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Overseas property searches spike as lockdown measures ease

Data from online property portal, Rightmove, indicates that the volume of searches for property abroad has surged last year as locked-down Britons appeared to be considering relocating, or looking for a place to escape with a second home.

Rightmove said property searches for private villas and apartments in Europe rose significantly, with SpainFrance and Portugal the most popular destination searches.

overseas property searches spike

In May, the number of new users on Rightmove Overseas was 41% higher when compared with the same month the previous year. The upward trend was a continuation of April’s surge, which saw searches for property abroad increase by 50% month-on-month. Overseas property searches in Spain were up 34%, while France was 24% higher and Portugal trailed behind with a 24% increase year-on-year.

The UK’s appetite for international properties appeared to continue in 2021 as Taylor Wimpey Espana saw interest in Spanish property rise by nearly 40% in January.

Chestertons Global Head of International Sales Dennis Chan said the number of clients showing an interest in “second homes has intensified at our offices in southern Europe, particularly in the coastal regions.”

Mallorca, Ibiza, Costa de Almeria, Tenerife and Costa del Sol, which features the cities Malaga and Marbella were among the most popular hotspots for Spanish property.

In France, areas such as the DordogneLanguedoc-RoussillonBrittany, the Loire Valley and Normandy, home to Rouen and Caen attracted the most searches.

The most-searched areas for second homes in Portugal were the Silver Coast, the AlgarveLisbon and coastal citiesAlbufeira and Vilamoura.

Although many people may be seriously considering relocating abroad or purchasing a property overseas, Rightmove admitted that the data might not be a true reflection of increased demand. They acknowledged that the surge in overseas property searches was a mix of those mentioned above and those “dreaming of a trip abroad” after having their holidays cancelled by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The spike in searches for homes in Ibiza, which shot up by 174% may also reflect that view. The jump is being widely attributed to the success of Netflix’s British-Spanish thriller series White Lines, which aims to solve a murder case that happened on Ibiza.

Currently, it’s too early to assess whether the increase in property searches will manifest into hard sales as the UK is still subject to travel restrictions, which look to be lifted from 17th May. However, Rightmove Property Expert Miles Shipside stated: “it is an indication that this has been a life-changing period for Britons’ who are reassessing both how and where they want to live.”

Mr Shipside noted that “countries such as Spain, France and Portugal have cultures that are familiar to the UK — and reasonably priced rural stock will appeal to those who have been unable to travel recently,” he adds.

As well as observing an increased interest in overseas property, Rightmove noted a rise in new people entering the market. According to their recent data, the number of new users searching for property abroad last month was 41% higher when compared with May last year.

Kieran Byrne, owner of Spanish estate agents HomeEspaña, also noted a significant rise in new overseas customer enquiries towards the end of April and throughout May.

When commenting on the increase in new customers, Mr Byrne said lockdown measures has made prospects “reconsider their lives in cities and towns, as has the thought of returning to being crammed onto buses and trains.”

He added that these people have “concluded it would be preferable to be somewhere with more of an outdoor lifestyle, better weather, access to swimming pools and beaches.”

The most often quoted reasons for leaving the UK are sunnier climes and a better quality of life. However, the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the global economy, and the housing industry has not evaded the damage.

2021 has seen property transactions within the UK skyrocket as a result of UK Government initiatives such as the 95% mortgage, low interest rates and stamp duty holiday. The boost in the UK housing market looks to provide support for the British pound (GBP) and improve overall economic outlook.

Lockdown has created overseas property bargains

Estate agents Knight Frank expect property prices in major European cities to experience reasonable price growth this year as demand for foreign homes continues to soar. They anticipate properties in Lisbon to see 4% growth, 3% in Berlin, 3% in Paris, 3% in Madrid and 2% in Barcelona.

International Property

According to the Financial Times, buyers may be able to negotiate up to 20% off the asking price of some properties in Europe’s already overheated markets.

Property prices fell last year to refuel demand and buyers should take advantage of low-interest rates and explore mortgage options for another property after a second home.

According to Rightmove, mobile homes or ruins in Spain can now be bought for less than GBP 20,000, while at the other end of the price spectrum, a 10-bedroom luxury beachfront villa in Marbella is on sale with a guide price of EUR 45 million which, at the present pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate, equates to approximately GBP 40 million.

However, while mortgage prices are likely to remain appealingly low, the housing market’s reawakening may cause international property prices to rise. Although mortgage lenders are asking for large deposits, low housing prices and slashed interest rates present an advantageous opportunity to secure a valuable deal on your overseas property transaction.