'Affordable' holiday homes

Think of holiday homes around the world and the concept of 'affordability' is usually a low priority – sun, easy access, good facilities and a quality build are always higher.

But now, probably for the first time ever, there is a league table of affordability for 36 of the world's most popular places to buy property. The highly-regarded research department of Savills, the property consultancy, has compared the locations to show what you get for your money across the globe - with some surprising results.

Would you have believed that holiday homes in prime areas of Marrakech, filled with Morocco's exotic atmosphere, are typically just $1,995 (Dh7,325) per square metre? Low build costs and cheap land mean a home there is just a fifth of the price of, say, Mallorca.

In central Europe, some of the very best homes in the staggeringly beautiful Montenegro are a relatively modest $5,000 per sqm.

In the Middle East, Oman eschews the high-rise development frenzy seen in other parts of that region. As a result, it is widely regarded as an elegant and tranquil location, yet its best new homes weigh in below $2,580 per sqm.

Meanwhile, a property on the lush, sensuous Seychelles is just $3,375 per sqm – a 10th of a comparable home on the Cote d'Azur – and many of the newest properties near the Seychellois capital, Mahe, come with moorings.

But Savills' research does not merely reveal promising value-for-money locations. It also shows spectacular sale prices achieved in 2009, recession or no recession.

"It's not really a surprise that key financial hubs like London, Paris, Moscow, Hong Kong or Shanghai generate high values. But it's clear that traditional, world-renowned 'lifestyle' destinations like Cannes and Courchevel continue to attract high-spenders, as does Monaco with its lifestyle-financial hub combination" says Rebecca Gill of Savills' research department and the author of the surveys.

An apartment in Hong Kong sold for $96,270 per sqm last year – around 20 per cent above the best London price – while Monaco and Manhattan have also had sales at or above $80,200 per sqm. Paris, the Cote d'Azur and even Sydney are close behind, demonstrating at least some buyers are wholly undeterred by recession.

Spain remains a conundrum. It never did have the high prices of, say, Manhattan but it has fallen from grace in a spectacular way thanks to the global downturn.

"On a lot of the mainland resorts there's so much new-build relying on British buyers that local markets have slumped. Well-built homes at or below $3,100 per sqm still sell relatively well, but otherwise it's very quiet," says Charles Weston-Baker, Director of Savills' international residential department.

That explains why prime areas of Sotogrande, the private Andalusian resort, are now more affordable than before and are just half the price of properties on parts of the Balearics, and in particular Mallorca which remains the most popular Spanish island.

"Mallorca has a large gene pool and this gives it a very resilient market [compared to mainland Spain]. It draws buyers from Britain, of course, but also from across all of northern Europe and even the United States. Wealthy Spaniards buy there, too. As a result, demand has remained strong and values for the best properties are still high," says Weston-Baker.

He also tips two other places to watch for good value.

One is Sardinia, with many beautiful beachfront properties; the second is what Savills calls 'Affordable France' – the Laguedoc and Biarritz, for example, just half the price of the Cote d'Azur.

The world is out there if you want to buy a post-recession holiday home… and it's clearly cheaper than we might think.

The author is property correspondent for The Observer

 

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