The ski property market in Andorra and the Spanish Pyrenees remains stable with strong sales activity, according to Engel & Völkers.
Andorra, a Principality known for its three ski resorts Ski Andorra, Vallnord and Grandvalira, attracts investors from all over Europe.
Its resorts cover over 300km of slopes and it is renowned for tax-haven status and proximity to Barcelona, which is a three-hour drive away.
Engel & Völkers reports that despite the pandemic, average prices in the La Massana, Escalades and Andorra La Vella areas have increased to €4,200 per sq metre, up from €3,989 in 2019.
In the centre of Andorra, a 100 sq metre three-bed apartment is likely to cost around €500,000, while a large house on the outskirts - which may need refurbishment - could set investors back closer to €1 million.
The agency says that traditionally investors purchasing in Andorra are looking for holiday homes. However, during 2020 there has been a shift towards looking for permanent residency.
Around 50% of Engel & Völkers' clients are now looking to live in the area permanently to take advantage of the Principality's tax haven status and safe, healthy environment.
The shift towards permanent residents has been felt among British buyers too. However, overall demand for British buyers has dropped by 30% since last year due to Brexit and Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The most in-demand areas of Andorra at the moment, according to Engel & Völkers, are Canillo and La Massana due to their proximity to the ski slopes, connections to the town centre and short distance to the French border.
"Buyers regard Andorra as a safe and healthy location, the Principality's fiscal status continues to be a big draw for investors and high rental yields for property, particularly in peak season, are also attractive factors," says Thomas Kampfraat, managing director of Engel & Völkers Andorra.
"Despite everything that has happened this year, our sales to date have increased over 2019 indicating that the demand for Andorra is still strong and we expect this trend to continue through winter."
Meanwhile, along the Pyrenees in Spain's Vall d'Aran - located 300km from Barcelona airport - increased demand has been seen from French and British buyers over the past decade.
The region comprises 33 villages, its capital Vielha is located in the centre and there is the premium Baqueira Beret resort, known as the ski area of choice for the Spanish Royal Family.
Engel & Völkers reports that the second home market here has performed 'exceptionally well' in 2020 with 30% more sales transactions compared with 2019.
It says that buyers are typically looking for three to four-bed houses and apartments with an average price of 500,000. Properties closer to the slopes of Baqueira Beret are likely to cost north of 1 million.
Prices across Vall d'Aran can vary. For example, in Alt Aran, prices range from 3,600 per sq metre to 4,900 per sq metre. Meanwhile, only 10km away in Baja Aran, prices are lower at 1,600 per sq metre, rising to an average of 2,300 per sq meter in Vielha.
The agency says that the region's rental market is focused almost solely on short-term rentals due to demand during the ski season. During the peak winter season over Christmas, a three-bed apartment close to the slopes can fetch up to 7,000 per week.
Since the pandemic, however, there has been growing demand for summer holiday lets. These types of lets require a special licence from the local council.
"Our clients love skiing and that's the principal attraction to the area. If anything the pandemic has brought has more buyers this year, which is set to be our best yet, there has been a distinctive shift with our clients whose principal objective is to “escape” their home town and use the property in summer as well," comments Javier Cardona, managing director of Engel & Völkers, Lleida, Val d'Aran.
"Although this winter will be complicated due to the volatile travel restrictions regardless, we are confident that clients' long-term plans will continue when they are able to return."