For decades countless individuals have chosen real estate as a sound investment, and for good reason; it has a high tangible asset value, it offers competitive risk-adjusted returns as well as stable income return, and it also offers portfolio diversification. And in a country like ours, where most foreign currency holds a far higher value than our own, the only thing better than investing in domestic real estate is looking abroad. The question is, where is the most value and where should you look?
First things first, just by virtue of being South African and trading in Rands you’re automatically on the backfoot. The country is always at the mercy of its bigger, more economically stable counterparts. In addition, many countries have strict regulations that prohibit or limit non-residents rights to buy foreign property. So, between the weak exchange rate and the limited options what remains? Let’s take a look.
Not surprisingly the UK has consistently been one of the most popular destinations for South Africans to invest in property abroad, followed by Australia. “The UK remains popular due to its historical ties with SA and the ease of investing. It is also a stable property market with a low risk,” says George Radford, international property investment firm IP Global’s director for Africa.
He continued, “real estate investors from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Ghana and Nigeria have consistently shown a healthy interest in UK property in particular. On a global level, places like London, Berlin and Chicago remain very popular due to their stability and growth potential, but we are seeing increased interest from these Sub-Saharan African investors in regional UK markets such as Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham, as well as other key European cities.”
When it comes to the latter, Lisbon, Stockholm, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf stand out. Of those, it’s the Spanish capital that’s currently the most desired. Buying property in Spain goes beyond a simple, albeit potentially lucrative, foreign investment; foreign buyers who purchase property worth 500,000 euros or more will be granted permanent residency (which is extended to the owner’s spouse and children)- very alluring deal considering South Africa’s limited passport. However its European counterparts are not far behind; Frankfurt’s house prices have been on the rise, and the population is steadily growing, Dusseldorf has also seen an increase in property prices over recent years with rents rising alongside.
Investing in foreign property can be a daunting undertaking, but the rewards, both financial and personal, more than make up for it. So, the real question is where do you want to spend your summers? On the Mediterranean Coast? In the forests of Germany? In the cultural haven of Stockholm?