International Property Investment Hotspots

by : Mark Walters

Property investment is one of the securest, and most recession proof methods of investing. However, many personal investors limit their portfolio by looking close to home.

Many investors have made millions. British investors started investing in Spain in the late 1990s. Now, many of those properties, purchased for less than $50 000 are now worth more than 1m.

At first glance, many new real estate investors are attracted to hot spots. Unfortunately, many areas, like the Black Sea coast are over developed, or where construction is a full time nuisance.

Spain is another long time hotspot. However, things cooled last summer when more than 100 new homes were sold to retired foreign residents for more than $200 000 each. Within months the government demanded they be demolished because they were built on rural land, not zoned for residential development.

Bulgaria is another 'worn out' hotspot. Property investors need to be willing to hunt down good deals. It was the 'hot spot' for property investors until it lost its appeal due to over construction.

The price quality ratio is out of balance in Bulgaria, especially in places like Sofia. A savvy investor can still find a good deal in a prime location, but the imploding population is causing concerns. Investors are worried that no one will rent the 3-4 bedroom "luxe" apartments in a country where the social trend is leaning toward childless couples. There is a risk that the supply will soon exceed the demand.

Investor analysts still suggest that a good location will generate more profit when rented to American tourists. The devaluation of the US dollar makes unusual tourist areas more attractive. US travel agencies now report a steady interest in both Bulgaria and Romania. They cite diversity of entertainment, and low cost air fair to many Baltic states by German and US airlines.

This means that investors who are looking for long term profits may find that a bed and breakfast, or renting to tourists, will earn a profit in the interim, while protecting their equity.

Arlette Adler from the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants (FOPDAC), claims that Bulgaria's property market has reached saturation levels. This means that there are still some deals for first time buyers hoping to invest abroad, but little for the serious investor.

"The more serious buyer is looking at [other eastern European] countries and considering them," said Adler.

"The thing that is bothering many of us [about Bulgaria] is that they are building all over the place," she added.

Specialist house TRI Investments warned property investors to avoid European holiday destinations such as Bulgaria, France and Italy.

FOPDAC also announced that the emerging markets in Croatia, Montenegro and the Czech Republic may offer fast profits for daring investors.

South Africa remains a hotspot for investors who are willing to put some effort into building their portfolios. However, no one has to step in blind. Experts are suggesting that investing is moving beyond South Africa. Growth in other areas of Africa is precarious, but promising. The risks are higher, as is the potential for profit.

Investors who want to minimize risk are following the lead of the large property management companies in South Africa, taking advantage of their 'inside' knowledge of the continent and its growth trends.