Europe ‘keeping the wolf from the door’

Certain European countries continue to prosper despite the credit crunch, according to Assetz

The credit crunch, as any economic or financial expert will point out, is an international phenomenon. Not just because it started in the US when the subprime market hit the buffers, but because the consequences continue to reverberate even beyond those countries whose banks had their investments directly hit, as credit became harder to obtain.

With countries all over the world affected by the lack of credit, one might imagine that the consequences of this would be major slowdowns in housing and property everywhere. Quite apart from the fact this ignores the variations between the relative strengths of different property markets and overall economies, however, such an assumption would also be incorrect simply because British desires for buying overseas property appear to remain strong.

This point seems to have been borne out by figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) today. Experts with the organisation and its associated companies have provided evidence that in recent months overseas investment has grown rather than being scaled back.

Spain still performing well

Foreign Currency Direct is a prime example of a company whose experience has gone against the trends some might have expected. Spokesman Robin Haynes said: “We’re experiencing a good level of interest at the moment. Overall we saw an 8.2 per cent increase in the number of overseas property transactions in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared with 2006.”

He mentioned Spain as one place that was still performing well, despite a slowdown in the speed at which properties were sold following last year’s negative press. Emphasising that the British are “still in love with the idea of a place on the Costas”, he stated: ” Spain remains the number one destination according to enquiries through our portal Indeed, we sent more payments to Spain in 2007 than in 2006.”

Financial services company Baydonhill also predicted good times ahead for several countries, with spokesperson Vanessa Bird listing France , Portugal and Cyprus among the locations with good prospects.

France and Cyprus have ‘advantages’

Individual countries, of course, will have their peculiar advantages which will counteract any negative credit crunch impacts. Northern France with the advent of the faster Eurostar services and Cyprus now it has adopted the euro are two possible examples of this, while the relentless economic growth of India , credit crunch or not, may provide a third.

Others include Cape Verde, according to property website Buy Association’s overseas property editor Paul Collins, who told the archipelago was “a haven for watersports enthusiasts and beach bums alike”, adding: “There are now direct flights from the UK to Cape Verde eliminating the need to go via Portugal.”

Thus 2008 may yet bring a plethora of exciting and financially rewarding places for investors to buy. What is for sure is that the desire to buy remains as strong as before.