The rise of the 50/50 property – more expats look to invest at home

Global property firm Knight Frank says it has seen a rise in expats buying in their home country for a 50/50 property – giving them a base in both their country of origin and their adopted home, and providing added flexibility in these Covid times we live in.

“We carried out a survey of our prime agents, with regular calls to our global agents in Europe, Asia and the US. It came to light that multiple agents were seeing an uptick in expat enquiries,” Kate Everett-Allen, partner and head of international residential research at Knight Frank, said.

According to the survey, 64% of expats said lockdown had influenced their decision to move home. Some 57% were looking for a 50/50 home in their home country – initially to use as a second home, or to rent out, then as a long-term residence in the future. Meanwhile, 29% were making a permanent move. And 14% said they wanted a second home.

What are the latest trends for international investment/moving?

“Our survey found that 62% of expats are looking for a detached home with outdoor space, while 24% want a penthouse, 9% want a ski chalet and 5% want a farmhouse or rural abode,” Everett-Allen added.

“Many global buyers are corporate types and rural is a step too far for them. They prefer suburbia, on the outskirts of major cities.”

Some of the key motives for moving are to be closer to family or support networks. Work or a new job offer was the second most popular motivation, while better healthcare was in third, followed by education.

“The relocation is mostly happening for those a six-hour plus flight from home – so Brits based in Asia or Australia looking to return home. Or Canadians based in Asia wanting to get back to Toronto or Ottawa.”

Everett-Allen says there has also been an increase in demand for ski properties in places like the French Alps, with a particular increase in enquiries from French expats in Asia.

“They want a base in the French Alps because of their grown-up children being based in London, Geneva, Paris or Berlin. They also want the fresh mountain air and outdoors life that the French Alps provides,” she explained.

Has there been an increase in the number of expat retirees looking to relocate due to Covid-19 and Brexit?

“People are now thinking about it again, with Brexit only three or four months down the line, but there are so many potential complications. There is expected to be reciprocal agreements between the UK and individual EU nations regarding the right to move around Europe, with things like the Settlement Scheme on offer for both Brits in Europe and Europeans in Britain.”

She says there has been an uptick in interest in places like France and Spain, but it is difficult with the quarantine restrictions currently in place.

“The sales process typically takes 6-12 weeks and it’s hard to get people out there at present. The window of opportunity is narrowing. There was a period when France and Spain were both on the quarantine exemption list, but now that is no longer the case the window of opportunity for British buyers to purchase before the transition period ends is narrowing.”

On the other hand, she argues, there is likely to be more opportunities for Golden Visas post-Brexit – in places like Greece, Portugal and Spain – as Brits will be counted as non-EU residents. The Golden Visa offers benefits like Schengen Area access for those investing a certain amount in a country.

What if a Brexit deal isn’t negotiated?

If Westminster and Brussels can’t reach a trade agreement before the transition period comes to an end, what will the impact be on British investment in Europe and vice versa? Is it vital that a deal is agreed?

“So much detail yet to be decided,” Everett-Allen said. “So it’s hard to know at the moment. But it’s clear healthcare is going to be a vital component in investment moving forward. Around 30-50% of our expat clients are now considering healthcare, even more than education, when choosing their destination – as a result of Covid-19 worries.”

“Healthcare has come to the fore. Places like Germany and Switzerland, which have – although it changes every day – relatively speaking managed the virus fairly well, are seeing an uptick in interest from second home buyers in particular.”

You can see Knight Frank’s most recent Global Residential Outlook findings, which suggest that the second home market has been surprisingly buoyant in countries such as France, the US, Australia and New Zealand despite Covid-19 restrictions, as domestic buyers step in to fill the gap left by international purchasers, by clicking here.

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