Where to buy property in Europe 2021
Welcome to Halo Financial’s latest review of the best places to buy property in Europe. With 2021 now well underway, it’s time to look again at some European property hotspots and pick out some top tips for the best places to buy European property.
Just like our annual review, we will concentrate on the popular countries of Spain, France, and Portugal and also look at ski resorts and property investment opportunities.
Remember, wherever you are buying property overseas, always obtain professional advice from trusted real estate, legal and financial experts. We are happy to recommend trusted partners who can help you every step of the way.
Here are Halo Financial’s best places to buy a property in Europe in 2021.
ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO BUY PROPERTY IN EUROPE: PORTUGAL
Benefits of buying in Portugal
- The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax Programme
One of the benefits of buying in Portugal is its 10-year non–habitual resident (NHR) tax programme. The NHR is a 10-year tax regime for foreigners who live in Portugal either permanently or temporarily. It does not require investment and has been created to attract highly-qualified talent, pensioners and High Net Worth Individuals to Portugal. Portuguese employment and business income from added value scientific, artistic, or technical activities are taxed at a flat rate of 20%. Any other Portuguese-sourced income is taxed at the normal rate. Foreign-sourced income is generally exempt, including most pensions, meaning you don’t pay tax on your pension for 10 years.
- Golden Visa
Another option for international buyers is the Golden Visa (also known as the Residence Permit Program), which is one of the most popular property schemes in Europe. This offers residency to non-EU-based property purchasers in return for an investment of €350,000 in an older existing property that needs renovation or €500,000 elsewhere. In return, applicants can receive a residency permit for a family, including dependent children. The Golden Visa is renewable every two years as long as the visa holder spends two weeks in the country. After five years, holders of the Portuguese Golden Visa can apply for a permanent residence permit and after six years they can seek citizenship, as long as all other legal requirements are met.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, by August 2020, Portugal had already issued 900 residency permits as the visa continues to generate substantial investments. In May 2020, €136,913,745 of real-estate investment was generated. Since its inception in 2020, the Golden Visa programme has generated over €5.5 Billion worth of investment since and over 15,500 residency visas have been granted.
Where to buy property in Portugal 2021
Comporta, c’est chic
Described as “the Hamptons of Portugal” by luxury travel specialist Fordor, Comporta is an “under-the-radar gem”. The Daily Telegraph calls it “Portugal’s chicest beach” as the rich and famous are attracted to the area.
Architect Philippe Starck and French fashion designer Christian Louboutin have property there and Madonna has a home nearby. Marta Espírito Santo, international relations director of Quintela & Penalva in Lisbon, told Mansion Global, “This is where people come to remain anonymous.”
The Comporta region features several villages, including Carvalhal, Comporta, Possanco, Torre and Carrasqueira. The area is set to see growing demand from property buyers.
The village of Comporta, on the Atlantic Coast around 90-minutes south of Lisbon, was bought in the 1950s, by Pedro Espírito Santo. Thirty years later, the banking family began selling select parcels to European friends, which included celebrities and the word got out.
Homes around the village cost from around €500,000 (US$561,000) to €10 million. Luxury house rentals can fetch from €600 to €3,750 per night. The Quinta da Comporta Wellness Boutique Resort development, which opened in 2019, includes 73 upmarket units by the Portuguese architect Miguel Câncio Martins and French interior designer Jacques Grange, which cost from €690,000. The development includes rooms, suites and townhouses.
If you prefer to build your own house, Comporta Retreat features 28 plots. The developer says, “In the almost unknown region of raw beauty a mere hour’s drive from the heart of Lisbon. With 60kms of perfect beachfront, the region of Comporta is a well-kept secret.” Some plots have been sold and reserved but others are available.
International agent Engel & Volkers is marketing two-bed homes in Carvalhal New Village, Comporta, from around €230,000. Furnished apartments in the aparthotel at the resort, houses and villas are all available in the fishing village up to €1.17million.
Bargains to be found in Guarda
If you want a property bargain in Portugal, Guarda is the place to look. It not only has the lowest prices, it has the highest price rises at the moment. Guarda is near the Serra da Estrela mountain range and is built around a medieval castle. As a result, it is the highest city of mainland Portugal. It also includes the Serra da Estrela Natural Park and ski resort and a Gothic-style cathedral. Guarda is also close to the Spanish border. Its location also means that it is one of the coldest cities in Portugal, but minimum temperatures around December and January still average around 2 degrees Celsius.
The latest data from the Association of Professionals and Companies of Real Estate Mediation of Portugal (APEMIP) shows average prices in Guarda are €761 per square metre, the lowest of all cities surveyed. That makes it on average three times cheaper than Porto and six times less expensive than Lisbon.
SPAIN REMAINS AMONGST THE BEST PLACES TO BUY PROPERTY IN EUROPE FOR BRITONS
Spain is the number one destination for Britons wanting to move abroad, with international buyers making up 15% of the property market. The country is ranked top for International Dream Moves in a survey by the AnyVan website. Of the 1.3 million Britons that live in Europe, over 300,000 live in Spain.
BarcelonaAmong the top property picks in Europe and Spain is the popular city of Barcelona. This is particularly true of Britons, with the city holding its first Barcelona London Day in 2019 to promote real estate investment in the Catalan capital. The Spanish Property Insight website states that these benefits make Barcelona one of the best places to buy a property in Europe.
The city has always been a focus of international investors and those moving to the city for employment or to enjoy its arts, culture, sports and cuisine.
How has Covid-19 affected property in Barcelona?
Property sales in Barcelona have declined from 2019 as a result of coronavirus, with property prices falling by 2.5% during Q1, with an average of €4,111 per square metre in March 2020. However, Idealista reports that Spanish property prices could reach pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of 2021.
In Barcelona, the products that have been most in demand are located in desirable districts such as Eixample and Diagonal Mar with developments such as Gran Via 604 and Diagonal Port accounting for the most new home’s sales. Paseo de San Juan 74 in Eixample is also currently attracting a lot of attention among both national and international buyers.
Joanna Papis, Head of New Developments, explains, “Scores of sales in Barcelona that had been in the ‘offer’ stage were completed in the year’s first quarter and regions such as Girona, Sitges and Marbella will also see a good end to the year where many deals will finally be signed off. We are currently commercialising around €1 billion worth of new development product across Spain.”
There has been a major surge in the numbers of buyers from the Middle East and the United States, who prefer contemporary ‘lock and leave’ homes. Interest from the British is still high and the number of Spanish buyers is on the up, reflecting growing confidence in the market from locals.
The motivation of buyers is also changing from secondary residences to investment, as they take advantage of Spain’s steadily growing property prices and good rental returns. This, combined with Spain’s high quality of life, has assured that the trend of the ‘lifestyle investor’ will continue to grow.
Changes in buyer demands
As well as a change in nationality and motivation, buyers of new homes are being more demanding about features and amenities. “Buyers are looking for secure neighbourhoods with plenty of high-class services,” Joanna Papis says. “The type of product is changing as the expectations of clients becomes higher: they want home automation systems, porterage, a gym, a spa and a heated pool, all of which is now becoming the ‘norm’ in new projects. Energy-efficient and sustainable homes are also very much in demand, which is no doubt part of the reason the Diagonal Port development sold so quickly.”
Valencia victorious in property resale market
Beautiful Valencia leads the property resale ranking in Spain, says international agent, Engel & Völkers. Valencia is Spain’s third-largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, with around 800,000 inhabitants and, like many other major Spanish cities, it is well-known for its arts, culture and sports.
Spain’s College of Property Registrars reported that Valencia accounted for 24.1% of foreign property purchases during Q3. This underlines the fact that Valencia is one of the up-and-coming regions, after The Balearics and Canaries, and is also one of the most popular locations for international buyers.
This strong demand from international buyers includes French, German, American and Chinese purchasers. The most exclusive properties are in the city centre.
Families tend to prefer luxury houses here with several bedrooms. The central district of L’Eixample, for example, is one of the city’s most expensive locations, with prices reaching €2,409 per square meter during Q3 of 2020.
Over the last few years, the coastal districts of Patacona, Cabanyal-Canyamelar and Malvarossa have become highly desirable among purchasers, with property prices also unsurprisingly rising as a result.
Particularly sought-after are modern freehold apartments and large villas directly on the coast or with sea views, where prices averaged at €3,158 per square metre during the first quarter of 2020. The area of Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (the City of Arts and Sciences), with its international flair and a rising reputation, is also one of the most desirable and modern areas to live in Valencia.
Foreign buyers account for roughly 35% of property sales in Valencia, with the majority hailing from France, Russia, the UK and Italy. Investors from overseas are mostly interested in exclusive villas and freehold apartments for use as second homes.
Isn’t this evidence that Valencia is one of the best places to buy a property in Europe?
FRANCE REMAINS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO BUY AN ESTATE IN EUROPE
Property prices peak in Paris
Property prices in Paris were still growing steadily through 2020, with average prices for older apartments in Q1 of 2020 €10,460 per square metre. Luxury property search specialist, Home Hunts says, four locations are most sought after. They are the Golden Triangle (in the 8th and 16th arrondissement); the Left Bank in the 6th and 7tharrondissements; the 18th and 17th arrondissements near Monceau Park; and Le Marais in the 4th. Director Tim Swannie explains, “The Golden Triangle is a prime location, close to famous monuments and museums, parks, shops and restaurants.
The fashionable Left Bank is revered for its excellent restaurants, the lifestyle and shopping that it offers. Plus, it is secure, which is a top priority for many of our clients. Short and long-term investments are particularly sought after near Monceau park. North of the Arc de Triomphe, between the 8th and 17th arrondissements and properties with views over the park are the most coveted. The area often attracts families because of the excellent international schools and friendly upmarket community.
Another popular option is The Marais, between the Bastille memorial and the Pompidou Centre. “This is a young and fashionable area with excellent shopping, chic bars and restaurants and a lively arts scene and properties here are a savvy investment,” says Tim. Agents believe that property prices in Paris will see significant growth in 2021, rising by around 3.5%.
Medieval splendour in Mougins, the French Riviera
The French Riviera has always been a hotspot for international property buyers. Just 15 minutes away from Cannes in the Côte d’Azur, is the sought-after Medieval village of Mougins. Picasso had a home there and lived in Mougins in his latter years, so it is little wonder it is renowned for its art-galleries where works from Picasso, Matisse, Rodin, Damien Hirst and more can be found. Another draw is its Michelin-starred restaurants. In addition, the international gastronomy festival, Les Étoiles de Mougins, is held every year in June. The Mougins Hills overlook Cannes Bay, providing an added attraction for property hunters. For those looking to live in the area and seeking a top-class option, Mougins School offers a British curriculum adapted to an international community.
Although it is true that the region has been a magnet for the rich and famous – past and present – is it possible to find property at affordable prices.
For instance, the Coeur Mougins development is advertising apartments from €180,000. The development has been granted permission by the mayor of Mougins, with a long-term goal to bring in new residents.
The apartments range from studios to three bedrooms and villas are also available. The apartments have access to a private swimming pool, a state-of-the-art shopping centre, cinema and more. The project commands views of the stunning mountain and coast. The high-end project is expected to be completed in 2022. Average property values in the region are up around 2%-3% year-on-year, according to INSEE data.
When you are looking for a property in France, it is always wise to check out the transport options. For ski property buyers, being close to an airport that features budget flights will mean you can fly infrequently and get to the slopes as soon as possible. Although France has proposed a new airline eco-tax, it will only add between €1.50 and €18 to each flight, so experts believe it will not greatly impact travel demand. Being near an airport or transport hub is also vital if you are looking to rent out your property to generate income.
One option is finding property close to Geneva Airport, which handles almost 18 million passengers a year. It offers low-cost flights to a wide range of European countries – Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kosovo, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UK. In Britain, low-cost flights are currently available from 21 regional airports across the country.
There is a wide choice of ski resorts within easy reach of Geneva Airport and ski property experts and Halo Financial property expert partner, Erna Low, says in its French Alps 2019-20 property report that nearby Samoëns has one of the prettiest village centres in the Alps. “A second home in the Alps will revolutionise your life. But only if you make frequent use of it.
Ski trips, summer holidays, off-the-cuff weekend escapes: you need to pack as many of them into your year as possible – and to do that, you should pick a property close to an airport, Geneva is the obvious choice. Not only is the Swiss hub served by flights from every corner of the UK, as well as all six London airports. It can also be reached directly from Dubai, New York and Moscow.”
Therefore, whether you are a passionate skier or you just love relaxing with a nice view, french ski resorts are part of the best places to buy a property in Europe.
Natural beauty in Samoëns, French Alps
Samoëns, which is within an hour of Geneva Airport, is an affordable alternative to Val-d’Isère and Courchevel for property hunters. Samoëns – pronounced ‘Samwan’ is part of the Grand Massif ski area, which features 265 kilometres of runs – the fourth largest in the country.
The old farming village is the only ski resort classified as a ‘Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques’ – a National Heritage site. Historic stone buildings epitomise the old part of the village, which was a centre of stonemasonry. The Gothic church and the botanical garden, which contains more than 5,000 plants, are also village highlights. Each week, one of the largest markets in the region takes place in the village square.
In late spring and summer, there are hiking, running and mountain biking trails to enjoy, as well as white water rafting and paragliding for the more adventurous, says Erna Low. Wine tastings, yoga lessons, festivals and live music events are held. Amongst family activities are bird watching, water slides at the swimming pool and an adventure park.
One-bedroom cabins at Le Pre D’Anne-Chloe, are available through Erna Low at around €304,200. Larger properties are also available for up to € 684,400. The apartments include furnished interiors, large terraces or balconies, fully-equipped kitchens, en-suite bathrooms, ski lockers and covered parking in a peaceful location in the dual season resort. Le Pre d’Anne Chloe is a new development near the centre of Samoëns.
It features just 24 apartments divided into three stand-alone chalets, consisting of 18 apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms and six triplex semi-chalets with four and five bedrooms.
Erna Low says, “With an average price of €5,000 per SQM Le Pre d’Anne Chloe is the development Samoëns has been crying out for over the last few years, for those lucky few to take advantage of this beautiful and sporty year-round alpine town.”
Year-round fun in Portes du Solei, France/Switzerland border
Les Portes du Soleil is a major ski destination in the Alps with year-round attractions and so it is another excellent choice for international property buyers. With 650 km of pistes in two countries, Portes du Soleil is among the largest ski areas in the world. It includes a dozen resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Among the most well-known are Morzine, Champéry-Morgins, Les Gets, Châtel, in France and Champery in Switzerland. The region is almost as popular for its summers as its winters, as it features one of the most comprehensive mountain biking infrastructures in the Alps with 600km of trails and top world mountain biking events.
E-biking, trail-running and hiking are also popular. Les Portes du Soleil has responded to the growth in mountain running by creating a network of 54 waymarked trails, served by 23 different lifts and a dedicated smartphone app. But the area also has family-friendly attractions. There are gentle bike routes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, high-rope obstacle courses, horse riding and bob-luge tracks.
The year-round resort means it is an ideal destination for skiers, property investors and holiday homebuyers. Erna Low says, “Those aiming for good rental returns will find a receptive market in July and August, as well as January, February and March – especially if they focus on the most bike-friendly resorts.
“Meanwhile, owners who want to maximise their own time in the mountains will find the area quickly becomes an integral part of their lives. ‘I came for the winters, but stayed for the summers’ is often heard in the Alps. After a day spent freewheeling down a forest track or hiking along a tranquil valley, it’s not hard to agree.”
Most investors want a mix of benefits. At the very least, they want their rental income to cover their property’s running costs. This is where the Portes du Soleil really comes into its own. Several new developments are on the market offering extraordinarily flexible leaseback deals. These allow investors to claim back the VAT on their purchases, by putting them into a rental pool – while at the same time allowing them plenty of private access. In fact, some schemes offer them 26 weeks every year.
“Add to that the allure of France’s highest snowfall average, courtesy of Morzine-Avoriaz, and the thrill of famous ski runs such as the Coupe du Monde and the Swiss Wall, and you’ve got an area with a genuine year-round appeal: one that could tip the work-life balance decisively in your favour.”
The Les 3Sophie development in Morzine, has properties available from just €119,000. The development is ideally positioned at the base of the Morzine-Avoriaz gondola, Les Prodains, The project was highlighted previously in an article by Halo Financial on a building boom in the French Alps. It includes just 21 apartments, in three beautiful chalet-style buildings. All apartments will come fully furnished and equipped to the highest standard and include a parking space. Two-three-bedroom apartments are also available, from with a maximum price of €614,000.
The two different purchase options make Les 3Sophie especially interesting for those who are looking for a worry-free, tax-efficient property. The leaseback/managed arrangement allows owners to receive 75% of the net profits – free of income tax – on the rent generated on their property, whilst at the same time having genuine freedom on their own personal usage, says Erna Low. “As the price per sqm is so competitive, yields at Les 3Sophie are expected to be especially high due to its design, location and access to the main ski lift of Morzine.”
The mayor of Morzine confirmed Project Morzine-Avoriaz 2020 for a €35 million investment in a lift system running from Morzine town centre through the base of these apartments, running up to Avoriaz.
The latest Erna Low French Alps Property Report includes advice on all aspects of buying a ski property, including guidance from Halo Financial on foreign exchange.
HOT PICKS FOR BEST EUROPEAN PROPERTY INVESTMENT 2021
Those looking for investment properties want different things from residential real estate buyers. They need to know what their realistic rental income might be, what typical occupancy levels are, repair, maintenance and management costs, how long the rental season is, capital gains levels and much more.
As with all property investments, investors should ensure they carry out full due diligence and consult with recommended real estate, legal and financial professionals before buying.
Luxembourg has experienced the biggest property price growth within Europe this year. The country tops the Knight Frank Global House Price Index, coming in at third place for Q1 and Q3 and second place during Q2. There was a 13.4% annual increase in Q3, which includes an 4.3% jump from the previous quarter.
Turkey came in at first place for Q1, 2 and 3, seeing up to 25% growth. Knight Frank says although Turkey leads the annual rankings with prices up 25% year-on-year, it’s worth noting inflation currently sits at around 14%. The London real estate agents also stated that “the growth can be put down to overseas interest from the Middle East and a buoyant economy bolstering prices, while GDP increased 16% in Q3 compared to Q2, Knight Frank found.