28 September 2012

Never a Better Time to Buy Abroad

Buying properties abroad can be nerve-wracking, especially in today’s economic climate. The fact that you will be dealing with a wholly different market from the UK, and you have little interaction or immersion with different areas, can make selecting and committing money to a property incredibly daunting.

Now is the best time to start considering making an investment in holiday property though. The Great British Pound is slowly growing in strength against the Euro, in fact buyers can expect to buy 25% more Euros per pound than they could three years ago, when the exchange rate was almost equal.

It means that you get a lot more for your money. This is coupled with a housing crash in many European countries. Spain in particular is a hotspot for those looking to purchase a holiday home. Due to the severe economic downturn in the country, house prices have plummeted, with some Spanish banks offering some properties discounted up to 70% against their 2008 price.

Head of Savills International, Charles Weston Baker, revealed that they have recently sold a property, which was originally valued at £5million, for just £1.2million.

However, economists and property experts have warned that house-hunters be wary. Spain having more than a million homes unsold, it means that supply will not exceed demand for many years and means that recovering house prices will be significantly delayed and while the recession in the UK seems to be lessening, the Euro-zone crisis is still tempestuous and there is no guarantee that house prices will not tumble again.

James Price, a partner at Knight Frank International has said, “[O]ne may question how much of a bargain these are. Such markets are likely to take some time to recover. This would include parts of mainland Spain and the more developed areas of the Algarve. Put another way, certain spots may still be considered reassuringly expensive. The trick I would say is to look at firmer markets. Getting good value rather than a bargain is probably a good tack.”

In terms of finding lenders abroad, France is the best bet with some banks offering up to 80% LTV (loan-to-value) mortgages and interest rates between 2.3% variable and 3.6% fixed on 20-year terms. Spain, Italy and Portugal are less willing to supply loans, the LTV in Spain is around 60% with a 4.5% interest rate. The LTVs in Italy and Portugal are higher, but interest rates are higher at 4.7% and 6% respectively.

Now is definitely a good time to have a look at properties abroad, if you can afford it. But be cautious and logical. Don’t be fooled by low prices and great bargains, it’s most likely because they are placed in high-risk areas. Shop around and find the best deal and make sure that you’re confident before you commit.

photo courtesy of Andrew_D_Hurley

14 September 2012

MyExpat - The Telegraph’s Service for British Expatriates

For those of you living the dream, with a lovely home abroad on some sunny section of paradise who are planning on leaving the Great British summer of grey clouds and rain (why would you want to go?!) The Telegraph, great British paper that it is, now provides a service for expatriates to discuss news abroad and connect with other British nationals living overseas – MyExpat

The service has been running for some time now and has gained quite a following, and it’s perfect for finding out if you want to find out whether moving abroad is right for you, or meeting new people that live in the same area as you.

It has great tips for dealing with overseas education, health and finance issues and it’s kept up to date by the people living abroad who have been through it all before and who know what information you need, people who are living through it now and keeping up to date with everything going on in the countries that can affect expats.

You can use the service to streamline your move abroad, or use it as an informal way of keeping up to date with information if you’re already overseas.

It’s a definite recommendation to anyone planning on moving abroad and just a suggestion for those already out there, chances are you know what’s going on. Either way, it’s a good platform for keeping in touch with your British roots, even if you can’t stand the weather.

06 September 2012

Top 5 Best and Worst Countries to Own Properties

Property markets have been fluctuating all year. Some countries fared better than other but for the most part, countries saw a slight drop in property value. For those of you who own property abroad, or are considering it, here are the 5 countries that bucked the trend and prospered followed by the worst hit areas to have an estate (all figures are adjusted for inflation by Global Property Guide).


  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
    • Year-on-year gain: 15.56%

  • Norway
    • Year-on-year gain: 6.26%

  • Delhi, India
    • Year-on-year gain: 6.23%

  • Germany
    • Year-on-year gain: 5.34%

  • Switzerland
    • Year-on-year gain: 4.86%

The gains are incredibly impressive, and reassuring for the economies of those countries. Brazil’s development is obviously the most impressive, with the market growing far beyond anywhere else in the world.

These places are great for holiday properties, if you want to purchase one you’ll have to pay more but can be confident that you’ll see a rise in the value of your chosen property. If you choose to sell, then you’ll be getting far more than last year.

Unfortunately some countries struggled over the past 12 months.


  • Ireland
    • Year-on-year loss: 16.85%

  • Spain
    • Year-on-year loss: 13.18%

  • Greece
    • Year-on-year loss: 11.92%

  • Portugal
    • Year-on-year loss: 10.95%

  • Holland
    • Year-on-year loss: 10.12%

The worst hit areas reflect the countries that are struggling within the Euro-zone. Ireland, Spain and most notably Greece have all suffered since going into recession several years ago and have required bailouts from other European countries. This has caused a huge amount of uncertainty and a lack of faith in the economy and house prices have fallen as a result.

Don’t worry too much, there’s no need to sell your holiday homes yet. Tourism and holidays are seeing a rise, especially throughout Europe. Just don’t try to sell right now, it should all pick up soon.