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starting point in Europe for Asian investors. In 2010, Asian buyers represented less than 10 percent of the Central London commercial investment market, by the end of 2013 that was close to 30 percent,” explained Alistair Meadows, head of JLL’s International Capital Group in Asia Pacific. “While we expect this London focus to continue, the European focus has diversified and we have seen a sustained increased interest in Germany’s gateway cities.” On a more personal note, holiday homes in Croatia are gaining global traction too. Following its entry into the European Union in July 2013, interest in the Adriatic country has risen 30 percent. “The peninsula of Istria is … attracting the attention of international buyers … Prices of as much as €500,000 are being paid for exclusive residences in very good locations,” said a statement by Engle & Völkers. Improvement to Croatia’s construction industry standards and land registry systems has also stimulated the market, leading to 90 percent of buyers now based abroad. “Compared to Spain or Italy, the prices for holiday homes in Croatia in the very best locations are still relatively low. That said, the growing level of demand means that we are anticipating a considerable rise in prices for holiday properties in Croatia over the coming months,” said Michael Grimm, managing partner of E&V in Rab and Opatija, two of the hottest markets. Emerging markets are quite another story. Brazil, Kenya, Bulgaria, Myanmar, Turkey and the re-emergent UAE are all potentially lucrative but face various hurdles. Kenya’s socio-political problems make it a high-risk location, with regular terror attacks sending its critical tourism industry into a tailspin even as Nairobi positions itself as an African business hub to complement Johannesburg. Bulgaria burst on the scene as an alternative ski location until things took a turn for the worse in 2008. Prices are starting to stabilise but transparency can still be an issue. Myanmar is in its investment infancy but it is eager to please — to a limit. Investment right now comes largely from major hotel operators and land prices are laughably high according to some. They’ll stay that way until the country’s leaders find a way to free up leftover junta land. “My money without a doubt is on … Dubai, Qatar, Turkey and even Cyprus,” says Marcot’s Saber, noting prices in Dubai are up 20 percent in some areas, and unlike the last boom, there are tough anti-speculation measures in place and investors are opting to live there. With Syria and Egypt seemingly imploding, it has led to what Saber calls, “An influx of people moving and investing into Dubai. The 2020 Expo, along with continuous investments in infrastructure and in particular the Dubai Airports and ports, make Dubai my first choice.” Nearby, Qatar and Turkey are Dubai’s closest competitors for investment dollars. Turkey, an EU member, has avoided the same trouble as Spain and Greece by being outside the Eurozone. “It has become a fantastic holiday and tourism destination … Fantastic locations to visit, great weather and some devaluation in its currency make investment in Turkey a logical choice,” Saber reasons. “Turkey is happening and being so close to Europe and Middle East is making the country grow.” Wilson agrees. “Previously popular with British clients, now Middle Eastern investors are putting their money in Istanbul as a safe haven. Property prices have risen 20 percent there in the last 12 months.” As for Qatar, prices have been rising steadily and Saber estimates a refocus on the country ahead of the World Cup akin to London and Tokyo’s Olympic bumps — though neither of those had to deal with negative PR for alleged abuses of construction crews. Finally, Cyprus is hoping its offer of European residency with a €300,000 investment will prop up its sagging property market (Spain may do similar soon). But BRIC can never be ignored. “Brazil is still very popular with foreign investors. Its property market has increased in value faster than any other country in the world,” notes Wilson, adding prices in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are up 243 and 197 percent since 2008. Bottom line? All markets can be simultaneously exciting and fraught. Caveat emptor. 29


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