It is a dream of thousands of Brits – to buy a second home in a picturesque spot in France and wile away hot summers converting a dilapidated barn into the perfect home in the sun.
But there are signs that many are abandoning their plans to buy a plot over the Channel as the economic downturn hits the second home market. And the situation has become so bad that some second home-owners wanting to sell up in France have had their properties on the market for as long as three years, according to agents. Experts say the overseas property market could be down by as much as 40 per cent on last year.
Brits spent about GBP 24bn on overseas property last year but that is expected to see a big fall this year. Mark Bishop, a columnist with A Place in the Sun magazine, warned that the market was down between "35 and 40 per cent year-on-year". "People buying pure holiday homes are less likely to feel comfortable with discretionary spending in the current economic climate," he said.
So instead of France, some investors are now looking further afield to secure a bargain. Places previously considered too politically volatile or far away are starting to attract British buyers. Thailand, Bulgaria and Venezuela are some of the destinations seeing increased interest from Brits. "Opportunities to make capital gains in so-called `emerging markets` has accelerated this phenomenon," said Mr Bishop. "Countries such as Turkey, Cape Verde and Cyprus are growing in popularity among buyers wanting some personal use of holiday properties, while pure investors are purchasing increasingly in the EU accession states, the Caribbean and elsewhere."
Bargain in Bulgaria - A home for GBP 100,000
Bulgaria may not have been top of the list for second homes over the years, and the European Commission`s concerns over rampant corruption in the country cannot have inspired confidence among would-be investors. But it is one of the locations benefiting as investors begin to search out emerging property markets as the potential for making a profit in more traditional markets evaporates. A miserly GBP 116,000 would buy you a three-bedroom villa on the Black Sea Coast, complete with open-plan kitchen, a large garden and three bathrooms. It may not be in the land of wine and cheese, but it is just down the road from Varna, a seaside resort and one of Europe`s oldest cities.
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