Overseas Housing & Property Insight
British Buyers Eye Up Euro Bargains
Posted on May 16, 2012
British buyers are starting to look to the two countries that have been worst affected by the Euro crisis for cheap property. Greece and Ireland might not seem like the best places to buy property, but the crisis that has devastated both their housing markets has meant that for overseas buyers at least, there are some bargains to be had. Irish prices have halved since their 2007 peak. Greek prices have not seen falls on quite that scale, but they have been falling steadily since 2007 too. Combined with the pound’s rise against the Euro, low prices are tempting many to see whether they can fulfil their overseas property dreams in these markets.
Searching for Property
According to Rightmove Overseas, property searches for both Greece and Ireland have risen recently. While it pays for anyone thinking of buying in a troubled market to be cautious, there are good reasons why buying in either of these countries might not be the reckless move it would first seem. Buying in a distressed market as an investment might not be a wise move for individuals, although for big investors able to take a risk it could pay off. For those looking to buy a holiday or permanent home for their own use, buying in Greece or Ireland could be a good way to get a home at an affordable price.
Anyone buying in either of these markets should do so with the long-term in mind. That said, there are reasons for optimism, particularly in Ireland, and so the decision to buy could pay off financially too. Irish property is overvalued by up to a quarter, according to Ireland’s central bank. That means that if investor confidence returns, prices could see sudden, sharp rises. In Greece, prices continue to fall in much of the country, but are relatively stable in the holiday areas of the Greek islands: the areas that will most appeal to British buyers. Island prices have only dropped 1% in the last year, less than the falls in the UK over the same period. Greece’s political unrest, too, is largely confined to the mainland cities, rather than the island holiday resorts.
If you are thinking of moving abroad or buying a holiday home, Greece and Ireland could be better places to buy than you might think. Check local price trends before you buy, and make sure you get holiday home insurance to protect your new home.
Investors See Big Returns in Portugal
Posted on May 14, 2012
British buyers looking to invest in an overseas rental property should consider buying in Portugal. The market in Portugal is weak, with the most recent figures from March 2012 showing falling prices and sales. A large part of the reason for the market’s weakness is that those who would have chosen to buy in the past are unable to access finance. This is helping the rental market in the country, keeping tenant demand strong. The rental market is also likely to be boosted by a new law expected to be passed by the Portuguese Parliament later this month. The law will do away with restrictive rent laws that kept rents set low, and will lower landlords’ taxes.
Cities and Beaches
The best returns on Portugal property are likely to be in the main holiday area of the Algarve, and in the big cities of Lisbon and Porto. In the Algarve, you will find a very varied selection of properties, from traditional stone houses on cobbled streets in ancient fishing villages, to brand new apartments and villas. Some of the newer properties might appeal more to the holiday market, especially as they are likely to have swimming pools, but older properties offer character and if you are prepared to invest in renovations, can be turned into real dream homes. A good alternative to beachside properties in the Algarve is the Silver Coast, which lies just north of the Algarve. Once undiscovered, the area is still much quieter than the Algarve, but development and popularity there is rising, which is likely to push prices up in the coming years.
If you are keen to have an urban home, the capital, Lisbon is a great choice. The central areas such as the Barrio Alto and Alfama are full of fantastic character homes, close to all the city’s nightlife and cultural attractions. Some good quality newer properties, including exclusive apartment developments and family villas can be found outside the central areas. Porto is Portugal’s second city, and is a good alternative to Lisbon. It has all the same character and its own international airport, but is smaller and more relaxed than the capital. Wherever you choose to buy in Portugal, make sure you market your property well locally and online to get the best returns, and protect those returns with overseas property insurance.
Turkish Market Opened Up
Posted on May 11, 2012
The Turkish property market has received a boost this week from the Turkish parliament. The ‘reciprocity law’ had restricted the purchase of homes in Turkey to citizens of those countries that allowed Turkish citizens to buy in their countries on the same terms. This opens up the Turkish market to buyers from the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia. This is likely to mean that there is an influx of new buyers, pushing up prices. The change in the law is expected to bring around $5 billion dollars of investment cash into the country. Russian buyers in particular have come to be major players in some other markets, and so may come to play a major part in Turkey too.
What does this mean for British buyers and owners in Turkey? If prices are likely to rise soon, then this could be just the right time to snap up a bargain before they do. That said, there is no reason to panic: prices in Turkey are still low in most areas, and even if prices rise, it should still be possible to pick up a bargain home.
Turkey is an attractive place to buy for many reasons. For those thinking of moving overseas, the low living costs and year-round sunshine are a big draw, with costs only around half what they are in the UK. For those who want to use their property as a holiday home (whether to rent out, for their own use, or both), Turkey has plenty of choice of different kinds of resorts and regular budget flights from the UK. You’ll find big, busy resorts with plenty of bars if that’s your thing: take a look at Gumbet or Bodrum, or the fast-growing Altinkum. If you want a more Turkish experience, try the upmarket Kalkan, or Akyaka, a popular resort with Turkish holidaymakers.
As you would wherever you choose to buy overseas, it pays to take some sensible precautions when buying in Turkey. Remember to get covered with holiday home insurance and make sure you get solid legal and financial advice when buying.
The Big Spanish Sell-Off
Posted on May 9, 2012
Spain’s property market has taken a battering over the last few years, with dropping prices and repossessions. Those who bought at the top of the market have seen their property’s value drop by as much as half in some cases, particularly in the popular holiday areas of the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, where many resorts have a considerable oversupply of property. This has presented a huge opportunity for bargain hunters, with bank-owned repossessed properties and ‘distressed’ properties (those still owned by the mortgagee but under imminent threat of repossession) being sold off cheaply.
As well as low prices, banks are offering some excellent mortgage deals on property that they own. Getting a mortgage in Spain for property not owned by the banks is difficult, with mortgage lending standing at only a quarter of its 2007 levels. However, banks are prepared to lend in order to get repossessed properties off their hands. Mortgages of over 100% are available on some properties, often on new resort developments where the bank has repossessed the whole development and needs to get rid of all the property on it.
There are some very tempting deals in Spain at the moment, but they should be approached with caution. Many of the best deals are in hard-to-sell properties in saturated markets. If they are hard to sell, they may well be hard to rent too. The market in Spain continues to fall, with prices on the Mediterranean coast down nearly 15% in the year to April 2012. If you want to buy as an investment, now might not be the best time.
Moving to Spain
If you want to move to Spain, then this could be the perfect time to pick up a bargain. You could pick up a property you would never otherwise have been able to afford, and get a mortgage much more easily than you would have thought. If the holiday resorts of the Mediterranean do not appeal, there are bargains a-plenty in the major cities too. When working out costs, make sure you remember to factor in overseas property insurance, local taxes and utility bills. Even with those costs included, you may find that your Spanish dream is much more achievable than you think.
Umbria and Tuscany Rising
Posted on May 4, 2012
Property experts in Italy are urging British buyers to look at buying now in the country, as prices seem set to rise, especially in the popular areas of Umbria and Tuscany. Italy’s property market has dropped since its peak, but there are now clear signs of recovery, with property searches showing an increase over the last year. With the pound now increasing in value against the Euro, this could be the right time for UK buyers to get into the Italian market. Both Umbria and Tuscany have a huge range of property on offer across the price range. Pick up a sub-100,000 Euro bargain or splash out on a multi-million Euro palace. There are still some great renovation projects around in rural areas too, although make sure you get good overseas building insurance to protect the value of your investment.
Umbria is a hilly region right in the heart of Italy. It is a magical place with gorgeous rolling countryside and well-preserved medieval hill towns. Towns like Perugia and Assisi are bursting with history and make great places to buy. Umbria is an increasingly popular holiday destination with British families and couples looking for a different kind of holiday: what it lacks in beaches, Umbria more than makes up for in authentic Italian atmosphere. Umbria is a major arts and cultural centre too, and hosts many arts and music festivals.
Tuscany is one of the best-known of Italian regions, and with good reason. Cities like Florence and Pisa are world-famous for their Renaissance art and architecture. The Tuscan countryside is full of gentle hills and ancient villages, and produces both fantastic wine and a cuisine that is among the world’s best. Along its coastline is a string of high-quality beach resorts, such as Viareggio in the upmarket Verisilia areas Tuscany attracts British tourists looking for a high-quality holiday without all the usual clichés, as well as wealthy Italians.
Posted on May 2, 2012
British buyers are flocking to the Balearic Islands of Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera. The Spanish Statistics Institute reports that the islands are growing in popularity with British and other overseas buyers, with expats now making up over a fifth of residents, the highest proportion in Spain. You do not have to look hard to see why the Balearics are so popular: good infrastructure, a wide variety of resorts of all sizes, sandy beaches and stunning pine-covered mountains. If you are thinking of buying in the Balearics, read on for our guide to the islands, and when you’ve chosen your new home, remember to keep it safe with holiday home insurance.
Majorca is most popular of the islands, and has developed a rather upmarket image in recent years. The big resorts of Magaluf and Palma Nova in the south still bring in the party crowd, but elsewhere there are some gorgeous homes to be found in family-friendly resorts and traditional Majorcan villages. The capital, Palma, has lots of elegant historic buildings, set around an attractive bay. Along the east coast you’ll find wide beaches and resorts, while the west is rocky and wild, and much less densely populated.
Ibiza is famous as a party island, but there is much more to it than that. The capital, Ibiza Town is a fascinating place, with a walled old town and a friendly vibe. Around the coast there are various beach resorts, such as family-oriented Santa Eulalia, with its safe beach, good shopping and arty feel. Just off the coast is Formentera, a tiny island fringed with white sand beaches. There is no airport, which keeps it relatively undiscovered.
Menorca has more beaches than Majorca and Ibiza put together, from tiny coves to huge stretches of sand. Built around them is a wide choice of resorts. They include large, busy resorts like Cala Galdana that throng with families in summer, and tiny traditional fishing villages. The northern coast is quieter and less populated than the south.
Norway and Switzerland Top of Europe
Posted on April 30, 2012
Global real estate agency Knight Frank has revealed its list of the world’s top ten real estate markets. Fuelled by its rapid economic growth, China tops the list, followed by neighbouring Hong Kong. Other notable emerging markets to make the top ten include Colombia and Malaysia. Only two European countries make it onto the list: Norway and Switzerland. In contrast to most of the ten, they are not new markets, but well-established ones. Both have managed to avoid the worst of the European economic crisis, partly because neither is part of the EU and therefore not part of the Euro. If you want to buy a European home in a rising market, what could these two very different countries have to offer?
Benefitting from natural resources that support a growing economy, and low interest rates, Norway’s housing market is booming. The capital, Oslo, is a modern, bustling city with 1000 years of history and a modern outlook. Nearby Bergen has a gorgeous coastal location, and a relatively warm climate. The smaller, quieter city of Trondheim was once Norway’s capital. Today it is a place to step back in time to a slower pace of life. If you want winter skiing and summer hiking, look at homes around Lillehammer, the centre of the country’s skiing industry. If you’re really adventurous, look to Tromso and the rest of the northern polar region.
Switzerland has long been one of the world’s most exclusive destinations, and also has some of the world’s most exclusive and expensive property. It is best known for its mountains, and offers some of the world’s best skiing. Buying in well-known resorts like St Moritz and Verbier is prohibitively expensive for most, but more affordable homes can be found in some of the smaller resorts. Away from the slopes, the capital, Bern, is a UNESCO world heritage site with a very pretty medieval centre. The larger cities of Geneva and Zurich regularly top lists of the places to live with the best quality of life in the world.
Buying a new home
Wherever you choose to buy, you’ll need to research the local market thoroughly to make sure you understand any risks involved. Also make sure you protect your investment by getting overseas building insurance and making sure you get good financial advice.
Overseas Property: Why Buy?
Posted on April 27, 2012
Manchester Metropolitan University and the BBC’s A Place in the Sun are teaming up to carry out research into the overseas property market. Speaking to trade magazine Overseas Property Professional they said that their research will cover who buys property abroad, how they finance it, what they use it for and why they buy it. It will be interesting to read their report, when it is published. Until then, we have put together some ideas of our own about why people buy abroad. They fall into three main groups.
Holidaymakers are those who want to buy abroad mostly so that they can use their home for themselves. They want a base that they, their family and their friends can use for relaxed, extended holidays. Having made their purchase, they probably want to use it as much as possible, so might travel there several times a year. They might rent their property out part of the year too, to help pay for it. If you want to buy a holiday home, then location is important. If you plan to visit often, then buying within an hour or so of a major airport or port is a good idea. Think about the size of the property: don’t buy larger than you need if you won’t use the space.
Those who want to move abroad have the freedom to really buy their dream home. Different considerations apply when moving. You might want to buy a more traditional home in a local village, and get to know the language and culture. Or, you might be keen to be somewhere with a ready-made expat community that you can join. Think about access to services when you move abroad: do you need schools? Medical care? Supermarkets? Your needs for life are different from your needs for a two-week trip.
Those who buy to invest either hope to make a return on their investment by selling in a rising market a few years after buying, or they want to make a rental income, or both. The first is riskier, so do your research if that is something you’re considering. Be prepared for the market to fall unexpectedly: you may need to hold on to your property for longer than you planned. Buying to rent tends to be less risky, as long as you buy in an established holiday area without a property oversupply. Look for areas with long or year-round seasons for the best return.
Whatever your reasons for buying abroad, it can be both exciting and fulfilling to own property overseas. You get the chance to get to know another country’s people and culture, and often make new friends. Remember to get the basics right, getting overseas property insurance in place and good local legal advice.
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