100cm of fresh snow in 48 hours

After one of the snowiest Januarys on record in the Alps with ski resorts in Tirol seeing 100cm of snow falling in just 48 hours, the outlook for February and the busiest skiing weeks of the year looks excellent.

Thanks to the snow storms of January which left road and rail access to St Anton, Ischgl and Kühtai cut off, there is a superb base in the ski resorts in Tirol.

The Lawinenwarndienst Tirol (Avalanche Warning Service for Tirol) cannot recall snowfall like this since 1999 and despite some blue skies in recent days, temperatures have dropped and there will be more wintry weather to come.

Current snow depth report in key Austrian resorts:

St Anton  140 / 415 cm
Hochoetz  40 / 220 cm
Fieberbrunn  100 / 200 cm
Sölden  20 / 325 cm
Ischgl  100 / 170 cm

Clearing snow in the Ötztal:

Bellevue Best Property Agents 2018

Kristall Spaces has been awarded the Bellevue magazine Best Property Agents 2018 seal of approval.  Only a select group of international real estate agents are awarded this title.

Branson Atterbury, Marketing Director at Kristall Spaces AG commented: “We had a compelling proposition for the Bellevue panel of judges.  We are the developer, agent and operator and thus provide a rare, end-to-end service: construction, marketing in German, Dutch and English, legal and financial advice to buyers and maintenance and a rental service on behalf of owners. Our key personnel are court sworn experts for the Bundesministerium für Justiz in planning, construction, engineering and property consultancy.”

It is this end-to-end proposition that allows us to understand all parts of the value chain and makes us even more effective at advising customers on acquiring their dream lifestyle investment.

Kristall Spaces AG has a current pipeline of developments worth in excess of €100m and an impressive portfolio of projects including:

  • All-Suite Resort Fieberbrunn (Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang / Kitzbühel Alps) All-Suite Resort Karwendel
  • All-Suite Residence Kühtai
  • Silva Peak Residences, Ischgl
  • All-Suite Resort Paznaun, Ischgl
  • All-Suite Resort Ötztal
  • Residenzen Gasthof Zwieselstein, Sölden
  • Mountain Spa Residences, St Anton
  • Mountain Lake Resort, Zell am See
  • Residenz Zwieselstein, Sölden
  • Residenz Sölden

Buying new build property in Austria

Austria is already the first choice for affordable ski properties, higher rental yields and authentic hospitality when compared to France and Switzerland but how does one decide on the type of property to buy: new-build or resale?

Here are some options to consider:

New-build or off-plan property in Austria normally comes with a higher price tag per m² and will further increase in value as soon as you take ownership.  Typically, we see a 4 to 5% annual growth on our ski apartments and this can be higher in some locations in Tirol thanks to scarcity restrictions to avoid the “cold beds” trends found in France and Switzerland.  According to the UBS Alpine Property Focus 2017, St Anton delivers best growth in the Alps at 8.2%.

So, you might have to increase your budget for a new-build but here’s a few reasons why it’s worthwhile.

New developments present an opportunity to buy into the project early increasing your chances of securing one of the best units at the lowest price and improving capital appreciation.  Note that developers can increase their prices year-on-year and as the project gains interest demand starts to rise.

Importantly, smart new build projects are carefully chosen by a developer for their location and access to ski lifts / pistes and restaurants and can command a rental premium over resale properties.

New property buyers aren’t in a chain and there is less reliance on the current owner / vendor which means less chance of the sale falling through.

Buying off-plan offers attractive payment schemes which don’t exist with resale properties: you pay for your apartment in stages.  The trustee will notify you in good time when each stage payment is due so you have time to prepare the transfer of funds – no need to transfer all at once.  This can be particularly advantageous when using a currency service.

There is also flexibility when dealing with the developer over factors such as parking spaces and choice of furniture packs and when there is joint ownership of the operating company for your apartments, it is possible for the developer to guarantee rental returns for a period during the operating agreement e.g. guaranteed 4% return on net purchase price for first 5 years.

When you buy off-plan in Austria, you get a certain amount of control over the interior of the apartment.  There is range of interior themes and styles to choose from and because you are dealing with the developer it is possible to make minor changes to the floor plans in the early stages of the project.

All new properties built in Austria use state-of-the-art, energy efficient methods and materials that you will simply not find in resale buildings.  Greener energy solutions, more efficient heating systems and some of the highest recycling standards in Europe not only reduce your carbon footprint but lower bills.

All Kristall Spaces’ developments use automatic central heating systems with air or water sourced heat pumps.  Energy is also captured from the spa and bathrooms areas to generate warmth in the underfloor heating systems via heat exchangers and our ventilation systems use the same heat recovery principles to pump fresh air into the apartments at the correct room temperature.  All this results in monthly heating cost savings for owners when compared to oil or gas and delivers a greener, more sustainable solution.

New properties in prime Austrian ski resort locations that come with a rental obligation when owners are not staying there themselves are exempt from VAT.  You can save a whopping 20% on the sales price when you opt for one of these apartments.

New properties come with building guarantees.  For example, we negotiate with tradesmen and suppliers for the following:

  • 10 years for the roof covering
  • 5 years for the mechanical systems (heating, electrics, lifts)
  • 5 years for the remaining works including the shell of the building
  • 2 years for electrical goods

Furthermore, Austrian Building Law allows for a 30-year Statute of Limitations for all hidden defects.

Please see our generic FAQ about buying and owning property in Austria or why not Contact us for advice on your Austrian property search.

Kristall Spaces Projects Update – Ski Properties in Tirol Winter 2017/18

Please click the links below for more information on each project.

St Anton – completion date December 2017.  Ready to occupy.  Over 70% sold out.  Award-winning ski-out apartments.   Some of the best views in the valley.  St Anton delivers best growth (8.2%) in UBS Alpine Property Focus 2017.

Kühtai – 2 apartments left. Ready to occupy now. Highest customer satisfaction in Kühtai on Booking.com: 9.6 Exceptional.  Ski in and out.  Highest ski apartments in Austria – 2,020 metres.  35 minutes from Innsbruck airport.

Ötztal – dual season resort. 100 metres to the ski lift. Full pricing and availability. 8% return on capital invested when taking out a 55% mortgage or a guaranteed 4% return on net purchase price for first 5 years.  25 minutes from Innsbruck airport.   Prices from 215.000€.  19 apartments sold.

Sölden – revised pricing post tendering.  Adjacent to family-run Gasthof Zwieselstein.   Guaranteed 4% return for the first 5 years.   Sölden and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl now offer a joint lift pass for 3+ days. 4 apartments left.

Fieberbrunn – 270km of pistes – will soon connect with Zell am See. Prices from 225.000€. Up to 8% return on capital invested when taking out a 55% mortgage or a guaranteed 4% return on net purchase price for first 5 years.  Some of the highest snowfall in Tirol.  Excellent off-piste skiing.  10 apartments reserved.

Ischgl – prices start at 5,000EUR per sq metre.  Full pricing available in April 2018.  Contact us today for a preview of the plans.  Already taking unbinding reservations.

Karwendel – pricing available in April 2018.  Contact us today for plans.  No rental obligation.  One of the most beautiful places you will ever visit.

Kristall Spaces develops and sells ski property in Tirol and now we manage and rent apartments on behalf our owners through our operator business, All-Suite Resorts.

17 January: update on Kristall Spaces projects

The Austrian Alps are nicely covered with snow and as much 229cm in Sölden.  We at Kristall Spaces are busy handling dozens of enquiries each day and managing site visits for prospective EU and non EU based buyers.

We have 4 key projects with pricing & availability

St Anton apartment for sale – construction is underway and one of the buildings containing half the apartments has all the floors in place and the roof on.  It is possible to enter the building with one of our representatives and get a feel for the floor spaces and different views.  Of the 28 upper luxury apartments in this project, 14 are still available.  Voted Best Apartment in Austria & Europe.

Kühtai 2020 Residences – construction was completed last month. There are 5 apartments (out of 17) left but we expect them to sell in the next few months.  There are quite a few buyers who have reserved or are about to reserve in this development, the highest in Austria.  Come and look round one these fully furnished luxury apartments which are ready to occupy now.

Sölden – we will start construction after this ski season. 3 of the 8 apartments have been sold or reserved and there is good interest for the last 5.  It is easy to set up appointments in the Gasthof Zwieselstein where you can meet the developer and the Gstrein family who will manage the rental business of your apartment.

Mountain Lake Resort Ötztal – we have just finalised floor plans and pricing for this exciting dual season location. 100 metres from the ski lift and in a prime location to make the most of the Ötztal’s strong summer season facilities.  State of the art spa and choice of swimming pools for summer. Restaurant and bar on-site.  We already have 7 reservations!

Coming soon – new projects

We will soon release floor plans for Galtür (Ischgl) and Fieberbrunn, so keep your powder dry if you want your own apartment in one of these locations!

Galtür (Ischgl) – floor plans for Mountain Spa Resort Paznaun coming in February 2017.  We will update all our prospects with a newsletter.

Fieberbrunn – floor plans coming in February 2017 also.  Again, all our previous enquiring customers will receive a newsletter.

Karwendel – 28 leisure residences with no rental obligation although we provide a rental service if owners would like to rent their apartments.  Swimming lake & on-site wellness.  On-site brasserie restaurant & bar. 1 hour from Munich & 40 minutes from Mittenwald.

Register your interest 

Contact us today if you are interested in any of these locations and we will keep you updated with progress.

Austria shines in Savills report on Alpine properties

There are some useful data in this year’s Savills report on Alpine properties – here are the out-takes for buyers considering property in Austria.

Austrian ski property prices are 28% below other alpine countries but price growth is higher at 8%.  See the chart below.

austrian-ski-property-growth-savills-spotlight-alpine-property-market-2016-17

With ongoing infrastructure investment and growing international skier participation there is room for upward price movement in Austria.  Other sources (e.g. Tiroler Tagezeitung) recently highlighted a record first half in 2016 of apartment sales in Tirol with an average capital growth of 6.2% for the region.

Reassuring feedback then from separate sources on increasing asset values which will be sustained by careful town planning restrictions on over-development and therefore supply.

Austria is clearly more successful than France and Switzerland in developing its non-skiing attractions and summer tourism business which drives up rental yields, infrastructure investment and future resale values for Austrian property owners.

The report points to a 1.6% year-on-year decline in total ski visits to the top 8 global markets is reported (USA, France, Austria, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and Germany).

Austrian property investors need to be careful and review local tourism figures in isolation.

The Tirol region has delivered a >10% increase in visits in the first 6 months of 2016 clearly bucking the trend of competitor ski markets.

Innsbruck airport is increasing its inbound capacity for German passengers by 180% this year and introducing new routes from British Airways.  The Tirol Tourism board and the ski resorts are again forecasting a year-on-year growth in visitor numbers.

One successful strategy paying off for the Austrians is their focus on the millennial generation (age 20 to 35).  The successful Alpine resorts of the future will be the ones which innovate and draw new visitors with different activities throughout the year.

Examples include Kühtai which boasts Austria’s biggest half pipe and nearby Area 47, one of Europe’s largest extreme sport adventure parks which even has a wakeboard park at 812m above sea level and Mediterranean water temperatures to boot:

Ischgl is one of the biggest ski areas with the longest season continually ploughs lift profits back into its dizzying array of slick infrastructure and glitzy / urban amenities, including 3 Michelin star restaurants.  In Ischgl you can even ‘fly home’ down the valley with or without skis at 85kmh on a dual zip wire – 2km long and 50m high (total investment €2m):

Incredibly, family-friendly Oetz has just reported a 30% increase in lift sales this summer thanks to new investment in family amenities in the Hochoetz ski area.   Astonishingly, Oetz draws 45% of its annual visitors outside the winter season.  Oetz has 80km of its own skiing and tourists can access Sölden in 20 minutes with its 2 glaciers but it has all-year round tourism status – not just in the Summer but through to early Autumn when the Acherkogelbahn makes a brief pause before the Winter season starts again on 16 December.

Hochoetz’s new adventure playground, Widiversum – parents can even leave children in supervised groups and head higher into the mountains for the day:

Currency impact:

In the wake of the UK’s EU referendum and the weakening of sterling, Swiss Alpine property has become 8.6% more costly to GBP buyers (May to Sep 2016), while French or Austrian Alpine homes have become 7.6% more expensive.  Despite the Pound’s fall, there are still some determined UK buyers who want to buy their Austrian property now and get into Austrian Land Registry before Brexit is finalised.

For US Dollar, Euro and Swiss Franc buyers, the picture is unchanged and the customer base is very international including non EU buyers as well as increasing numbers of Germans, Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavians.

Please read our FAQ about buying and owning an Austrian property or Contact us today with any questions.

Buying & owning Austrian property FAQ

ZONING AND OWNERSHIP

What is a “tourist residence” and what restrictions can an owner expect?

When purchasing a property constructed on land zoned for touristic use you are obliged to rent the property within the framework of a tourism enterprise. As a result, you can claim the 20% VAT added to the net purchase price as input tax. The enterprise will be managed by an appointed Rental Operator.

Why do the local authorities zone properties in this way?

The local government invests in infrastructure in the resort such as leisure centres, waste-water treatment plants, snow clearing and mountain rescue, which is financed by usage. Therefore, it is important that owners do not leave their properties empty when not using it.

Does this mean I can’t use my own property?

No. For purposes of attaining optimum usage you are permitted to use your apartment as you wish and according to the operating agreement. The operator will always comply with the wishes of the owner, even in the case of short notice booking requests.

Am I investing in a hotel?

No.  Your freehold, condominium ownership is registered in the Land Registry: you are not purchasing shares in a hotel. Furthermore, you will own a share of the land and common areas of the property, such as technical rooms, ski and boot-room, lifts and corridors.

PURCHASE PROCESS – RESERVATIONS, PAYMENTS, COSTS AND HANDOVER.

I am keen on a particular apartment but worried another buyer could reserve it before I’ve had chance to go through all my queries.  What should I do?

To allow a prospective buyer time to go through all the important questions arising from the review of the agreements, we can reserve a unit for a period of one week with no obligation.

I’ve decided to move forward – how do I proceed?

The first stage is to sign a Purchase Offer (Kaufangebot) which is sent to you by email for signature. A 5% deposit of the net purchase price paid to an escrow account is due upon signing as an ‘Earnest Money Payment’ and this may be refunded if special requirements are not met e.g. a financing offer under market orientated conditions isn’t possible in Austria.

From whom am I purchasing the apartment?  Kristall Spaces?

No,  your Sale and Purchase Agreement is with the development company which owns the land. The Developer has appointed VenturePlus AG and Kristall Spaces AG as experienced development consultants to assist with the delivery of the project.

Can I buy the property through a company?

Yes. Many purchasers use a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). The only requirement is that the SPV acquiring the property has a registered office inside the EU. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for the director or shareholder to be a European citizen.

What if I want to sell?

There are no restrictions on resale – you can sell your property at any time and we would be delighted to assist.

What happens if the Developer selling the apartments has financial problems part way through the development?

Buying property off-plan in Austria is extremely secure. New-build apartments are paid for in stages and all payments are made to a Trustee and held in an Escrow account.  Stage payments are not released to the developer before an independent, court-appointed surveyor has inspected each construction stage and signed off the building progress for the Trustee.  Construction begins only after the financing bank has released funds for the development and the development is fully funded to completion. Furthermore, the development is ‘ring-fenced’ and completely independent of any other commercial activities.

What is the schedule for the stage payments?

  • 15% at start of building works (including the ‘Earnest Payment’ of 5%) due within 14 days of both parties having signed the Sale and Purchase Agreement
  • 35% on completion of the building shell and roof
  • 20% on completion of plumbing and electrical installations
  • 12% on completion of the facade & windows
  • 12% on completion of the property
  • 4% on hand over of keys
  • 2% after the developer provides a bank guarantee to the Trustee to cover any unforeseen defects.

Who drafts the contracts and handles the legal aspects of the purchase – what are the legal fees?

A Trustee lawyer acts on behalf of both parties, the purchaser and the vendor. Occasionally, the purchaser appoints his or her own solicitor for a second opinion – this is not necessary but may provide peace of mind. In this case, the purchaser’s solicitor will liaise directly with the Trustee. The legal fees are 3% of the gross purchase price.

Why are the legal fees higher than a normal property purchase?

The Trustee lawyer has more responsibility and employs more resources over a longer period for an ‘off-plan’ purchase compared to a typical resale transaction. The role of the Trustee is to draft the Sale and Purchase Agreement, Rental Agreement, Contract of Administration, etc. in German and English and prepare all documents required to transfer legal ownership to the Purchaser.  The Trustee is obligated to offer impartial legal advice, collect stage payments and release funds to the Seller in accordance with the contract. The Trustee acts for the Purchaser and the Seller during construction, engages an independent, court-appointed, sworn witness to confirm building progress and concludes all aspects of the conveyance.

When and where do I sign the Sale and Purchase Agreement?

The Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) and all documents required to transfer legal ownership are drafted in German and English and signed by the Purchaser and Seller in the presence of a Notary Public. The Purchaser will receive a copy of the SPA by post and is required to sign before a Notary Public (not a solicitor) in their country of residence.   Once the Purchaser’s signature is witnessed, the Notary Public sends the document to the Foreign Office to be apostilled (with the exception of Germany). Most buyers choose to sign at the Austrian embassy in their home country as they can also provide the apostille, thus speeding up the process.

What are the average purchase costs?

Purchase costs for buying a property in Austria are calculated on the gross purchase price.  The purchaser pays the Trustee fees after the SPA has been signed.  Fees are calculated as follows:

  • Purchase Tax (Stamp Duty) is 3.5% of the gross purchase price and the contract establishment costs
  • Registration in the Land Registry is 1.1% of the gross purchase price
  • Trustee legal fees – 3% of the gross purchase price + VAT (VAT is refunded) 
  • Notary costs to certify the contract signatures
  • Court costs, administration & fiduciary fees approx 750 Euros

When are the incidental acquisition costs to be paid?

  • Purchase Tax (Stamp Duty – 3.5% of the gross purchase price) will be invoiced after signing the purchase contract
  • Registration in the Land Registry (1.1% of the gross purchase price) will be charged as soon as the owner has been entered in the Land Registry
  • Trustee legal fees (3% of the gross purchase price) will be invoiced with the payment of the 5% deposit

Do I pay agency fees?

No, Kristall Spaces does not charge any fees to the buyer.  Buyer’s fees can be as much 3%, so there is an instant saving when you buy through us.  

Do you arrange finance?

Yes, once a Purchase Offer has been signed “subject to finance”.  Austrian banks will fund up to 60% of the purchase price with a loan period between 15 and 25 years. Some banks may charge set-up fees and/or an appraisal fee of 0.5% in addition to a notary a fee of 1.5% for the amount of the mortgage to be registered in land registry. If required, it is possible to add the mortgage related costs to your mortgage.  Variable interest rates are currently 2%.

Austrian mortgage agreements generally need to be signed at the bank in Austria.  Some buyers, therefore, time this to coincide with signing of the Sale and Purchase Agreement.

Why do you not provide a fixed date for completion and handover?

We are obliged to make every effort to complete construction and hand over your apartment on time.  However, we are building in a high-alpine environment at the mercy of the weather with a short construction window of May to November.  Also, we are governed by the local laws, which often restrict construction during the tourism seasons. We offer an estimated date for completion in the contract but no guarantees can be made.   

Parking

Each apartment must be purchased with a minimum of one parking space.

Will WiFi & Sat connections be provided to all parts of the development?

Internet WiFi is available in your apartment.  Sat TV is also available in each living room.

Will there be any separate storage space for owner’s belongings such as ski equipment and clothing?

Yes, a minimum 2m² of storage per apartment is provided and included in the purchase price. Owners must provide their own personal padlock.  

HANDOVER, SNAGGING AND BUILDING GUARANTEES

How do you hand over the apartment?

You will be contacted two weeks in advance with a date for the official handover of the apartments. If you cannot be there in person, the Trustee Lawyer and independent, court appointed surveyor will represent you.

What about snagging?

The developer provides an abstract bank guarantee with a value of 2% of the purchase price to cover unforeseen snagging defects.  A report will be produced documenting any snagging issues at the time of handover. Any issues raised must be fixed within six weeks if the apartment is vacant.

Is the apartment delivered to the owner turnkey?

At the time of handover, the apartment will be fully fitted with all contents and appliances included in the inventory and the design scheme chosen by the owner.  

A full furniture pack including cutlery and crockery is included in the purchase price.  Everything required for rental is supplied with the apartment and is detailed in the Building and Furnishings specifications sheet you will receive prior to purchasing.  

A choice of three high-quality design schemes for the apartments have been created and owners are invited to choose their preferred interiors.

Are there any building guarantees?

Yes, we negotiate bank guarantees with tradesmen for the following:

  • 10 years for the roof covering
  • 5 years for the mechanical systems (heating, electrics, lifts)
  • 3.5 years for the remaining works including the shell of the building
  • 2 years for electrical goods

Furthermore, Austrian Building Law allows for a 30-year Statute of Limitations for all hidden defects.

POST HANDOVER – CONDOMINIUM FEES (WEG), RENTAL INCOME AND PERSONAL USAGE

What is the Facility Management Company’s role and who appoints them?

The Facility Management Company is appointed to represent the Condominium Owners Association before handover of the apartments. The Facility Management Company will read the meters for water, electricity and heating and appoint the caretaker, utility and maintenance providers and ensure the building has full insurance coverage.

How much are the WEG costs and what do they include?

WEG fees are your condominium fees. The total operating costs of the building are divided proportionately between the Condominium Owners Association (WEG) according to the size of each owner’s property. These are payable monthly in advance.

Your share of communal service charges is determined by a court-appointed assessor based on the title document for each individual apartment, which is detailed in the Sale and Purchase Agreement.  

The heating, water and electricity costs of running your individual apartment are an estimated fee between EUR 4.00 and 8.00 per of the apartment per month, depending on the level of infrastructure in the general areas.  Included in the fees are the following services:

  • Heating
  • Wastewater
  • Electricity and lighting in the general areas
  • Refuse disposal
  • Building insurance
  • Caretaker services
  • Snow removal
  • Cleaning of common areas
  • Chimney sweep
  • Heating maintenance contract
  • Lift maintenance contract
  • Maintenance of common areas
  • Internet
  • Cable TV
  • Auditing costs
  • A sinking fund for future maintenance

At the end of the year if you have overpaid, you will be refunded and if you have underpaid you will be invoiced for the balance.

What is the role of the operator? How will the apartments be rented?

The operator consisting of a professional team of employees with experience in the hotel industry as well as sales and marketing has been appointed for the rental and management of the apartments.

The operator endeavours to generate a maximum occupancy at the highest possible rates. The net rental income minus the 20% commission for the operator goes into the rental pool.  Owners are allocated their share of the income quarterly according to the owner’s share of the rental pool.  The share of rental pool is calculated as a fraction of the purchase price of the apartment in relation to the purchase price of all apartments.

Not included in the rental pool is the income from additional services and the owner’s booking. The operating costs are divided proportionally according to the owners share of the rental pool.

The role of the rental operator is to market the apartments, maintain a booking system, handle guest deposits, organise check in/check out, keys, cleaning and fresh linen, oversee quality control within the apartments and the payment of tourist tax to the authorities. They also publish the rental income and distribute it to the owners.

The accounts are audited annually for complete transparency.

Rental Pool – What kind of rental income can I expect?

You will receive your percentage of the rental pool income whether your apartment is rented or not. You are only excluded from the pooled income when you occupy the apartment yourself.

What costs arise when I stay in my apartment?

Owners pay for their end of stay cleaning of the apartment (fee depending on size) and tourist tax. Owners will also be obliged to pay an administration fee of €150 per stay. The owner is excluded from the rental pool during these periods but 10% VAT calculated on the value of their discounted stay is paid.

Can owners also book into their own apartment at short notice?

Yes, that is possible. Owners receive online access to the occupancy status and can therefore always check the current availability of their own apartment.

If your own apartment is free, a short-term stay is of course also possible.

Can guests sleep on the sofa?

Yes, the sofa in the living room can be booked as a bed for two additional adults.

However, it should be noted that with 1-bedroom apartments only the owner (after consultation with the operator) and not paying guests can occupy the apartment with two additional guests.

What happens if a booking for my own apartment is cancelled?

The same reservation and cancellation conditions apply as for guests.

This can be seen both on the reservation confirmation and on the website of the respective resort.

Who will do my accounting?

We have negotiated a very reasonable tax package with an Austrian accountancy firm specialising in tourism residences. You can engage the tax advisors at the time of purchase.  They will register you for VAT in Austria, advise you on tax issues during the purchase process and handle your VAT and Tax returns in the future.

How does the local tax system work?

The local authority charges tax on the land of the building, a proportion of which will be paid directly by you, as a part-owner of the freehold.  The Land tax is a nominal sum and the council will issue you an invoice annually.

The opening of the Ski Season in Tyrolean Resorts

As holiday resorts that rely on sun and sea wind down towards the end of the season, ski resorts are gearing up for opening, if the season hasn’t already started.  Here’s some information about the season openings in three of the top resorts in Austria’s stunning Tyrol region.

Sölden – 10 October

Some of Sölden’s glacier runs are already open subject to daily snow conditions, with the lifts going up from 8 am till 3.30 pm and the last downward journey at 4 pm.  On the 10th  and 11th  October, the iconic Rettenbach Glacier opens with a celebration including free tests of top-branded ski and snowboarding equipment, not to mention a big party throughout the resort.  The offical Winter season starts on the 14th of November when more lifts will open.

One of Austria’s leading ski resorts, Sölden gives access to 146km of slopes for all levels of skiers, though it particularly suits the adventurous intermediate skier.  The Rettenbach regularly hosts the first event of the World Cup, the Giant Slalom, from the spectacular stadium on the glacier, giving holiday-makers the opportunity to rub shoulders with the world’s top skiers, whether on the glacier or at the resort’s lively après-ski scene.

Kühtai – 27 November

Although Kühtai’s higher slopes have snow to allow year-round skiing for die-hards and photoshoots, the season properly gets underway on the 27th November when all slopes and lifts open for the winter.  From then on, the lifts and pistes open at 9 am, with the pistes closing at 4 pm and the lifts a quarter of an hour later.

From Kühtai, you have access to 41 km of pistes slopes (80 km when you link to Oetz), consisting of blue, red, black and freestyle parks, offering everything from a safe environment for children to learn to real challenges for the experts, whether skiing or snowboarding.  The resort’s height, at 2,200m, means that you can always rely on good snow even on the bottom slopes from November right through to May.

St Anton – 4 December

St Anton has a justified reputation as a party resort with spectacular après-ski, that’s secondary to the main business of skiing.  The season kicks off on the 4th December with a three-day festival of skiing and music, with its highlight a concert on the 5th featuring 80s pop star Kim Wilde.

Properties in Austria - Kristall Spaces St Anton - Kim Wilde concert

Once the season is underway, St Anton’s 97 lifts and cable cars give access to 350km of managed pistes and 200km of challenging off-piste slopes.  There’s something for everyone.  Although the area is especially known for its expert-level slopes, it also offers some of the best children’s lessons in the Alps. And there’s always that lively après-ski scene in the evening.

Kristall Spaces has ski apartments for sale in all three resorts.  Contact us today in case you are visiting the area and would like to visit on of our developments.

Cross-Country Skiing in Austria

cross country Austria
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.