The UK Telegraph recently wrote about international “hotspots” where people can find the best values for offshore homes or second homes.
Second homes are part of what is emerging as a new expat buzzword – lifestyle insurance. What that means is when your own country is under siege, whether economically, from immigration conflict, or bad weather and worse politics, you have a place to go that is calming, desirable and even healthful.
You go from rattling subways and worse roads to open-air showers with tropical birds and leafy trees. You go from slush and gray ice to blue skies and warm breezes. You go from fast food to whole food that farmers pick during the morning and offer to you in the afternoon.
Of course, your “lifestyle insurance” doesn’t have to be a tropical destination, though perhaps that would be ideal. The Telegraph provides other destinations including Italy – for its picaresque settings and favorable exchange rate – and Portugal for its lack of property density, access to world-class golfing and topnotch construction quality.
The Telegraph also mentions Spain, which is apparently re-emerging as a vacation destination and therefore a place where expats inevitably contemplate a longer stay and perhaps a second home.
The article urges potential buyers to act sooner rather than later. This is partially because British legislation is placing new taxes on foreign homes next year. In addition, interest rates are rising and loan regulations are changing. The article provides us an example from Italy as follows:
"Buyers looking for a mortgage in Italy may find it harder to come by this year than in previous years. Overseas mortgage specialist Simon Conn said: "Italy is still busy, with interest rates remaining low. However, the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) rate is now 60pc, having been at 60-70pc last year."
The Telegraph’s advice is skewed toward Brits who tend to buy their retirement homes in Europe. High Alert Investment Management’s Anthony Wile is a globetrotting investor with strong ideas about where to buy globally.
“I’m definitely not a fan of Europe,” Anthony Wile said. “You look at all the problems the EU is struggling with, from economic weakness to the immigration crisis, and you end up with an unsettled scenario, even a crisis situation. Who wants to buy real estate in the middle of that?”
Anthony Wile is partial to non-Western countries with stable governments and expanding economies. In particular, he feels South America offers some of the better locales – countries such as Chile, Colombia and Uruguay are among his top choices.
Wile notes that Colombia offers perhaps the best value and overall lifestyle option of the bunch. "Especially now that there appears to be a lasting peace accord about to be signed between the government of Colombia and FARC, there will undoubtedly be an economic boon in the country’s real estate industry, which will push market prices higher.” Anthony Wile continues, “And I believe there is significant room for upside appreciation that warrants investors seeking value lifestyle options to act sooner than later if considering Colombia."
Wile expanded on why he thinks Colombia is a country for investors to consider. “An extensive infrastructure development program currently being implemented in Colombia is improving the road and highway system to support accessibility virtually throughout the country, as well as upgrading all of the airports. This is certainly within the realm of what they expect to be a big boon for both domestic industry as well as investors seeking real estate opportunities in the country.”
“Remember,” he cautioned, “you’re buying lifestyle insurance as well as a home. If you can’t live comfortably and without fear that tomorrow may change your whole situation, you better rethink the purchase. Of course, there’s always the possibility of something unexpected, but if you do your due diligence, you can probably avoid a lot of surprises.”
For Anthony Wile, as for many others, today’s lifestyle insurance – via purchases of homes abroad – is increasingly a potentially profit-making endeavor. That’s how Forbes sees it anyway. Forbes recently wrote about global real estate, calling it potentially 2016’s “best investment”:
Market consensus now has equities flat to negative in 2016. Much of it is due to rate hikes and an end to QE in the U.S. After that, China and oil are to blame for everything else. It’s hard to find an equity bull except at the value funds. Bonds? Forget about it. Outside of a handful of emerging market local currency debt managers, global bond funds are bracing for a drought …
So where’s the safe haven with a plausible return on investment this year? For Colliers International, 2016 is the year of real estate. Investor sentiment toward real estate is projected to remain positive, according to Colliers Global Investor Outlook 2016. Primary target markets will continue to draw the most interest, with moderating risk appetite, stable economic conditions, and low interest rates driving increased investment in secondary markets.
After analyzing why overseas real estate might be THE investment of 2016, Forbes kindly provides a list of potentially promising places. The article mentions Mexico and Brazil in the Americas but also Japan and Australia on the other side of the globe. Other hotspots for global investing include Hong Kong, China and Singapore.
“I like Forbes’s list better than the one provided by the Telegraph,” Anthony Wile commented. “Generally speaking, if you can find a place a little bit off the beaten track, you’re likely gaining advantages in price and personal control. That’s part of the ‘lifestyle insurance’ approach that people mention these days. You’re not just buying a second place to live; you’re potentially purchasing a place that will provide you security in times of trouble. People will need to keep this in mind when they make their purchasing decisions.”
For Wile, as for others, dedicated expat developments may offer advantages that other kinds of real estate purchases don’t have.
“Not every development is a good one,” Wile added, “but if you can find a place in an environment where there are others that share your cultural background and language, I’d think that would be a net positive. If you can find a place that has great weather, amenities and year-round sports like golf and horseback riding, I’d think you’d certainly want to consider it. So those are the kinds of choices you may be offered as more and more people discover developments abroad. That’s a trend to keep an eye on.”