Confidence returning to overseas property market

 08 April 2010

There’s a growing feeling of confidence amongst prospective overseas property buyers, according to Conti, the overseas mortgage specialist. 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 per cent 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 per cent, and historically low interest rates are making it much more affordable, despite the current strength of the euro.

Clare Nessling, Conti’s Operations Director, says:

“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.

“Confidence is definitely growing, but there’s also an element of buyers snapping up bargains in traditional hotspots while they have the chance.”

Beating the poor exchange rate

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 says:

“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.”

There are a number of other benefits associated with euro mortgages. If, for example, an investor is going to rent out their property, having a euro mortgage means that their rental income and mortgage repayments are in the same currency, and they can therefore avoid exchange rate fluctuations.

A euro mortgage also allows them to benefit from European interest rates, which are often lower than sterling rates. Even a small difference could potentially save them a lot over the lifetime of the mortgage. The fees on some euro loans can also be substantially lower than on some sterling mortgages.

Overseas Mortgages

Conti is the UK's leading overseas mortgage specialist, providing finance for purchasing holiday homes, investment and retirement properties in more than 45 countries, and re-financing for any purpose in 15 of those countries.

All mortgage applications are processed and underwritten by Conti’s teams of specialists, who know the exact mortgage application requirements for each overseas lender. It can also ensure that clients are put in touch with specialists in the country in question, to enable then to comply fully with planning and legal conditions and assist with currency exchange.