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Revealed: why Brits are still keen to purchase abroad

Despite the uncertainty caused by the global pandemic and the UK’s departure from the European Union, the international property market shows no signs of slowing down. As the world settles into its new normal, Jana Korpova-Harris, director of growth at Property Guides, explores why Brits have not been deterred from investing abroad.

2020 has been a turbulent year. The UK is preparing to officially leave the EU on December 31, and we have been battling a global pandemic. However, this hasn’t hampered Brits’ desire to purchase property abroad, with the number of people looking to invest overseas continuing to rise.

In fact, despite the ongoing health crisis, nearly three-quarters of those looking to buy in Spain are doing so for health reasons, with many seeking a more active lifestyle in the sunshine.

A change in pace is also motivating those seeking a home in France, with nearly 70% agreeing that a new adventure is the main driver for investment, suggesting that Brits recognise that the impacts of both Brexit and coronavirus will be temporary, and remain undeterred.

Where to buy

France and Spain’s popularity hasn’t waned and both countries represent strong investment opportunities for British buyers. Our research shows that almost three-quarters of prospective buyers wanting to invest in Spain favour the south-east coast, between Dénia on the North Costa Blanca and Gibraltar.

This is no surprise following significant investment in the region and the arrival of its new airport in 2017, making access to the area easier than ever before. What’s more, with crisp Mediterranean beaches, warm winters and no shortage of things to do all year round, the area represents a perfect spot for those seeking a new lifestyle in a warmer climate.

In neighbouring France, the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, known for its prestigious vineyards and picturesque landscape, is the most desirable amongst international buyers. Brits also have a keen interest in the North-West regions of Brittany and Normandy, driven by ultra-low borrowing rates and the vast amount of properties up for sale, particularly in the countryside.

Elsewhere in Europe, Portugal presents one of the strongest property markets in the world following the country’s efficient handling of the pandemic and is one of only a handful of countries that is expected to see a rise in property prices this year. With stunning new-builds reaching completion along the Algarve each month, it’s no surprise that this region remains amongst the most sought-after in Europe.

What to buy

The desire for a new lifestyle is also reflected in the most sought-after property types on the market right now. For example, golf properties are increasing in popularity, despite the number of people taking up the sport declining. These types of properties often include a host of wellness facilities, such as gyms, spas and pools, which allow Brits to benefit from a lifestyle that is not easily achieved in the UK.

Our research suggests that this is a trend across the continent. For example, in Spain, more than half of investors favour detached villas, whilst in France, country cottages are the top choice. These property types provide privacy and tranquillity, delivering the change in pace that investors are striving for.

How to buy

With international travel beginning to resume, our data shows that more than one in 10 have already rebooked viewings abroad. However, for those not ready to fly again yet, or for those looking to purchase in areas that are currently experiencing increased travel restrictions, such as Spain, agents are offering virtual viewings to give prospective buyers a real-time view of properties from the comfort of their homes.

Online events, like the Your Overseas Home webinar series, also offer buyers the opportunity to meet with multiple agents, developers and other property specialists without needing to leave the house.

When to buy

Economies across the world have been hit hard by coronavirus. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad time to invest. In fact, our research suggests that nearly half of investors are purchasing property with savings, meaning they are unlikely to be impacted by volatile markets.

However, for those who are relying on the revenue from the sale of a property back home, it is important to be aware of any fluctuations in the UK property market as this may hamper the ability to buy abroad until the market recovers.

Brexit is another factor weighing heavily on many investor’s minds. We know that more than 20% of prospective buyers are looking to invest as soon as possible, suggesting that many are feeling the pressure to purchase before the UK severs ties with the EU.

However, this is unlikely to cause any major issues with residency. Currently other third-country nationals can secure a visa if their income equates to or exceeds the local minimum wage, a scheme that Brits are likely to benefit from post-Brexit.

In addition, for those looking to buy in Portugal, the country offers golden visas, which permit residency to anyone investing in a property worth €500,000 or more.

Jana Korpova-Harris is the director of growth at Property Guides, a trusted resource for overseas buyers for over ten years which helps would-be homeowners to navigate the often lengthy and complicated process of buying abroad.

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