Why summer is the best time to buy a spot in Victoria’s snowfields

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Wednesday 19 December 2019

BY KATE JONES

In the sweltering summer, skiing is the last thing on anyone’s mind. But it’s the best time to snap up a cool deal in Victoria’s high country.

Serious investors who search the alps at the beginning of summer are likely to find a bargain. Not only are they competing with fewer buyers, but they stand to benefit from sellers keen to offload their properties before Christmas.

The peak selling period in popular spots such as Mount Buller, Dinner Plain and Mount Hotham is between April and September. But buyers will find themselves paying more during the colder months, says Castran managing director John Castran.

“We do get higher prices when the snow’s on the ground and when people impulse buy,” he says. “If you ask when is the best time to buy, it’s from now to Easter.”

At Falls Creek, this four-bedroom penthouse apartment is selling for $790,000 – $60,000 less than the original asking price.

This five-bedroom house in Dinner Plain, advertised at $575,000, sold for $510,000 in the first weekend of December. A similar five-bedroom house on the same road sold in August for $650,000.

“They’re bloody cheap,” Castran says. “If you want to go to the beach and buy something you cannot buy anything for the prices we talk about in the alpine properties. If you go and buy a beach house, you’re not going to find anything reasonable unless you spend $800k to $1.5 million.

“For $500,000 or even $300,000 to $600,000 you can buy a beautiful property in the alpine areas. We’re getting a lot of people buying them then they get some weeks of skiing before renting them out in summer and winter. And they’re getting some really genuine returns.”

Unlike many of Victoria’s alpine areas, properties at Dinner Plain are freehold rather than leasehold. The majority of houses at Dinner Plain were designed by architect Professor Peter McIntyre, who partnered with Castran and entrepreneur Geoff Henke to develop the land there in 1986.

The median price at Dinner Plain is $477,500 – up by a huge 19.4 per cent in the year to September. The surge is partially owing to hotel giant Wyndham Destinations taking a $20 million stake in Peppers Resort and 38 properties at Dinner Plain near Mount Hotham. Wyndham rebranded the 18-room hotel as a Ramada Resort and renovated the houses to complement the hotel.

Agents say new apartment developments, such as Whitehorse Village and Bella Vista at Mount Buller are drawing an increasing number of sellers to the snowfields.

Healthy sales at Mount Buller, the closest resort to Melbourne, are being fuelled by two recent bumper snow seasons, says local agent Mark Adams. This five-bedroom chalet with a heated driveway is on the market for $1.22 million.

“We’ve had great snow seasons, so over the last 12 months prices have gone up, and demand is good,” he says. “In summer it’s a good time to buy because there are certainly fewer people looking. This is when we get the serious buyers making the drive up.”

Victoria’s alpine areas are also driving increased activity in the off-season with bike riders flocking in keen for the challenge of a mountain climb. The Alpine Classic in January sees cyclists tour the roads around Bright, Mount Beauty, Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Buffalo.

Cycling tourism brings $16 million into the regional economy around these areas each year, according to the Alpine Shire Council.

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