12 April 2006

China's property boom tested

The billboards that line the road from the airport to the center of this metropolis in China's southwest proclaim as soon as you arrive that the country's property boom has spread firmly to the interior.

Touting housing developments like "Venice Impression" and "Dream Town," they are as ubiquitous as the cranes and frames of high-rises covering the hills on the outskirts of this gateway to the west, which not long ago were only dotted with villages.

Once a scene reserved for eastern cities like Beijing and Shanghai, they testify to a transformation overtaking China's second-tier cities, as investment in factories and infrastructure brings in jobs and raises incomes.

"Chongqing's property market right now is a lot like Hangzhou's five or six years ago, only without the same kind of bubble Hangzhou went through," said Lian J H Ye from the Chongqing office of property consultants DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.

Hangzhou, and its close neighbor Shanghai, came under the spotlight for rampant property speculation that sent prices soaring. Beijing responded with a raft of cooling steps, including levying capital gains taxes on homes resold within a short period and higher down payment requirements.

Ye thinks Chongqing will be spared a similar fate because its market took off after the lessons from Shanghai had been learned.

A lot is riding for the world economy on whether he is right.

More here.

10 April 2006

Property tax breaks in Oregon

When Toledo fire fighter Rudy Garcia went looking for land on which to build a home, he was eager to find a real estate tax haven.

He didn't have to search far.

Newly built homes in a wide swath covering a majority of land in Toledo are eligible for a program that forgives most property taxes for 15 years.

Begun more than two decades ago in an attempt to spawn home construction in "discouraged" areas of Toledo, the program has grown to cover two-thirds of the city, municipal administrators said.

In a little noted development last year, City Council added the popular neighborhoods of Point Place, the North Towne area, and Reynolds Corners.

The program now stretches to the city of Oregon to the east, Springfield Township to the west, Bedford Township to the north, and Rossford and Northwood to the south.

More here.

04 April 2006

Tips for building your overseas portfolio

The emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe are current hot spots, attracting a lot of interest with low entry costs and the potential for high capital growth.

However, the advantages and the security of more mature markets should not be overlooked. France is a great example. According to the annual French Property Market Report, published by the French property experts, VEF, France is still an exciting market with house prices set to rise by an average of 11 per cent this year.

VEF's long term prediction for the market is healthy with prices set to perform over the 8-9 per cent p.a. rate over the next decade, which shows there is still plenty of room in the Gallic market for growth. This is reassuring news for investors looking for sustainability and no unwanted surprises to their portfolio.

However, perhaps the best part for many is France itself. You can buy your dream apartment or villa as a buy to let and you can also use it for your own holidays. Tips from VEF include looking into regions such as Burgundy, Languedoc, Loire and Pyrenees Atlantiques. With low cost flights to France becoming cheaper from most areas of the UK and Ireland access has never been easier.

France still offers an incredible diversity of property, be it old or new at a price range to suit most budgets. VEF has a charming luxury development called 'Le Hameau des Pins' set in the breathtaking Corbieres hills near the Mediterranean coast with prices starting from just £130,000. With private swimming pools and views of the nearby Cathar castle and vineyards, this offers excellent letting potential.

A concept which is becoming ever more familiar is the 'leaseback purchase'. This is a particularly attractive idea that has existed in France for more than 20 years. You buy a freehold new build property on a holiday complex (for example by the sea, on a golf course on in a ski resort) and you sign an agreement with an onsite rental management company for a minimum of 9 years for them to rent out your property.

Not only does the French state give you a VAT concession worth nearly 20 per cent but you usually receive a guaranteed rental income and you can use the property yourself. According to VEF, the number of investors from Yorkshire who are opting for this type of holiday investment property has increased by 47 per cent between 2004 and 2005.

More here.

British buying the US

While Spain is the number one location for overseas property purchases, a biannual survey for A Place in the Sun Live reveals that the US has overtaken France to move into second place.

Australia takes fourth place ahead of Italy and New Zealand in the survey, which shows that the reasons for Brits making an overseas property purchase are varied.

More than a quarter of Brits are so-called 'family sun seekers'. They would buy an overseas property because they are looking for a safe reliable haven for holidays with their children.

Buying a place in the sun to enjoy a well-deserved retirement – 'reward reapers' – is the reason a fifth of people want to make an overseas property purchase.

Lifestyle concious Brits who want to expand their social horizons with an overseas property drive 16 per cent of purchases, while eight per cent of would-be-buyers are 'life changers', leaving the UK for a new life abroad.

Surprisingly, the number of people buying abroad for investment purposes is minimal by comparison.

Only three per cent of Brits see themselves as 'property tycoon wannabes', and two per cent of people want to 'jet-to-let' – buy abroad because they cannot afford to get on the property ladder in the UK.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that Britons are already investing more than £23 billion in overseas property, and most are looking to buy big.

03 April 2006

The World’s Most Exclusive Resort

If you could create the ideal holiday destination from scratch you’d probably want the perfect mixture of near-deserted white beaches, breathtaking scenery, year-round warm weather, sumptuous cuisine, a friendly native population and plenty to discover and explore. Fortunately this destination already exists in Southeast Asia in the shape of the Kingdom of Thailand; officially translated as the ‘land of the free’ but known to travelers the world over as ‘the land of smiles’.

Barama Bay Island is an 80 hectare parcel of paradise set in sheltered waters off the east coast of Phuket. White sand beaches are lapped by warm turquoise waters and an abundance of virgin tropical vegetation from coconut palms to mangroves covers the Island. Barama Bay has been conceived to be the most exclusive resort in the world. There are two options for gaining physical access to the Island, either a 15 minute drive from Phuket International Airport followed by a three minute water taxi journey to Barama Bay, or the faster and classier alternative – a five minute helicopter ride from the Airport directly to the Island’s helipad. There are three options for gaining access to the lifestyle that Barama Bay offers – being a guest of the Six Star Boutique Hotel, a Yacht Club member or the fortunate owner of one of the 30 waterfront Residential Estates.

Ownership of property on a completely private island in an idyllic setting has always been perceived to be the ultimate in real estate. There is a certain romanticism about being cut off from everyday modern life and being surrounded by water. It is a symbol of prestige, wealth, and has enormous investment value, largely because islands are limited, the supply can only diminish. By way of an example, Necker Island was purchased by Sir Richard Branson in 1978 for 303,000 US dollars and is now valued at a vast 106 million US dollars.

Residential Estate owners will have the best of everything that Barama Bay Island offers. Free to indulge in the facilities offered by the Hotel, free to frequent the Yacht Club and free to moor their private yacht. The residential area will be off-limits for anybody but owners and even have its own private residential pier. In fact the only transport that you will be able to bring to the Island is a yacht or helicopter, Barama Bay has a strict no-car policy, aside from the odd electric vehicle to drop you to your front door…

The sweeping waterfront plots will accommodate lavish properties with up to 5,000m² of internal space and owners can rely on the Six Star Resort Management company to look after you and your property whilst you’re at Barama Bay. An investment in Barama Bay real estate also comes with a family lifetime membership at one of Asia’s finest golf resorts. Blue Canyon Golf & Country Club covers 720 acres of the neighbouring island of Phuket and comprises two award-winning 18-hole courses set against the glorious backdrop of the Phang Nga mountains and the Andaman Sea. Blue Canyon has attracted the likes of Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Nick Faldo.

More here.