Developments in the UK and Eurozone economies have paved the way for a big boost in British buyers overseas according to OverseasGuidesCompany.com
Their latest Quarterly Index figures record 16,821 enquiries for buying guides throughout the summer of 2015 – the highest total since the Quarterly Index began and a 53 percent hike on the figures from summer 2014. August was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the busiest month for would-be property buyer enquiries, with 6,917 enquiries received, marking the busiest month in the third quarter and for the whole year.
Spain and France, always the most popular destinations with UK property buyers and expats, made up two thirds of enquiries received, measured in downloads of the individual country buying guides.
Spain cemented its position as the most popular destination, attracting its highest ever share of enquiries, at 37 percent in the third quarter of 2015. Spain was also one of four of the top five destinations to record solid rises compared to both the previous quarter and the same quarter in 2014, also including France, Portugal and Italy. Ireland also emerged as one to watch, following positive growth in the country’s property market and interest in Brits buying property there.
Global Events Have Helped British buyers in Europe
“There is little doubt that the euro’s ongoing weakness throughout 2015 and the increased buying power that this offers British buyers in Europe has driven interest in key European property markets throughout the months of July, August and September,” observes Elaine Ferguson, Head of OverseasGuidesCompany.com. Typically, families and couples enjoying their summer holidays in the Eurozone will have discovered how far their money goes while they were over there, leading them to investigate buying property there and begin their search for an overseas home on their return to the UK.
Record low European Central Bank interest rates and improved access to euro mortgages are also attracting more UK buyers to Spain, France, Portugal and Italy, where property markets are stabilising and improving, slowly but surely.
The pension reforms that kicked in earlier this year could be steering more people of pension age towards an overseas property purchase, using cash freed up from their pension pot, especially given the poor returns currently offered by alternative forms of UK based investments.
It is also likely that the Conservative government’s majority win at the UK General Election in May has contributed to the bullish third quarter, instilling a sense of stability into the UK nation, its economy and housing market – giving British people the confidence to consider spending their money abroad. This explains the contrast to Summer 2014’s unseasonal fall in enquiries, when uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the Scottish Referendum and the resultant weakening of sterling meant that many British people put their overseas buying plans on hold, albeit temporarily.”
Spain Remains The Number One Destination For British Buyers
“Spain is once again crowned the UK nation’s number one destination for buying an overseas home, attracting a record 29.2 million tourists in the first half of 2015; we expect this trend to continue for the second half of the year and to continue to fuel interest in property in this ever-popular country.
The 5,377 Buying Guide downloads during Q3 2015 represented a 98 percent rise compared to last year and meant its share of enquiries grew to 37 percent, compared to 25 percent. The Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol attract the highest level of UK buyers, with prices in desirable, established resorts now stable, or beginning to rise.”
Increase in interest for ever-popular France
Second only to Spain, enquiries for France totalled 4,165 for Q3, giving a 29 percent share of all enquiries. Compared to the same period last year, this represents a rise of 62 percent.
“A recent report from the Notaires de France shows a downward trend in property prices across France – for British buyers, this provides the opportunity of a bargain, and rustic character homes remain very good value,” comments Tamsin Roser, Country Specialist for FranceBuyingGuide.com.
Portugal shows continued promise
In third place, Portugal drew 1,894 downloads in Q3, representing an 83 percent year-on-year increase. “The Algarve remains the key property buying area for Portugal and interest is likely to get stronger with the recent launch of new billion-euro phases of development in Vilamoura,” comments Laura Richards, Country Specialist for PortugalBuyingGuide.com. “The country’s favourable tax system, including its Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) scheme, is also a major attraction for foreign buyers.”
Italy still of interest
Enquiries for Italy rose 34 percent in Q3 compared to the same period last year, reaching 1,423. Recent reports have shown that the cost of living in and owning a luxury property in Italy have come down over the past year, with a focus on home-grown, local produce, rather than a reliance on the traditionally more touristy areas, so it will be interesting to see if Italy’s popularity with British buyers continues to improve.
UK buyers still considering the merits of USA property
Enquiries for the USA fell 14 percent in Q3 compared to Q3 2014, but rose slightly on the previous quarter. This year-on-year fall is likely to be as a result of the strengthening of the US dollar against sterling – over the summer of 2014, the rate hit £1/$1.70 last July, while this summer it struggled to reach over £1/$1.56. The ongoing favourable sterling-euro relationship has also made Europe the biggest draw for British property buyers.
Ireland – one to watch…
Meanwhile, the number of enquiries for Ireland was almost level with those for the USA in Q3, thanks to a significant 51 percent year-on-year hike. The combination of the weak euro with a housing market on the rise has attracted more buyers to Ireland, including Irish nationals who reside in the UK and wish to get their hands on property on the Emerald Isle before they are out-priced.