We caught up with Gareth Jefferies from Alpine Property for this winter’s magazine and asked him about the state of the local housing market amid all the Brexit goings-on at the start of the winter season. Doesn’t that seem like a long time ago now? So amid the current COVID-19 situation we caught up with Gareth again to find out a bit about the man himself, a bit more about Alpine Property and what the housing market looks like at the moment.
How long have you lived in the valley and have you always worked in property?
I moved out to Morzine with my wife Sam as a chalet host / ski guide working for VIP Ski. We left our jobs with the police in November 1999 and arrived in Morzine a few days later. We had no intention of leaving the Alps after our first season so signed up for a second and stayed on over the summer to do maintenance work. We met the founder of Alpine Property at a barbecue that summer. He needed someone who could operate a computer and maintain a simple website, so I did this part-time to start with alongside various other jobs. During that first 10 years we became a family of five and eventually Alpine Property became full-time. We originally covered the Portes du Soleil and then expanded throughout the Haute Savoie.
Tell us a little bit about what you do at Alpine Property.
I’ve always remained in the backroom of Alpine Property. I started off doing all the IT and being first online contact with new clients. The job has evolved somewhat so my main role is now Director of Marketing. I still do the IT but the job has expanded so much it is now more about managing the IT!
And tell us a little bit about Alpine Property as a whole – are you a big team? Where do you operate? Do you specialise in specific types of property?
We are now 21 people, 17 agents and 4 of us in the background. We cover the whole of the Haute Savoie, so that’s all the skiing in the northern French Alps, within 1.5 hours of Geneva airport. We are the biggest agent that covers that area and we have over 350 properties for sale. We don’t deal with rentals and we have always been an online agency, meaning we don’t have physical branches. Web based marketing, social media marketing and digital marketing has always been our speciality. We diversified from a UK focus in 2008 and now are 60% / 40% spread across French and Anglophone clients.
You wrote an excellent article for our current issue about the mid-Brexit state of the housing market this winter. Has that changed with COVID-19 pandemic or is it too soon to tell?
Too soon to tell. We are very much in the midst of the crisis. As the days go by some of the log jams are being loosened (the banks and the notaires) and we are getting a little bit of clarity about how long this will last. The beginning of the year was record breaking for us with regards to new enquiries and sales agreed, so we’re all busy trying to keep these sales on track. We are still completing transactions and still agreeing new sales, too. However, enquiries are right down. There are some, but they are 20% of what we are used to.
Are you able to offer virtual tours?
We are able to offer virtual visits using our fabulous 360 platform called Nodalview. We have 360 videos too and we can do a teleconference with our clients to talk them through the property. We take multiple 360 degree images around a property to create a walk-through tour. This is available on our website for a customer to browse in their own time. Otherwise they can make an appointment with us to accompany them on the tour. They can control the image, or we can, and we can describe the property along the way, much like you would during a property visit. These tours can be done with VR headsets too, however not many people have them yet!
What would be your top piece of advice to people who are interested in buying a property in the Alps at the moment?
The same as usual. The mountains aren’t going anywhere. The air is clean. If I had to choose to be locked down anywhere it would be here! Get you ducks in a row. Speak to the mortgage companies. Make virtual visits of the properties. Discuss your options with our agents and then when we can travel again come out and visit. From a buyer’s point of view it will certainly start off as a buyer’s market.
You can find out more about Alpine Property HERE or check them out on Facebook HERE. Plus there’s lots of useful information on the Alpine Property blog.