Excellent buying conditions have lured Britons back into the overseas property market this year, with bargain property prices and historically low mortgage rates making it more affordable than ever.
The biggest boost has been the increasing value of the pound against the euro, which is effectively lopping tens of thousands of pounds off property prices in the eurozone.
And buyers, full of fresh optimism, are returning in their droves. Our enquiries have shot up by 37% so far this year, compared with 2013.
When you compare the cost of a place in the sun with overheated parts of the UK market, you can see why. Confidence is back.
Spain is well and truly back on the map. It accounted for 51% of enquiries at Conti over January to September 2014, with mortgage enquiries up 95% over just one year.
After a turbulent few years in the eye of the eurozone storm, the economy is showing signs of recovery, tourist numbers are up, and experts are predicting house price increases in 2015.
I expect Spain to maintain this momentum next year as prices recover but remain very affordable.
France remains a firm favourite too. A slower property market has been pushing prices down and owners are therefore more receptive to offers.
With mortgage rates at their lowest in more than 60 years, it’s a buyer’s market. But it could be wise to make a move sooner rather than later, as despite previous predictions of a fall in house prices this year, the FNAIM now believes prices may actually rise 2% to 3%.
I expect mortgage rates to remain at historic lows, however.
These two ‘old favourites’ to remain top of the list next year. Not only are they safe, familiar and easily accessible, they offer good rental opportunities and capital appreciation over the long term.
And with Goldman Sachs predicting that sterling will continue to climb against the euro over the next three years, British buyers will quite simply have more buying power, making a bolt hole in the sun even more tempting.
Portugal is also one to watch. Its property market was one of the worst hit by the financial crisis, but with its economy on a much sounder footing, buyers are returning.
I expect it to perform well next year as lending conditions continue to improve.
Turkey is also steadily rising in popularity. It boasts a strong tourism industry, excellent property values, and rising demand for rental properties.
It’s also growing in popularity as a retirement destination, given far lower living costs than the UK.
Although it’s not in the eurozone, it’s still possible to obtain euro–denominated mortgages and reap the benefits of the strong pound.
It’s a great time to consider the overseas mortgage market as a lucrative new revenue stream. We’re currently registering around 60 new brokers every month, and many who come to us following a single client enquiry have been surprised at how easy the process is and are actively seeking more overseas opportunities.
It can be an easy earner for you too: we handle the case while you earn valuable commission.
*Clare Nessling is director at Conti, the overseas mortgage specialist.