcement of the rate cut, ECB president Mario Draghi said the Bank expected to see “a prolonged period of low inflation” and reiterated a pledge to keep rates low for the foreseeable future.  After the rate cut was announced, the Euro fell against the Dollar and Sterling making a purchase of property in Europe even more attractive.

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The European Central Bank cut interest rates and announced a program to pump money into the economy and stimulate lending by buying bundles of bank loans.

It may not be a coincidence that we have seen a change in stance in the last 12 months by Austrian banks which have shown a high interest in financing up to 60% of the purchase price of ski property investments by foreign buyers.

If a potential investor is shrewd, they could secure a property now with Kristall Spaces at Spring 2014 prices with only a 1% fully-refundable reservation fee (no buyer’s commission fee) with the first 15% stage payment not due before the spring of 2015.

Furthermore, we have seen an apartment bought for €300k in our recently completed project in Zell am See be remarketed for €350k within 12 months and the buyer only paid 60% of the price before making the decision to sell.

That equates to a €50k uplift on a €180k capital investment in just 12 months.

Please get in contact with us today and find out how you could earn up to 15% IRR on one of our Austrian ski properties.

Mitterlehner has taken leadership of Austria’s OVP and Hans Jörg Schelling has become the finance minister, but what does this mean for real estate investment in Austria?

MitterlehnerIn the past few days, there’s been a major shake-up in Austria’s ruling coalition between the conservative OVP and the Social Democrats. The OVP’s leader and Finance Minister, Michael Spindelegger, resigned on the 26th August and was replaced at once as party leader by Reinhold Mitterlehner. On 1st September, Hans Jörg Schelling was announced as the new Finance Minister.

Spindelegger had been at loggerheads with both the Social Democrats and much of his own party over his fiscal inflexibility and his opposition to tax cuts. Schelling, however, has extensive experience in business, ranging from furniture to banking, as well as having served as chairman of public service organisations. He’s an excellent negotiator, and can be expected to show far more sympathy than his predecessor to cuts in Austria’s dangerously high tax level.

So what can Austria hope for from this change? For a start, by healing the OVP’s internal divisions, it should make them a stronger force within the coalition. Turning away from Spindelegger’s fiscal dogmatism will mean the government’s financial policy can be more business friendly. Schelling is highly likely to introduce a stimulus package that includes a reduction in income tax.

Dr Hans Joerg SchellingThis can only be good for investment, with both Austrian and foreign investors far more confident about taking risks. A stable economy creates the ideal environment for property investment, in particular. The kind of reforms the country can look forward to with Schelling in charge of finance will both encourage investment and will mean the average Austrian has a higher disposable income.

Inevitably, there’s going to be a rush to invest in holiday property in the mountains. Even during the recession this has been a good deal, but greater confidence in the economy will increase demand. Anyone with the resolve to get in before this will do very well.

The prospects for the Austrian economy look excellent for the coming years, and a strong Austrian economy can only be good for owners of holiday real estate. There’ll rarely be a better time to invest.