Overseas investment hotspots in 2007

[ Sunday, 7th January 2007 ]

Overseas investment hotspots in 2007

This year Portugal will be the new Spain, the Azores the new Cape Verde, St Kitts the new St Lucia and Romania the new Bulgaria.  PREDICTING the next great overseas property market is as lucrative as finding the first nugget of gold, and just as illusive. If you're planning on splashing out on an overseas property but don't have a crystal ball to tell you what new market will emerge as the one to conquer all, fret not.

In 2005 not many would have predicted that St Lucia, Cape Verde and Morocco would be big names on everyone's tongues in 2006. For 2007 a few of the industry's biggest players hedged their bets and let us in on some of their plans.  This January, the big property story is Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU family. However these are both very different markets. Romania has a strong local market which makes it more stable and less dependent on outside buyers.

"Romania has ski and sea but the pace of change will be different, look to ski in the short term and sea over a longer run. For continuing opportunities look to residential investment in Bucharest and the other commercial centres, " says Chris Howard, managing director of 4: Property in the UK.

Savills International also highlight Romania predicting a "20 to 30% house price growth, especially as there is a very low housing market debt which provides good scope for growth."

In relation to the Iberian partners many agents believe Portugal will benefit from Spain's troubles. "Spain will come back once equilibrium is restored between supply and demand, but Portugal is an excellent alternative in the meantime, " believe agents at Savills.

Irishman Gerry Fagan, a director at Oceanico Developments, anticipated this and plans to announce some additional projects in the Algarve and near Lisbon in 2007.   Fagan believes 2007 will give the Azores the coverage Cape Verde got in 2006. This time last year it was recognised as an 'Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year for 2006' by the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM). They have plans for a 700 million project there in 2007.

Analysts from Knight Frank Residential Research have projected figures for the main European emerging market.

Their top three 2007 hotspots are Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia, which they predict will see growth rates of between 17.5% and 20%.    While Croatia and then Montenegro were hot tips last year, Karl Morris of Simple Overseas Properties believes that the next obvious location, will be Albania. However, a lot of work still has to be done to put all the proper legal and financial aspects in place.

In the UK Knight Frank Residential Research predictions are pointing to a slow down in the market from 9% to 6% growth but that price growth will be led by Scotland and Northern Ireland, and of course around London.

St Lucia's Caribbean crown is expected to be taken by St Kitts as the main emerging island. It already has a large Marriott resort but according to James Barnes from Newfound Property International, which recently unveiled its Ocean's Edge development, there are also plans by Mandarin Oriental and Ritz-Carlton to set up on the island.

At a recent conference in Morocco, academics from the Middle East were advocating Qatar as the new Dubai, as it is one of the richest countries in the world and having seen development in Dubai now wants a piece of the market.

Large Dubai developer DAMAC already has plans for the small island nation.

However, further checks show Qatar also has a worryingly high crime rate, so while some times it can be easier to spin a globe till it stops it will be interesting to see what transpires in 2007 and which soothsayers were the wisest.

PS: Don't discount big players such as China and India.

Let the betting begin!

Shane McGinley                                                                                                                                                                         Sunday Tribune 07th January 2007