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Ambitious property buyers hoping to pick up European bargains

17th April 2012 Print

The ongoing sovereign debt crisis is doing little to deter ambitious home buyers as Spain and France remain the firm favorites for those seeking to buy a place in the sun. The new Property Hotspots Report from currency specialists HiFX, reveals the top destinations for property abroad as voted by UK adults. 

France and Spain

France tops the list, with over a third (35%) of buyers looking to own a property across the Channel. Mark Bodega, Director at HiFX said: "France remains a ‘safe bet' for Brits. It goes without saying that the sun and lifestyle are a big pull but buyers are now also able to get better value for their money and take advantage of the weakening euro."

Nearby Spain is also continuing to lure home buyers in spite of recent turmoil and the newly imposed austerity measures announced in their recent Budget. Mark Bodega added: "Spain continues to attract Brits who are hoping to take advantage of depressed property prices.  The average property price in the country is down almost 30 per cent since the market peaked in 2007, yet while there are discounts to be had buyers need to pick carefully. The macroeconomic outlook remains poor, and because of this, we are unlikely to see any further stabilisation in the current housing market.  Buyers should remember that Spain is in a precarious position, not so much due to the weight of her sovereign debt compared to GDP, but due to the high levels of private debt and an extremely weak housing market.  PM Rajoy's recent ‘very, very austere budget' will only result in further strikes and unrest which could well lead Spain deeper into a self-fulfilling downward spiral."

The report further revealed that a quarter of Brits (25%) believe it is cheaper to own / run a property abroad than in the UK.  However whilst prices are cheap in Spain, potential property owners should be warned that further depreciation in property is still likely and will affect any future returns. Mark Bodega added:  "The recent gains made by the Pound against the Euro can be felt throughout Europe but Spain and Portugal have also seen costs and prices fall for a variety of goods and commodities unlike other parts of the Eurozone, notably Italy.  We advise buyers looking to pick up a bargain in these countries to do their research and take on board the risk of buying in economically uncertain times before making any important decisions."

Top destinations for UK adults looking to buy a property abroad

France 35%
Spain 16%
USA 8%
Australia 6%
New Zealand 6%
Germany 4%
Italy 4%
Sun, sea, sand and sangria

The Property Hotspots Report shows that capital growth is not at the forefront of people's minds when buying abroad and that the core appeal of continental Europe hasn't changed as Brits remain attracted to the popular formula of sun, sea, sand and sangria.  The research found that three-quarters (74%) of Brits rated lifestyle as the most appealing factor, closely followed by the weather (66%), only 6% of Brits were looking to obtain solid rental returns.

USA, Australia and New Zealand

The report also revealed that whilst some buyers are keen to stick with what they know, recent events in the eurozone have in fact boosted the appeal of property hotspots further a field.  Brits are now setting their sights on other English-speaking countries including USA, Australia and New Zealand as their ideal destination.  Mark Bodega said: "Brits are turning their attention across the pond as signs of US recovery are beginning to become more apparent. There are bargains to be had but Brits looking to buy a US property as an investment need to focus on areas where the rental demand is strong and where taxation on property is low".