Buying property abroad is a great way to invest money, while guaranteeing high-quality, stress free holidays. Having your own haven abroad, which can be rented out when you're not there, will give you the chance to visit your favourite region regularly and really get to know it as an, albeit sporadic, resident. There are many factors to consider, such as rental potential, local markets and the future economy but there is lots of advice and support available.
Why buy abroad?
As high quality hotels become increasingly accessible, many may question why they should buy a property abroad. However, with property prices in many areas considerably cheaper than the UK, your getaway could not only be a stable investment throughout the current credit crisis but also a home-from-home only a flight away.
Carlo Walther, head of business development at Rightmove Overseas, has spoken about the US as a prime example of an investor's dream. He explained:
"People have more confidence in the US market than they have in the UK market, which is why investors who would typically buy buy-to-let in the UK are now looking at the US market and particularly at long-term rental properties."
Near, far, here or there?
Then there's the choice. Your family may already have a favourite destination, and with your own house you can secure your own patch of it. However, if you're open-minded and unsure as to where to start, think about whether you want somewhere already established as a second-home destination, or if you want to look towards an emerging market. According to the National Association of Estate Agents, the most popular places for people from the UK to buy are Spain at 27 per cent, followed by France, Florida, Portugal and Italy.
However, it's worth noting that other countries can offer great value for money, with more people looking to alternative regions. For example, potential owners may wish to consider Egypt: the home of great weather, fascinating history and thriving culture. Speaking recently on the issue of foreign property investment, Nick Marr the Chief Executive Officer of HomesGoFast.com explained:
"The property market has remained buoyant for overseas investors despite the problem with Egypt's inflation and this is because low entry prices for investors mean that capital growth is still very realistic."
He added that the country's reputation as a popular tourist spot was being reinforced by properties for sale for under #20,000 - a factor which could interest those looking for a permanent holiday home without the need to take major financial risks. This price category also dramatically reduces the financial risk of the venture.
Ex-pat fun and games
Most countries have a thriving ex-pat community to help you settle down and get the most out of local amenities. Check out websites such as britishexpat.com, which provides links to forums in a variety of countries for relocated Brits. Although a home abroad will give you the chance to really become part of the local culture, having the insider knowledge of those who are already living their full-time is a fantastic back-up, and could lead to new friendships in the sun.
Make it pay
Unless you're considering making the move across the waters permanent, it's important to consider how to make the property pay for itself when you're not there. Renting it out is a great way to make sure you're not losing money, while allowing others to enjoy the benefits of your new abode.
It's a good idea to keep an eye out for emerging markets, if financial reward is your main aim. For example, propertyabroad.com highlights the increasing popularity of rural Australian areas, where the tourism industry was previously focused on urban regions. The advisory service explains: "With more and more visitors to Australia ... becoming more interested in life in rural areas, more apartment units are being developed in smaller communities all of the time. These projects are ripe opportunities for many foreign investors interested in gaining a foothold in the Australian real estate market."
Using an agency can remove the risk of renting privately, and cover you in case anything goes wrong. Nubricks has published advice for those renting out their foreign property, suggesting that owners should "look for a rental specific agent, one that preferably does not sell property, this is a major conflict as more money can be earned from a sale." It is also noted that word of mouth is the best recommendation - another way in which knowing the local expat community can be useful.
Of course, with the security of a house abroad, the only other issue to consider will be comfortable, reasonably priced flights to start your holiday in the best way. It may be worth considering accessibility to the local airport, as a quick transfer can help you make the most of your holiday time. Although regional airports can open up new areas for short breaks, long-haul flights can be a fantastic part of your trip.
Chose a quality airline, or even book business class, so you can relax and wake up at your destination relaxed, refreshed and ready to enjoy your new second-home.