Almost half a million Britons own a holiday home overseas. British buyers had helped to fuel a global property boom, but even in the most popular hotspots of southern France and central Italy it has come to a stuttering halt. For some it’s still an affordable luxury but for others it has turned into a financial drain due to the falling price of property around the world and the falling value of the pound. However, with sterling rallying slightly and many holiday home owners looking to sell – maybe this could be your time.
More than a third of all holiday homes owned by Britons are in Spain. The Spanish property crash, created by the massive overdevelopment of the 1990s, has meant that many properties have had their asking prices slashed by up to 40%. Current hotspots for Spanish bargains include Playa Marques (in Almeria), two-bedroom flats in Desert Springs (Europe’s only desert golf course), Jerez (on the Costa de la Luz) and for rural fincas, Mazarron (on the Costa Calida). Cheap property in the country may be available for some time as many experts believe that the Spanish property market will be the last in Europe to recover.
In many parts of France, the French are selling their traditional houses to Britons so that they can move into new-builds. This is particularly true of Brittany where locals are opting for newly-built bungalows. There is also good value to be had from buying from Britons who are heading back to the UK. Properties in traditional holiday home hotspots have fallen by around 20% from their peak and Britons in the southwest of the country are willing to drop the asking price substantially because the weak pound will cushion the blow for vendors selling in Euros.
Italy appears to have suffered a similar slump (of around 20%) in house prices as the UK, although it is difficult to tell as most Italians seem to be hanging on to their houses until the market improves. With its rustic charm with a modern twist, Tuscany remains one of the best places to buy a second home. There are still plenty of rundown traditional buildings in need of some tender loving care, and in addition to this, as with France, there are Brits selling up and heading for home.
Properties on the Algarve, a long-time favourite with British buyers, have held their prices fairly well, especially in established resorts such as Vale de Lobo. There are bargains to be had though in locations such as the Lagos Panoramo, where newly completed flats are priced at 20% below the bank valuation (from £242,000).
After falls of up to 60% since the US housing crash began in 2005, house prices have just seen their first modest rise (1%) in the second quarter of 2009. Holiday homes in Cane Island, ten minutes from Disney World now start at around £125,700, which is 54% below the original sale price in 2005.