Photo: Bert Kaufmann
Overseas buyers are heading back to Italy and France, reveals new research from TheMoveChannel.com. The portal’s Q4 2015 Hotspots Index saw Rome remain the most searched-for location in the world in the final months of the year. This is the third consecutive quarter that Rome has held the number one spot.
Italy’s rebound in popularity has been building throughout 2015, thanks to the country’s strong lifestyle appeal, which has been amplified by the weak euro. Favourable exchange rates have fuelled demand for all of Europe’s traditional property hotspots, with Spain and Portugal in particular stealing the limelight. Now, though, the tide may be about to change.
Portugal’s share of searches on TheMoveChannel.com reduced for the first time in Q4 2015, accounting for 11 of the Top 50 locations in the portal’s Hotspots Index. Interest remains high for Portuguese property, with the country accounting for four of the Top 10 locations. Indeed, Ponta Delgada rose 11 places in Q3 2015 to storm into the Top 10. It rose one more place in Q4 2015 to seize the second spot with 1.31 per cent of all location searches. Ericeira (1.21 per cent), though, slipped into fourth place, as Fiji’s Lautoka (1.27 per cent) overtook to take third.
Spain, despite accounting for eight locations in the Top 50 (up from seven in Q3 2015), saw Malaga slide into ninth place with 0.83 per cent. Cyprus and Greece, meanwhile, fell out of the Top 10 altogether, as buyers swapped their economically uncertain markets for old favourites.
Buyers have also returned to France in greater numbers, with the country entering the Top 10 for the first time in Q4 2015. Lyon raced 12 places up the chart to become the sixth most searched-for location (1.06 per cent), followed by Paris, which rocketed 28 places up the chart to become the seventh most popular location (1.02 per cent). Italy completed the Top 10 with another new entrant: Terni, the fifth most popular location in Q4 2015.
“The weak euro has been the defining story of 2015, sending buyers from overseas – particularly the UK and the USA – flooding into Europe’s property markets to snap up available opportunities. While Portugal and Spain have dominated demand for the majority of the year, France and Italy are starting to steal the show, their relatively stable markets stealing house-hunters away from the more uncertain bargain zones of Greece and Cyprus.
“France’s record low mortgage rates mean that real estate in the country is more affordable than it ever has been, especially in comparison to rising UK house prices. You would expect to see Paris in the Top 10 most searched-for locations in the world, so it is revealing that the French capital is now taking its rightful place in the Hotspots Index.
“Italy’s economy underperformed in Q3 2015, with growth reducing from 0.3 per cent to 0.2 per cent, while house price declines are gradually slowing, but the favourable exchange rate has kept the sentiment broadly upbeat among investors. Indeed, the country now accounts for 11 of the Top 50 locations on TheMoveChannel.com, neck-and-neck with previous champion Portugal.”
Italy’s property market has enjoyed a steady flow of returning buyers from overseas, as the exchange rate between the pound and the euro favours British buyers, who remain enchanted by the country’s dolce vita. The renaissance of interest has been driven by major cities, such as Rome and Florence, according to the Italian revenue agency.
The Algarve has always been the most in-demand part of Portugal, thanks to the region’s stunning beaches and investment potential, but hotspots such as Ponta Delgada in the autonomous region of Azores, demonstrate how widespread demand for Portuguese property has become.
The second largest city in the island country of Fiji, Lautoka isn’t a must-visit destination on the tourist path, but at just a 30-minute drive from Nadi, the sugar-farming hub is a picturesque place to hang your hat.
While Faro remains the most popular part of Portugal for British holiday home buyers, Lisbon has proven more sought-after among non-EU buyers seeking citizenship through a Golden Visa. The rise of places such as Ericeira highlights both the success and impact of the scheme.
Italy has struggled more than most during the fallout of the global financial crisis, but the country’s evergreen lifestyle appeal has meant that with the euro weakening against the pound, buyers are beginning to return. Located in Umbria, the city is well connected to Rome by train, which means that commuters will often eye up the area for an Italian home, with rental opportunities also attractive due to low prices.
As famous for its food as for its invention of cinema, Lyon has played a huge role in French history. The city’s culture, combined with its lively nightlife and regular festivals, ensure that visitors regularly visit for both business and leisure – a lot of them choose to stay there on a permanent basis.
Paris is one of the most sought-after places in the world for prime real estate, with some reports suggesting up to two-thirds of Parisian property is owned by overseas investors. As UK prices continue to climb, lowering returns, and the euro stays weak, the appeal of Paris, where prices have declined in recent months, is only set to rise.
With all its waterways and historic architecture, Tavira is regarded the Venice of the Algarve’s property market. The southern region of the country has long fuelled the housing market’s recovery, thanks to the strong tourism industry, attractive coastlines and affordable prices. While Tavira has fallen eight places since Q3 2014, it remains one of Portugal’s most sought-after hotspots.
The spending power of British buyers in Spain has risen 15 per cent in the past 12 months, driven by exchange rates between the pound and euro and low Spanish property prices. The Costa del Sol remains the most popular market for Brits, with booming tourist figures and rising values ensuring that buyers do not wait around for long.
Faial Island is one of the Azores islands located to the northwest of Madeira. It only has around 15,000 inhabitants, which could well be part of its appeal to overseas buyers seeking tranquility in addition to Portugal’s myriad other positive assets.
The full Top 50 hotspots on TheMoveChannel.com in Q4 2015 is as follows:
|10||Portugal/Ilha do Faial||0.81%||6|
|19||South Africa/Cape Town||0.63%||New|
|23||Spain/Province of Alicante||0.56%||6|
|26||Portugal/Armacao de Pera||0.55%||0|
|27||Spain/Costa Blanca South||0.54%||5|
|31||Portugal/Vila Nova de Milfontes||0.49%||9|
|32||Spain/Province of Tarragona||0.47%||New|
|36||United Kingdom/Milton Keynes||0.46%||New|
|37||St Kitts and Nevis/Basseterre||0.45%||New|
|48||Spain/Costa Blanca North||0.36%||New|