Britons Buying Property Abroad Favour France And Spain

France and Spain remain the firm favourites for those looking to buy a place in the sun, with 75% of house-hunters looking at these countries to purchase a home abroad.

 

The annual Property Hotspots Report, which analyses nine years’ worth of property enquiries to currency company HiFX, has found that France and Spain remain the most popular destinations for Britons hoping to buy holiday homes. The USA and Switzerland have risen up the ranks to clinch joint third place.

Over the past few years, Canada was also seen to be creeping up in popularity, as Britons invested in skiing properties. However, the growing popularity of American resorts such as Aspen and falling property prices in the USA have meant that Britons are now focusing in on the States.

 

 

Top Five Countries For Purchasing Property Abroad

 

 

Country

Percentage of enquiries

1

France

35%

2

Spain

35%

3

Switzerland

7%

4

USA

7%

5

Portugal

5%

Source: HiFX

 

 

Firm Favourites

 

France is a perennial favourite for Britons casting their net abroad. Its popularity as a holiday destination and proximity to the shores of Britain mean that it is generally considered a safe option.

According to HiFX data for the first two months of 2015, over a third of those looking to buy abroad are currently looking for a property across the channel; an interest level that hasn’t decreased for two years. Low borrowing costs and mortgage rates alongside the added appeal of easy access from the UK, nice weather and an idyllic lifestyle, mean that it’s an attractive place for British house-hunters.

The sunny beaches of Spain are still as attractive as ever for those exploring overseas property options. Investors are offered value for money, strong rental demand, a good quality of life and safe long-term investment prospects.

Similarly to France, over a third of Britons buying abroad are looking at Spain, a steady level of high interest which has only fluctuated marginally in the last five years. The country has struggled economically since the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, but falling property prices has boosted its popularity with British house-hunters.

Mark Bodega, director at HiFX said: “While there may be some concern that France is falling behind the rest of the eurozone in terms of economic growth, borrowing costs have tumbled in recent months and mortgage rates are at their lowest in years, meaning that France is currently a real buyers’ market at the moment – and will be for some time.

“Spain is undoubtedly a popular holiday destination and a vibrant property hub for Britons buying abroad. Not only does a Spanish home come with the promise of sunshine, great food and beautiful views, it’s also been enviably cheap to buy property since the 2008 financial crisis, with house prices falling 40-50% nationally.

“However, we’re finally seeing signs that the housing slump is on the road to recovery. Property prices declined just -0.2% month on month from December to January this year, compared to -8.3% in January last year and some parts of the country are actually seeing price rises. With this, property will become far more sought after over the next few years. Budding investors would do well to take advantage of Madrid and Valencia, where property prices are on the rise.”

 

 

Across The Pond

 

Last year’s Property Hotspots Report identified the USA as a future front runner for British property investment, a trend which has resonated well. Long considered the land of opportunity, 7% of those buying abroad are currently looking in the USA, up from 5% last year and just 2% the year before.

Following a double-dip recession in 2011, property prices fell down to levels previously seen mid-2002, leaving them lower than their 2006 peak, but creating an attractive draw for British house-hunters.

Mark Bodega said: “The USA has it all, and we’re not surprised to see that it’s growing in popularity among British house hunters. For those looking for a summer getaway, the sunshine state of Florida has boasted a 50% fall in house prices in recent years, and for winter fun, Aspen in Colorado has seen a 20% dip.

“We’ve seen the pound level out against the dollar this year, but low costs, high rent demand and low taxation on property means that investing in the States is a popular choice among Britons.”

 

 

Ones To Watch

 

The close proximity of continental holiday destinations means that Britons are spoilt for choice in Europe. Switzerland has grown in popularity in recent years, with interest levels equivalent to those now seen in the USA.

Since 2011, enquiries on Swiss investments have more than doubled, with 7%  of those looking to buy abroad now exploring options there. The lake-side shores of Geneva and vibrant city of Zurich are increasingly popular for both summer holiday makers and winter-sports adventurers, offering close proximity to Austrian and French slopes, and the mountains creating a suntrap during the summer months. 

However, since the Swiss franc’s recent surge in value following action by the SNB, ski property there has become considerably more expensive to foreign buyers. The pound against the Swiss franc has dropped from 1.55 in mid-January to 1.46, making a 250,000 Swiss franc ski property almost £10,000 more expensive. 

Mark Bodega said:  “This year is going to be one to watch for property investment abroad. With April’s pension reforms coming in to play, we’ll see a new group of investors emerging and with the pound in a strong position, now is the time to buy abroad.”