British buyers seeking bargain properties in hard hit European countries, research suggests

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UK buyers searching for bargains in recession hit Euro countries

Thousands of Brits are searching for bargain properties in European countries that have suffered in the economic downturn such as Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, it is claimed.

New research from the website Primelocation reveals that between August 2009 and August 2010 the number of searches by Brits for properties in these countries increased by 134%. It believes they are looking to take advantage of the economic difficulties in these countries to find cheap holiday homes.

Spain saw the highest growth in interest at 145.7% followed by Portugal at 123.9%, Italy at 98.9%, Greece at 55.3% and Ireland at 44.1%.

‘The economic difficulties in these countries have been well documented and they have contributed towards a huge surge of activity in Brits searching for properties in these markets,’ said Ann Wright, international development manager at Primelocation.

She points out though that although property prices in these countries fell sharply when the scale of the difficulties facing them first surfaced, the decline in prices since has been less severe. ‘In the case of properties in the Mediterranean they have held up well as demand from overseas buyers remains strong,’ she added.

Analysis of industry data by Primelocation reveals that prices fell sharply in these countries at the start of their financial crises.  In Greece for example, property prices fell by 6.3% between the middle of 2008 and the first three months of 2010.  In Spain, property prices were down 9.45% in the third quarter of 2009 when compared to March 2008.

However, as demand from overseas buyers remains strong, the average property price in Portugal was up 2.9% in the second quarter of 2010 when compared to a year earlier.

Ireland is a less popular destination for overseas buyers, which in part explains why in the first quarter of 2010 house prices were down 18.9% year on year.  A recent study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said prices would have to fall by over 50% to bring them back in line with average household income.

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