Confidence growing in overseas property market

It’s just had its busiest month for almost a year in terms of mortgage ‘go aheads’, the point where prospective buyers take their mortgage quotes through to the application stage. These increased by 48% during March, compared with the previous monthly average.

The proportion of prospective buyers progressing from the quote stage to the go ahead stage has also increased, suggesting that buyers are becoming more serious about their intended investment.

Despite the turbulence unleashed on the UK mortgage market by the global banking crisis, Conti says that overseas mortgage providers have a healthy appetite for lending to foreign investors. But a combination of factors, not just mortgage availability, are contributing to the attractiveness of this market. Falling property prices, in some cases by up to 50%, and historically low interest rates are making it much more affordable, despite the current strength of the euro.

Clare Nessling, Conti’s operations director, said: “Falling property prices across many European destinations mean that the chance of owning a place in the sun may never be better, and historically low interest rates mean it’s become even more affordable for British buyers. The most popular destinations amongst our clients are still France and Spain, both of which come with easy access and good rental opportunities. Turkey is also popular, as it offers some great property prices and all the benefits of its Mediterranean location, minus the effects of the strong euro.“

According to Conti, an increasing number of British investors buying second homes in Europe are taking out euro-denominated mortgages in order to beat the poor exchange rate. This not only allows them to take advantage of cheap interest rates, but could potentially save them significant sums of money if, as experts predict, sterling appreciates against the euro over the next few years, as this will reduce the sterling cost of the property purchase.

Clare Nessling said: “A euro mortgage could be a good idea, even if you thought you didn't need one. As you'll only need to transfer money for your deposit and fees for now, it minimises the amount of sterling you have to exchange for the property purchase. Even if you’re lucky enough to be a cash buyer, it may be worth taking out a mortgage until the exchange rate improves, at which point you can pay it back, and ultimately reduce the price you pay for the property.”