The New York Times
September 4, 2013
International Real Estate
House Hunting in... the French Alps
By Peter Sigal
A CONTEMPORARY CHALET ON LAKE ANNECY
This 2003 chalet, built of concrete and siding construction, is on the desirable east side of Lake Annecy in the community of Veyrier du Lac. It has four bedrooms and three baths over 2,600 square feet of living space, as well as a four-car garage. The terraced property has a spacious deck and a heated 12-meter-long pool, and half an acre of landscaped gardens fall away to the lake several hundred feet below.
On the first floor, a double-height row of windows face west in the living room, which has a fireplace. The owner, a restaurateur and hotelier, has equipped the kitchen with professional-grade appliances, said the listing agent, Benoît Clerc of Agence Clerc in Veyrier du Lac. Also on the first floor are a television room and a master suite with a dressing area. The second floor has three bedrooms and two baths.
The house has a furnished basement, and the garage has a 430-square-foot utility room.
Boating and water-skiing access to the nine-mile-long lake are within a few minutes’ walk. The city of Annecy, with its picturesque Palais de l’Ile and renowned Sunday market, is about 10 minutes away by car, though shopping and amenities are available in Veyrier du Lac. The Grand Bornand and Clusaz ski areas are about 30 minutes’ drive. The Geneva airport is less than 45 minutes’ drive.
Geography plays an outsize role in the Lake Annecy market, agents said: the eastern shore is much more desirable — and expensive — because the setting sun bathes it in a rich Alpine light until 9 or 10 p.m. in summer. Conversely, as the sun sets behind the steep western peaks, homes on that side of the lake fall into shadow by mid-afternoon. And as a further inducement, the east side has less traffic than the west.
[...] Buyers have a choice of properties either with direct lake access or at higher elevations with panoramic views. Mr. Clerc said a typical 2,000-square-foot chalet in the main east side communities of Veyrier du Lac, Menthon Saint-Bernard or Talloires with a small pool would sell for about 1.5 million euros ($2 million). Overseas buyers fleeing unstable economies and the continuing popularity of lakefront property have helped Annecy weather the European financial crisis better than most areas, agents said. Mr. Clerc said that 2011 was the market’s best year, with prices returning to 2007 levels.There was a hiccup in 2012, as France awaited the policies of François Hollande, who ran for president on a platform of raising taxes on the wealthy.“Today we are back on the level of 2007, but down from a peak in 2011,” Mr. Clerc said. “The peak was a bit after other places. We didn’t really experience the crisis.”
WHO BUYS IN ANNECY
[...] More recently, Mr. Clerc said, residents of Gulf states like Qatar have bought some of the most expensive properties around the lake. [...]
There are no restrictions on foreigners in France. Agents charge a fee of about 5 percent, paid by the seller.All transactions must go through a notary public, who oversees the contract and closing, handles negotiations, and collects all transaction taxes and fees owed to the government. Notary fees and transaction taxes together are typically about 7 percent of the sales price, and are paid by the buyer. Many foreign buyers retain a lawyer, though this is not required.
French inheritance and capital-gains taxes can be high compared with those of other countries. In an effort to jump-start the property market, Mr. Hollande this year rolled back the number of years before properties become exempt from capital gains to 22 years from 30.
Lake Annecy tourism office: lac-annecy.com
City of Annecy: Annecy.eu
Ski areas: skiresorts.com
LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY
French; euro (1 euro=$1.34)
TAXES AND FEES
Property taxes are about 4,000 euros a year ($5,400)
Benoît Clerc, Agence Clerc (33) 4 50 64 88 88; agence-clerc.com