Andorra Property Beats 2007 Slow Down

By: Roger Munns

House prices in Andorra have risen by an average of ten per cent a year over the last decade, with the last two years showing particularly impressive gains of 19 and 16 per cent.

But 2007 was set to see a freeze in the rises as the traditional ski season sales failed to materialise.

The 2007 ski season was a catstrophe for Andorra, with tourists shunning the country as snow levels were so poor, the worst for twenty years.

But an influx of buyers in the spring months has seen property prices rise again.

Many of the buyers were looking to move to Andorra full time to become resident, and take advantage of Andorra's tax haven status.

Andorra is one of two of Europe's prime tax havens, second only to Monaco.

Fifty years ago Andorra was one of Europe's poorest countries, but now counts among the wealthiest, thanks mainly to her tax haven status, but also her ski industry, which has seen as many as ten millions visitors in a year - pretty impressive for a country with a 70,000 population.

Andorra has very similar fiscal benefits as Monaco, but property prices are around a quarter of Monaco's.

Commenting on the turnaround, an Andorra property specialist says he is not surprised at the turnaround.

'2007 started badly for Andorra. The lack of snow added up to a lack of visitors, and this in turn meant less buyers than normal, as some visitors like Andorra enough to buy a ski apartment. The pool of buyers was very limited between January and March, and the traditional good start to the year just didn't happen'.

Andorra property prices are around a quarter of better known tax haven Monaco, attracting many high income earners from the UK and other European countries looking to reduce their tax bills.

Surprisingly perhaps for a tax haven, mortgages for a property are as available as many European countries, with rates around the same level. Up to eighty per cent of a property's value is often agreed by the banks in Andorra.

Buying a property in Andorra is often seen as a route to residency, which entitles people to live in Andorra and benefit from her tax haven status.

To obtain residency in Andorra, applications need to be submitted in Catalan. A notarised copy of the applicants passport, birth certificate and a certificate of good conduct from the home country are submitted at the same time. Residency normally takes between three and six months to be given the stamp of approval by the Andorra residency office.

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