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resort-focused areas are served by relatively few direct fl ights outside of the summer holiday season. Mainland Spain remains a hot favourite, for example, because of the great selection of cheap fl ights to choose between if heading to Alicante or Malaga, on top of the lifestyle and low property prices. France also remains very popular for all the timeless lifestyle and cultural reasons, but access is also a signifi cant factor because many families who are camping or doing winter sports prefer to drive there rather than fl y. So weigh up the cost (and time) of travelling to

somewhere with low property prices versus a more accessible location with higher prices. If you are moving somewhere for several months of the year – a genuine second home – then consider how a location alters at different times of the year – or out of season. You might prefer a town that operates fully twelve months a year (consider the popularity of Palma in Mallorca with retirees and ‘snowbirds’ over the island’s other towns). But also consider cost of living, tax (usually more in cities than rural areas; and greater in well- established markets than emerging areas), and the sort of people who will be living around you. Visit at different times of year to determine this. Finally, how important are cultural ties?

Lettings not lifestyle? If you are buying to gain a return on your investment and this is the overriding priority then you will need to research the best properties to produce cash. There are essentially three major ways it might

So weigh up the cost (and time) of travelling to somewhere with low property prices versus a more accessible location with higher prices.

do this: capital appreciation, capital gains by adding value – by improving or extending a property – and earning income (rental returns). Emerging or depressed markets will generally offer greater capital appreciation, because you are buying before the top of the market has been attained. But whilst there tends to be greater risk involved in investing in an emerging market, depressed markets may not recover for a few years: take Spain’s current and longest property downturn. Recent history has taught us to look at the long-term view, not instant profi t.

The global downturn has deterred many risk-

adverse investors from the so-called emerging nations of Eastern Europe, Central America or North Africa, especially when prices in well-established yet struggling eurozone economies are relatively low. Investors will also analyse tourist growth, occupancy levels in rental properties, management costs as well as infrastructure changes, airlift and transport improvements over the long term. For rental income, city lets can be lucrative, as can popular beach resorts and golf communities. We’ve mentioned the tendency for non-professional

investors to be less risk-averse yet smart buyers will consider risk and exit strategy, with risk meaning whether a country is a so-called “safe” place to invest in terms of buying-process transparency, land ownership and title issues. Exit strategy means asking how easily will you be able to sell on your home, when, and to whom? How wide is the market for it internationally, and is there strong domestic demand? Recent events have shown that markets that serve both – take Florida, Mallorca and the Cote D’Azur, for example – have fared much better than areas reliant upon one nationality.


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