Property overseas: Outside the Eurozone

There are still bargains abroad to be found, explains Laura Latham
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The Independent Online

House prices may be dropping across Europe, but the strength of the euro has put British buyers off destinations such as Spain and France. However, there are countries where you can still find good-value property.

"You get more for your money in Turkey, when compared to Spain or popular Greek resorts," says Janet Schofield of the Turkish specialists Nicholas Homes. "Prices haven't gone up lately, and there are definitely good deals, such as two-bedroom apartments from around £40,000 and villas with pools for around £140,000."

Schofield says there's also increasing demand for rental property as holidaymakers shun the Eurozone for cheaper destinations, which benefits owners who want to let their homes.

It's a similar story in Croatia, where the market has dipped due to global economic woes. "Sellers are having to reduce prices as there are less buyers," says Andrea Marston of Investment Group Croatia. "British vendors in particular can afford to drop as they're still better off when they convert their money into sterling. So it's worth negotiating."

Marston has properties on the attractive Dalmatian coast, ranging from £90,000 for two bedrooms to three-bedroom villas with a pool for around £220,000. She claims it's better value than Spain, where buying cheap "often means you're a 10-minute drive from the sea, rather than a few minutes' walk".

Bulgaria has fallen out of favour recently, but the low cost of living means that tourism is expected to pick up. Despite sterling having lost value against the Bulgarian lev, prices are still reasonable, with apartments selling for as little as £30,000 in ski resorts such as Borovets and Bansko, and on the Black Sea coast.

"A one-bedroom new-build in the French Alps will start at £180,000, while one-bedrooms in our Bulgarian projects start at £35,500, with duplexes from £75,500," says Veneta Cornford of Zoldi. "Coastal properties start at around the same price. We're seeing a lot of interest in rentals, too."

Low prices can also still be found in Morocco, which is attracting buyers who have been priced out of Europe. Apartments costing from £25,000 are in new purpose-built resorts on the Mediterranean coast around Tangier, but these areas are less popular than the cities.

Frances McKay of Francophiles says it's possible to find lovely riads for the price of a Spanish apartment. "Marrakech is popular, but has become expensive, though you can still find renovated riads with three or four bedrooms for £260,000, and nice one-bedroom apartments from £89,000," she says. "In Fez, we have traditional properties in need of updating from £50,000."

McKay also has apartments and characterful properties in Essaouira, a pretty town on the Atlantic coast, from around £70,000, which she thinks are "unbelievable" bargains. "You won't get much on Europe's Mediterranean coast for that."



Nicholas Homes: 0800 970 6956, www.nicholas-homes.com ; Zoldi: 01252 843444, www.zoldi.com ; Investment Group Croatia: 01753 859548, www.investment-group-croatia.com ; Francophiles: 01622 6881 65, www.morocco.francophiles.co.uk

Bargain properties: A buyer's guide

* Be wary of buying cheap property through developers or agents with no track record. The quality may be substandard or the company could be unethical or go bust.

* Check if your chosen agent or developer is a member of a professional organisation, such as the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants (www.fopdac.com).

* Currency markets can be volatile, so it's worth changing money via a specialist broker to get the best rate.

* Many international markets may have further to fall. Research your chosen location so that you're ready to take advantage of any price drops.

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