Tax Breaks and Financial Benefits of Investing in Austrian Ski Resorts

Tax-BreaksThe traditional target for property investment in Austria, Switzerland and Germany has always been student accommodation or buy-to-let residential units. High prices, high management costs and recent tax changes have made this market less attractive, and Austrian investors are showing interest in a different target — ski holiday properties.

In recent years, planning restrictions have created a backlog of building projects in ski resorts, with the result that those which are built attract high demand and strong capital growth. And, at the same time, foreign investment in Austria has never been easier.

So what has happened in Austria to create this boom?

  • Recent governmental changes promise financial stability. In particular, the new finance minister, Hans Jörg Schelling, is likely to favour policies such as tax breaks for investors.
  • The European Central Bank has recently reduced the headline rate of interest, keeping the Euro Libor low.
  • The government is offering a savings loophole with a 1% per annum VAT rebate.
  • A court recently ruled that Austrian property could be bought by an SPV owned by non-EU citizens, which opens up the possibility of a future flight to safety.
  • In the past year, Austrian banks have changed their stance and are showing considerable interest in financing foreign buyers.
  • Austria’s bank secrecy act is stronger than Switzerland’s, giving investors peace of mind.

In spite of this, the price in Val d’Isère, on the other hand, the bottom end of the market for a similar unit would be around €380,000, while most are over €800,000. Switzerland is even more expensive, with few 2-bedroom apartments in Zermatt below €500,000, and Davos even more expensive. Prices of Austrian ski properties are still remarkably low. A 2-bedroom apartment in Sölden, for instance, can currently be bought for as little as €334,995, and similar apartments in Ischgl go as low as €323,400. This rises to only a little over €600,000 for penthouse apartments.

Austrian resorts can match or exceed these for quality, and investors have a unique opportunity to snap up valuable property at such low prices. It won’t be long before everyone else wakes up to this and the prices rise, offering a substantial return on your investment.

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.

Five Unmissable Events in Austria This Winter

FIS Ski World Cup Opening

From the 24th to the 26th October, the Rettenbach Glacier above the resort of Sölden hosts the opening event of the FSI Ski World Cup, the Giant Slalom. Featuring the world’s top skiers, including reigning world champion Ted Ligety, the runs will be held in the Rettenbach’s state-of-the-art stadium. In between, there’ll be a full programme of processions, presentations and parties for everyone, both on the glacier and down in Sölden.

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Opening, 25. - 26.10.2014, RETTENBACH GLACIER.

Top of the Mountain Opening Concert with James Blunt

On Saturday 29th November, the annual Top of the Mountain opening concert welcomes singer-songwriter James Blunt. The free gigs marking the start and finish of the season at Ischgl have traditionally attracted stars such as Elton John, Robbie Williams and Mariah Carey, to be enjoyed by the winter sports enthusiasts who flock to the resort. This year Blunt, who is himself an enthusiastic skier, is including the date in his Moon Landing tour.

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International Hot Air Balloon Week

The “balloon village” of Filzmoos, in the shadow of the mighty mountain Bischofsmütze, is hosting the 36th International BP-Gas Balloon Trophy from the 10th to the 17th January. About forty balloon teams from all over the world will be taking part, flying over the high ranges and picturesque valleys of the district. In addition to the more formal races, the Sunday features a musical display of glowing, colourful balloons, while Wednesday is dedicated to the children.

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Valartis Bank Snow Polo World Cup

The 15th to the 18th January sees snow polo come to Kitzbühel for the 13th Valartis Bank Snow Polo World Cup. A modern variant of polo, this is an exciting, skilful game played across level, compacted snow, and its premier event sees top players and high society gather in the Tyrol in January. Matches are played on the Münichauer Wieser, with the striking Kitzbühler Horn in the background.

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International Hahnenkamm Race

From the 21st to the 25th January, Kitzbühel in Tyrol hosts the Hahnenkamm Race, a series of skiing races held since 1931 and for decades forming part of the World Cup. The event consists of the Super-G, the Slalom, and the Downhill on the Streif, widely considered the most demanding course on the World Cup circuit, including the 80m Mausefalle (mousetrap) jump near the top. The event will feature breathtaking speed and skills from the world’s top skiers.

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The Perfect Spring Attraction – ALPINARIUM GALTÜR

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Alpinarium Galtur is much more than just a museum! It is the perfect place to visit this spring, and summer. While it is called a museum, visitors may be surprised to learn the Alpinarium Galtur also offers visitors the chance to dine in its panorama café, an opportunity to experience their climbing wall, and more!

Alpinarium Galtür is simply put, a versatile, adventure-filled museum that has been given the museum seal of approval. When a museum is given the ‘museum seal of approval, it means that it must “assume the responsibility of preserving cultural heritage, and a visitor can expect high-quality exhibits and a high-level of service provisions.“ (as stated in the guidelines of the ICOM Austria and the Austrian Museums Association). And Alpinarium Galtur does all of this, and so much more!

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The museum is aesthetically pleasing, with its natural settings and its one of a kind barrier wall. Inside, you will find a contemporary design that is very artistic. There are a number of permanent exhibits inside, such as ‘The Wall’ and ‘The fascination of snow; the legend of the avalanche’.

As mentioned before, visitors must check out the panorama in the “Frozen Water” café. The café offers visitors the chance to sit on the sun terrace whilst taking in the amazing views. Visitors will also love the convenience of the Internet lounge with free WiFi. Additionally, the museum has a number of rotating exhibits that are always changing and a memorial room that remembers the victims of the 23rd February 1999 disaster.

There is plenty to see in Galtur and the Alpinarium is an attraction not to be missed.

Looking to invest in this area? Check out properties for sale in Galtur, you won’t be disappointed!

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Best Austrian Resort for Cross-Border Skiing

For those looking for the best Austrian resort for skiing across borders, then duty-free Samnaun is the place to start.  Being part of one of the biggest ski areas in Austria, the 238km Silvretta Ski Arena, which boasts stunning scenery from mountainous views combined with a magnitude of ski runs. Making this all year-round tourist destination the perfect place to ski!

Samnaun is perfect for intermediate skiers and boarders. It is also linked to Ischgl which offers plenty of runs for intermediate skiers. In fact, it also has a new, very modern lift system and an après-ski scene which rivals that of St. Anton.

Both of these resorts are well integrated and 90 percent of the lift users ski across the border. The scenery is beautiful and most of the runs are based over 2,000m, offering wonderful views from the mountains. The Silvretta Ski Pass also takes visitors skiing in Galtur, Kappl and See.

Visitors can take what is known as the ‘duty-free run’, which leads down to Samnaun. It is great for elegant carving but is not as great for boarders, because it has a number of flat sections. Additionally, here skiers will find the Zeblas Waterfalls–but the less experienced skiers may want to bypass the falls as they can be quite tricky to pass.

The run is called the ‘duty-free run’ because Samnaun is the only duty-free area in Switzerland, so visitors will want to take note!
To rejoin the main ski area in Ischgl, take the

Double Decker Gondola

(this double decker gondola was the first one of its kind in the world!). From here, visitors can visit popular, and not too difficult, Alp Trida area. The runs from here back to Ischgl are all red and advised to be tackled by a more seasoned skier.

Finally, lunch on the border! Visitors will want to head to Paznauner Taya, A-6561 Ischgl. Simply ski down from the Palinkopf into Austria, and that is where the Paznauner Taya is found, right by the bottom station of the Hollspitzbahn. Everyone will enjoy taking a long lunch in this popular, lively area– and enjoy the people watching before hitting the slopes again!

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The snow settles in Ischgl for Easter

A blast of icy, wet air travelled up and over the central Alps in the last week of March, proving that winter still has plenty of potential to breathe new life into the Austrian ski slopes. With some resorts reporting over 100 centimetres of snowfall, it’s a perfect time to get out and traverse your favourite slopes all over again. Indeed, many slopes have better runs, softer powder, and superior conditions compared to their status only a few months back. In fact, with less-crowded slopes, it’s even easier to find good ski resorts, ski apartments, and routes without needing to wait on reservations or the next lift.

All across the central Alps, the conditions have been quite favourable. This comes as welcome news for Austrian ski fanatics, who had to endure a disappointing winter for many resorts that struggled to accumulate large quantities of snow. But the snow finally came, transforming green and grey mountainsides into white wonderlands. It’s good quality powder snow all over Austria, furthermore: not so wet that it clumps together and makes skiing difficult.

The advent of quality snow may be enough to recoup many of the declining Austrian figures. While British tourists maintained a steady stream into Austria, holding down the number one spot for foreign skiers, Germans numbered fewer the past years than the historical average. New tours and resorts are offering excellent last-minute deals in order to capitalise on the new snowfall, as only three percent of UK ski tourists visit Austria during the month or April. One tour operator noted that if this snowfall had taken place two months earlier, there would be no room for travellers, but the courses remain open and in excellent condition.

Everything You Should Know About Ischgl Off The Slopes

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Although this gem of a skiing town on the Pardatschgratbahn ropeways is better known for its runs than anything else, there’s plenty to do once you’ve put up your skis and want to get a bite to eat. Most of the restaurants in town are part of the hotel, though some stand on their own, and the superb cuisine of the city is, along with the ski slopes, an ample incentive to consider purchasing apartments for sale in Ischgl. Perhaps the best-known and highest-rated is the Grillalm within the Gramaser Hotel, offering five course Salnerhof and Jägerhof. Those who want a faster bite can sink their teeth into the pizza and Tirolean appetisers available at Bära Falla and the hamburger joint Allegra. Due to the proximity to the Italian border (less than 20km away), there’s plenty of great cucinas, including the Toscana.

Of the highly-rated restaurants in the town, the Alpenhaus features beautiful design and self-service (as well as table service) with tart pastries considered some of the best in town. Live bands and even disco music are mainstays at Paznauner Thaya, known throughout town for their pizza, chicken salads, and spicy prawns. The Pardatschgrat has a massive, ornate glass-walled interior that often has fewer crowds than the competition. Finally, the Swiss side of Ischgl features the Alp Bella, a restaurant built in the style of traditional ski huts and lodges, featuring classic Austrian and Swiss dishes like rösti.

Once the meal is done, it’s time to go into “après” mode and go out on the town (which can start as early as the afternoon, depending on your ski schedule). The two most popular bars in town, the Trofana Alm and the Schatzi, both feature lively atmosphere and plenty of good drinks. The Schatzi is as well known for their drinks as for the dancing girls who wear only the minimum amount of clothing. Cross the river, and you’ll find the Kitzloch, a rowdier place where you’re more than welcome to dance on the table tops, even if you’re still in ski boots. Those who want a higher-tempo evening can check out Niki’s Stadl and the Feuer and Eis watering holes; a quieter joint is the Kiwi or the higher-price Guxa.

The Newest Attraction In Galtür: Indoor Swimming Pool

Swimming pool in Galtür

There’s plenty of reason to love the ski resort town of Galtür, which rises over the Stausee Lake on the border of Tyrol and Vorariberg. The town sport’s centre, which includes a restaurant, squash courts, a rifle club, and the Silvretta Hall for occasions of note will now expand to include an indoor swimming pool. With the expansion of the sports centre comes a great time for property investment in Galtür Ischgl due to the decision to expand the town’s operations and integrate the community into the events.

Each year, the sports facility needs a significant amount of finances in order to stay afloat due to the number of visitors who make use of the site and the scale of operations. Galtür Mayor Anton Mattle reports that the pool operation will cost between 200,000 and 300,000 Euros to operate each year. Most of this revenue will come from the cable car tickets that skiers purchase in order to get up and down slopes, but the community of Galtür itself will still need to cover the cost of about 50,000 Euro. With the need to build a new lift project and run cable cars, Mattle noted that it would be difficult to find the equity to finance every project.

A City Council meeting in August of 2013 put paid to the plans to expand the sports center. A 100,000 Euro grant was made available for the Department of Village Renewal by the sixty persons sitting on the Citizen’s Council. Some 120 town citizens, including young people invested in the centre, came to the meetings in order to make their voices heard. Finally, the decision was made to expand the centre and to make it more amenable. A 6,000-square meter area will be used for events and activities, with further health projects for the city to be accelerated. In the near future, the Council will appoint an operator to deal with the project and its development in order to complete the pool’s construction.

Robbie Williams concert in Ischgl in May 2014

As part of the 50th anniversary of the Silvretta Cable Car and the 20th anniversary of the big Top of the Mountain Concerts (since Elton John first sang on the Idalp in 1995), Ischgl has booked Robbie Williams to perform on 3 May 2014 at 1300 in a special Top of the Mountain Concert.
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He is planning to play with his Big Band at 2,300m and will perform amongst other tracks his new number-one album “Swings Both Ways” on the giant open-air stage.

Another excuse to enjoy the summer and late spring snow conditions.