Expat property – what’s hot and what’s not

Buying overseas property as an expat or property investor is a hot topic as home prices are plunging in many of the world’s top destinations.

While economic doom and gloom may be spreading across Europe, life’s not so bad for expats who have the cash to buy or can get by with a small loan or no mortgage.

Upmarket homes in London and New York are profiting as financial havens as the lights go out over Europe.

Spain, Portugal and Cyprus are all gripped in the eurozone crisis – with prices down across the board in all three popular places for Brits in retirement who want to relax in the sun and grab a spot of golf.

Home values have plummeted between an average 25% – 40% from their peak in 2007-08 in each country.

The banks have repossessed swathes of newly built villas and apartments and need to sell to gain cash to shore up their creaking balance sheets.

Prices are faring better in the Spanish islands, but the banks and plenty of hard-pressed owners need to sell and are willing to discuss a deal.

Florida is another magnet for Brits who want to enjoy the sun. The Sunshine State’s property market seems to be bottoming out after three years or more of straight falls.

Like the Latin countries around the Mediterranean, many owners are still facing financial difficulties and prices are about as low as many realtors in Miami and Orlando expect them to get.

Some real estate firms are even running bankrupt buses to take property investors on trips around foreclosed homes in a desperate bid to close a sale.

Looking further east, property prices in the desert emirate of Dubai are also showing some signs of bouncing back. Keenly priced apartments in swish glass and steel high rises are attracting a lot of interest after shedding around a third in value during the downturn.

Turkey prices are stable, with some signs of rises in holiday resorts. Soon to enter the European Union, the Turkish economy is faring better than many others bordering the Med.

Further away, many of the Asia Pacific property markets are still running hot, but government action is putting the brakes on speculators sinking their cash in to apartments for quick profits.

The markets in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia are all showing signs of slowing as tough government policies restricting new building and loans start to bite.

“Wherever you look around the world, property markets are trading at way below where they were at the height of the property bubble,” said Fred Brown of

“This is bad for sellers but good for buyers. Plenty of bargains are out there for cash buyers, although borrowers looking for a mortgage will find loans few and far between as the banks recover from their past excesses.

“Florida and Dubai look ready to turn the corner and may see some modest price rises in the coming months. Spain, Portugal and Cyprus probably have some money to lose, while the far east is uncertain.”

According to Mr. Brown the time is ripe for buying overseas property. The markets will rise, he suggests, and some profits are there for the taking.

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