France named as top overseas country for British second home buyers

France offers full package for Brits

France has overtaken Spain as the most popular country in the world for British people buying a second home abroad as two survey puts it in the top spot.

France is the first choice for Brits buying abroad with Spain in second place and Portugal pipping Turkey to the post for third place, according to the latest overseas property ‘hot spots’ report compiled by Conti, the overseas mortgage specialist.

The country is top of the list for the third year running, with a 39% share of mortgage enquiries received by the company this year. Spain is in second place with 31%, Portugal with 12% and Turkey on 11%.

‘There’s no doubt that France offers the full package for British buyers such as easy access, competitive prices, good rental returns and a stable property market. It also offers the most finance options and best available rates in Europe, and it’s this vital combination of factors which are making it so popular,’ said Clare Nessling, Conti’s operations director.

‘But Spain is definitely making a comeback, experiencing a particularly busy August. This could be due to the holiday season coming to a close, with trips to Spain this summer inspiring many of us to buy our own place in the sun,’ she added.

Research from Savills International and also puts France in top position thanks to its perception of stability, limited house price decline and ease of access helping to make it a safe bet for UK buyers.

Traditional prime property hotspots which attract wealthy, lifestyle buyers have been more resilient to the downturn. They include selected areas of southern France, the Alps, Portugal’s Algarve region, Italy and high-end locations in Spanish islands such as Mallorca. Cash rich, high spend buyers have maintained the robust property values achieved in top holiday home destinations today.

When choosing where to invest, UK buyers are most influenced by factors such as proximity to restaurants and bars, beaches, and being in easy reach of airports to reduce travel time. Most buyers have bought in destinations with extensive tourism infrastructure including cultural and historical attractions, golf courses, beaches and children’s entertainment.

In France, Italy and Switzerland, buyers have typically opted for older, traditional style properties, while in the US and Cyprus, and also albeit to a lesser extent in Spain and Portugal, investors have tended to buy more modern properties. This reflects the volume of new build development in these locations.

Holiday home owners like outdoor living, reflected in their preference for balconies and terraces with their properties. Buyers like the modern conveniences of their primary home to be available in their holiday homes. Internet connection is on the rise, particularly in long haul destinations. Air conditioning is in half of properties and 80% of home owners have access to either a private or shared swimming pool.

More than half, 55%, of respondents said that income generated from letting their property partially covered costs, helping them to mitigate against current global economic conditions. Almost a third of respondents said that rental income completely covered their costs and 13% indicated it made them a comfortable profit. Over one in 20 holiday homes generated in excess of £30,000 per annum.

‘Clearly, holiday home owners and tourists share similar preferences for overseas properties. Strong underlying lifestyle demand for a property helps to support an investment case. It is these fundamentals that drive longer term capital appreciation and attract rental income,’ said Rebecca Gill, research analyst at Savills International and the author of the report.

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