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The Most Popular Places to Buy Property In Europe

The property price is right

Before the coronavirus crisis, perhaps you were considering moving abroad. Whether you’ve thought about looking for a holiday home, investment property, a place to live permanently when emigrating, or a retirement destination in Europe, the strength of the real estate market and currency exchange rates can play a vital part in your decision.

Halo Financial highlights five important countries within the European housing market – Spain, Portugal, UK, France and Italy – and provides Eurostat data about how property prices have fared. We take a look at how each of these housing markets have progressed over the past few years.

The Eurostat House Price Index includes apartments, terraced and detached houses and covers new and resale property data from the 28 European Union member countries.

Spanish Property

It’s easy to see why so many Brits choose to emigrate to Spain with it’s ideal climate and easy going way of life. We saw a strong rise in Spanish property prices towards the end of 2017 – putting it in the top half among European nations. Average home values rose 6.7% in the year to Quarter 3, 2017, according to data from Eurostat, the European statistics body.

2018 also continued to be a strong year for Spanish property with 103,727 foreign buyers, compared to just 57,674 in 2007. Overseas buyers are an integral part of the Spanish property market so the rise in purchases are incredibly significant. Trends have shown that it’s often all or nothing when it comes to the Spanish Property market. With prices continuing to rise, will we see a fall in demand in the coming years?

It is difficult to make an accurate prediction with Spanish property prices and demand for 2020 onwards as we are yet to know the full figures for 2019 (these should be released in May). A big issue for British buyers at the moment is the continuing weakness in the Pound. Your £400,000 would have taken you a lot further than what it would today. Given the stressful economic and social climate that we currently in, there will undoubtedly be a drop in buyers for 2020 given the Coronavirus crisis and the uncertainty of what will happen with Brexit.

Portugese Property

Spain’s neighbour, Portugal, has seen increasing property price growth since 2010 and is expected to continue to rise. Prices went up from 7.6% in 2016 and up to 7.9% in 2017 according to the Eurostat figures. In Quarter 3 of 2019, property prices were 2.5% more expensive in comparison to the previous Quarter. 

Demand for Portuguese property has continually remained healthy, with it having some of the most reasonably priced property in Europe. The highest property prices are in the popular Algarve area, whilst Lisbon and Madeira are more moderately priced. Although the property market is slower moving than Spain, it has remained more stable and consistent. 

Due to the stability of the Portuguese property market, it is not predicted that the figures will fluctuate too much during 2020. Real estate agents predict that there could be a rise in people moving to more rural areas of Portugal where there is a greater investment.

image of french property

French Property

There has been a period of steady growth within the French property market. House prices in France have increased for the 13th consecutive quarter. France remains ever popular with property buyers from abroad; whether for holiday homes, rentals or a permanent move.

Sales figures in the French property market hit a record of 985,000 in 2019. Notaires de France state “Whether it be older apartments or older houses, Greater Paris or the French provinces, selling prices and transaction volumes continue to rise.”

In 2017, the sales total was 129,000 higher than in October 2016 and included record annual rises in the departments of Bas-Rhin (35%), Landes (33%) and Charente-Maritime (29%).

Credit Agricole have predicted that the level of sales and house prices will only continue to increase during 2020.

Boredeau property

UK Property

It’s easy to sum up the shadow over the UK property market – Brexit and coronavirus.

The wobble began since the referendum vote in June 2016. The twists and turns of the discussions between the UK and the European Union about the terms of leaving have caused uncertainty about the way ahead and have affected the economic outlook and to some extent the housing market. 

in January UK house prices were up 1.9% year on year and was the largest increase in 14 months.  That being said, It is difficult to say exactly how the market will progress as the impact of Brexit and coronavirus has created a great amount of economic uncertainty. Since the outbreak began earlier this year, the government recommended act of social distancing has meant that people are avoiding property viewings and unable to sign mortgage documents. Property confidence has undoubtedly been knocked but how this plays out remains to be seen.

Italy Property

Italy’s property market has suffered since 2008 amid the recession. During 2017, Italy’s property market, was the only European housing market to see an annual fall in values to Quarter 3, 2017, says Eurostat – although data from the Greek property sector was not available for consideration.

The fall was the worst performance during that year. Values fell 0.3% in the year to Quarter 4, 2016, 0.1% to Quarter 1, 2017 and 0.3% to Quarter 2. This is an ongoing problem – Italy’s house prices have now been falling for more than 10 years. Back in 2008, property investors accounted for one in five transactions. Now, it is much less.

That being said, things have continued to improve in Italy’s economy, with unemployment falling to 9.7% in comparison to 11% in 2017. The Housing market has also shown signs of recovery with demand beginning to rise. In 2018, residential property sales increased by 2.3% during the first three quarters and in 2019 we saw a property boom in Milan. However, the spread of coronavirus looks to threaten this progression. Property sales during the first two months of 2020 were down 7% and down 12% in Milan.

Full league tables from official European Commission Eurostat figures