By Roy Weatherby, The Overseas Investor
Property has become one of the most popular forms of investment, with many buyers looking to search internationally to find the best deals. However, the problem with looking for property deals globally is that it can be hard to narrow things down to a single location and market.
Europe contains home to many of the most popular destinations for international property investment. These offer very different markets, and equally varied sets of advantages that serve to make their properties attractive to investors.
Beside the Seaside
Beach destinations are always among the most popular with tourists and wealthy expatriates. This suits investors who want to pick up tourist lets or residences of the kind that might appeal to expats in search of a more pleasant place to live. Easy beach access is also a nice asset for those who want to use their property as a second home and rely on capital appreciation as their sole source of returns.
Lisbon in Portugal has been named among the most desirable places to own a second home, and is similarly popular with tourists. However, it is Portugal's bigger neighbour Spain remains one of Europe's true hard-hitters when it comes to beach holiday destinations, and is a definite favourite among UK buyers. Heading offshore, Ibiza remains one of the most prominent Spanish islands with a combination of beaches and world-class nightlife attracting many outgoing younger tourists from around the world.
In some ways the polar opposite of beach holiday destinations, winter sport resorts are also significant and growing tourist draws. The growth of sports such as skiing and snowboarding is leading more and more people to head to snowy mountaintops to brave the slopes and the cold weather. This is creating greater numbers of opportunities for investors, and potentially making those opportunities more lucrative.
The St Moritz resort in Switzerland is one of Europe's prime skiing and winter sport locations, and for investors the attractions of the resort are strengthened by the fact that Switzerland is currently one of Europe's top-performers in property. After the Swiss Franc was unpegged from the Euro, prices surged. Things have since cooled, but continued growth is nonetheless forecast. Alternatively, Austria's Alberg region is another popular winter sport destination which is held to have a lot of potential.
Investors who want to take a potentially riskier approach in search of better returns tend to favour properties in areas that have recently dipped but seem to be on the rise. If indications of recovery in these regions prove accurate and things continue to pick up, these investors hope to benefit from significant and comparatively rapid appreciation on the value of properties which have, at present, fallen to rock-bottom prices.
Once again, Spain is a stand-out example. The country was hit hard by the recession and values tumbled, but now the market in major cities and tourist resorts such as Barcelona and Marbella seems to be picking up after prolonged difficulties. Another destination proving popular with this type of investor at present is the Dordogne region of France. A popular destination with tourists and home to a number of foreign residents from around the world, some parts of the region have seen prices fall by 40-50% since their peak. Some investors believe that things will turn around, and are picking up properties while prices stay low.