Top tips on creating your overseas property portfolio

Top tips on creating your overseas property portfolio

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With ever increasing property prices in the UK and Ireland, it is little wonder that investors are looking further a field and becoming more adventurous and imaginative with their overseas property portfolios.

The emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe are current hot spots, attracting a lot of interest with low entry costs and the potential for high capital growth.

However, the advantages and the security of more mature markets should not be overlooked. France is a great example. According to the annual French Property Market Report, published by the French property experts, VEF, France is still an exciting market with house prices set to rise by an average of 11 per cent this year.

VEF’s long term prediction for the market is healthy with prices set to perform over the 8-9 per cent p.a. rate over the next decade, which shows there is still plenty of room in the Gallic market for growth. This is reassuring news for investors looking for sustainability and no unwanted surprises to their portfolio.

However, perhaps the best part for many is France itself. You can buy your dream apartment or villa as a buy to let and you can also use it for your own holidays. Tips from VEF include looking into regions such as Burgundy, Languedoc, Loire and Pyrenees Atlantiques. With low cost flights to France becoming cheaper from most areas of the UK and Ireland access has never been easier.

France still offers an incredible diversity of property, be it old or new at a price range to suit most budgets. VEF has a charming luxury development called ‘Le Hameau des Pins’ set in the breathtaking Corbieres hills near the Mediterranean coast with prices starting from just £130,000. With private swimming pools and views of the nearby Cathar castle and vineyards, this offers excellent letting potential.

A concept which is becoming ever more familiar is the ‘leaseback purchase’. This is a particularly attractive idea that has existed in France for more than 20 years. You buy a freehold new build property on a holiday complex (for example by the sea, on a golf course on in a ski resort) and you sign an agreement with an onsite rental management company for a minimum of 9 years for them to rent out your property.

Not only does the French state give you a VAT concession worth nearly 20 per cent but you usually receive a guaranteed rental income and you can use the property yourself. According to VEF, the number of investors from Yorkshire who are opting for this type of holiday investment property has increased by 47 per cent between 2004 and 2005.

VEF’s Jardins de Renaissance is a fascinating leaseback development in the historic town of Azay le Rideau in the Loire Valley. Fully furnished one bedroom apartments start from £70,200. Firstly, you receive a VAT rebate worth £13,759, then when built the annual guaranteed rental income of 5 per cent equates to £293 per month. Should you opt for a 25 year French mortgage with a 3.8 per cent fixed interest rate, your repayments would be £290.

Who knows the VAT rebate you receive could be put towards another property for your portfolio?

For investors with their eyes set on building their portfolio in Eastern Europe, buy-to-let apartments in Poland or Czech Republic make excellent sense.

UK-based investment property specialists Validus give a pragmatic and honest approach in helping investors choose the right property for their portfolio. They assist you to identify what type of investor you are and how much risk you feel comfortable with.

Should you be looking more towards capital growth, they offer superb value off-plan apartments in Warsaw. One bedroom flats are available from just £19,000. By opting for a local Polish mortgage with a loan to value (LTV) of 80 per cent, you need a cash deposit of just £3,800.

Warsaw is set to become the sixth largest business centre in Europe and is experiencing a severe shortage in new accommodation. Property prices rose between 15 and 22 per cent last year, with similar figures expected for 2006. Although Polish wages are rising, they are still low and as a result rental yields are moderate at approximately 4 per cent p.a.

For a stronger rental income, Validus is offering brand new buy-to-let apartments in Prague. As the property market is more experienced prices tend to be higher but Czech mortgages can be obtained with a LTV of 85 per cent. This means that a one bedroom apartment costing £47,000 can be purchased with just £7,050. A 25-year Czech mortgage at 4 per cent would cost £212 per month. The rental income is expected to be at least £270, so your nest egg in one of Europe’s most beautiful capital cities will actually pay for itself.

Louis Mann of Validus, has some sound words of advice for any future buyer of overseas property.

“There are key rules to follow to make your property investment as successful as possible.

“Take financing seriously – Look at local mortgages and leverage where possible to make the property pay for itself.

“Do your homework and seek expert advice from reputable companies.

“Make an exit strategy. If and when you sell, what are the tax implications? Are there benefits to holding on to your property for longer to avoid local capital gains tax?

“Don’t forget exposure to currency fluctuations. Forward purchase where necessary.”