Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Money Travels; in 1999 Only Five per Cent of the Homes Bought Abroad Were for Investment. Today It Is 60 per Cent Discovers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Money Travels; in 1999 Only Five per Cent of the Homes Bought Abroad Were for Investment. Today It Is 60 per Cent Discovers

Article excerpt

Byline: LORNA BOURKE

SO, WHO buys property abroad and where? Wealthy bankers wanting a beach house in the South of France? Businessmen looking for a retirement home next to a golf course in Spain? No.

According to property law firm John Howell & Partners, the proportion of clients who buy abroad primarily as an investment has shot up from a meagre five per cent in 1999 to 60 per cent this year.

During the same five years, the number of people buying overseas for their immediate or imminent retirement has fallen from 60 per cent to just 15 per cent. And the countries targeted by buyers have changed, too.

"Higher prices and the perception of better investment potential have driven many buyers from Spain and Portugal to Eastern Europe and beyond," says John Howell.

This switch from buyers looking for retirement homes to pure investment is confirmed by James Stephens of IPN Castello, a property firm that operates in Italy, mainly Tuscany and Umbria.

"People have been scared out of conventional investments like shares, so they are looking to property," he says. "Even if a house in Italy doesn't increase in value much, they have a usable asset and great lifestyle.

"People see a property in Italy rather like buying a work of art. Italy is the museum of the world, and although other areas may be cheaper, demand for properties in Italy is constant."

Stephens also reports an increase in demand from buyers of all ages who want to live in Italy and can work online from their foreign home. If they do have to go back to England for meetings, cheap flights on Ryanair make it cost-effective to commute.

The strong euro and weak dollar have meant less demand from US buyers, though. Stephens says that this has been exacerbated by the fact that "the Italians are trying to squeeze the pips out of the orange". …

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