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Best Bet Brazil

Brazil is a vast resource-rich emerging nation. Since Lula da Silva became president in 2003, the country has made unprecedented social and economic strides. Not only was Brazil little affected by the subprime crises that almost sank the west’s financial system, poverty has been reduced dramatically. Moreover, economic growth is forecast to reach 7.1% this year.

Of the four BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) identified by Goldman Sachs in 2001 to become global economic powerhouses, Brazil exceeded all expectations last year to be ranked top for sustainable economic growth in the GS Sustainable Economic Score index.

Massive government investment has been allocated to infrastructure improvements including the north east where, for example, a colossal new airport purported to be South America’s largest is under construction in the state of Rio Grande do Norte near Natal.

Brazil’s north east has always been a popular domestic tourist destination. Though less known for international tourism, the area is increasing in popularity and set to grow further for a number of reasons, not least of which is that Brazil will host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. These events will inevitably boost international tourism and energise Brazil’s fledgling international property market.

Foreigners have bought property across the nine states of the north east, but some of the strongest interest at present is found in the three states of Rio Grande do Norte, Pariaba and Ceará, especially along the Atlantic coast – hurricane and earthquake free with unending palm-fringed crystalline beaches and 300+ days of sunshine a year.

The state of Rio Grande do Norte, after Antarctica, has one of the cleanest atmospheres on earth. Its capital Natal, named as a host city for the World Cup and with a population of around 200,000, is known as one of Brazil’s safest cities. At the foot of Natal’s spectacular Ponta Negra bluff is a charming cluster of shops, bars and restaurants overlooking an expansive beach. In the northerly environs of the city is an exclusive new spa development, Natal Ocean Club Spa Residence.

A 90km drive south is the picture postcard town of Pipa with its heavenly beaches. Further down the coast in the state of Paraiba near its 700,000 strong capital city of Joâo Pessoa, is the 150-hectare eco-friendly resort development of Tambaba, adjacent to a protected rainforest.

The bustling Ceará coastal capital Fortaleza with a skyline of high rise buildings has a population of over 2m and 3km of sparkling urban beaches. A popular domestic tourist destination, the city’s urbanisation has been fuelled by an influx of Brazilians re-locating from the major cities of the south. That Fortaleza will be a 2014 World Cup host city and is a six hour flight from Lisbon makes it particularly attractive for property investment.

North east Brazil properties are relatively affordable compared, say, to their Caribbean counterparts. Capital appreciation is set to strengthen. But with any emerging market, painstaking research along with good independent financial, tax and legal advice is paramount. That some past European developments have stalled or failed completely is in part the result of over ambition and lack of due diligence.

Lula’s departure from office at the end of the year is not expected to have a major impact on the country. The two top contenders for president are José Serra, governor of Sao Paolo State and Dilma Rousseff, the government’s chief minister. Although Lula has endorsed the latter, reassuringly many observers expect continuity next January no matter who takes office.

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El Gouna shines as Egyptian holiday hotspot

The Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada remained popular but according to leading holiday rental site, HomeAway Holiday-Rentals, it is the area just north of Hurghada, El Gouna, which is shining as the Egyptian holiday hotspot with a 92% rise in booking enquiries so far in 2010 compared to the same period in 2009.

Steven Worboys, MD of Egypt property experts, Experience International, remarks,

“El Gouna is a beautiful, up and coming resort on the Red Sea coast offering an unrivalled lifestyle. With 10km of golden sandy beaches, islands, crystal clear lagoons and a warm year round climate, it really is the perfect holiday destination.”

El Gouna’s popularity as an exclusive tourism destination is reflected in the high demand for rental accommodation. According to HomeAway Holiday-Rentals data, the average weekly rate for a 2 bedroom property in El Gouna is £480, considerably higher than nearby Hurghada at £270 and Sharm el Sheikh at £280, which should excite property owners.

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New flights to Dordogne make it simple to enjoy a grape escape

The twice weekly flights will operate from 21st May to 24th September 2011 from Jet2’s Manchester base with tickets starting from €39.99 (one way including taxes). The new Brive Dordogne Valley airport has only just opened this summer but already demand is high due to its prime location in the heart of the popular Dordogne.

Steven Worboys, MD of the French leaseback property experts at Experience International, comments,

“Dordogne is one of the most beautiful departments of France, with enchanting rolling hills dotted with charming châteaux, a rich heritage and wealth of gastronomic delights. Over 2.9 million people visit the Dordogne each year making it the most popular place within the Aquitaine region and with the new 2011 summer flights Britons will have no excuse not to discover this hidden gem.“

And now is the perfect time to visit the Dordogne valley, home to some of the finest Merlot, Cabernet Franc and sweet Monbazallic wines in the world, as the autumn grape harvests have begun. Medieval villages such as St Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just over 90 minutes from Brive airport, are renowned for their harvest festivities complete with parties, shows and of course wine tasting sessions in the local cellars and estates.

The heady combination of natural beauty and fine gastronomy has made the Dordogne not only a highly popular tourism destination but also a more permanent base for many British second property owners. Over 20,000 Brits own homes within the department with the Dordogne accounting for 15% of all enquiries according to Athena Mortgages, a figure which has remained stable over the past 3 years.

As Steve Worboys goes on to comment,

“Property within the Dordogne is very reasonably priced with new developments, especially leasebacks, selling quickly. Well located properties can be purchased off-plan, with up to 100% finance and still guarantee index-linked returns of up to 4.3% for 18 years.”

One such development newly released to the market is Domaine de Rochevigne, 1 and 2 bedroom 4* apartments located only a stone’s throw from Gurson Lake and minutes from St Emilion. Easily accessible in under 90 minutes from Brive airport and 15 minutes from Bergerac airport, the residences are delivered fully furnished with built-in kitchens, flat screen TVs, terraces and garden areas.

This eco-friendly development also affords superb wellness facilities on-site including a heated swimming pool, spa, Turkish bath, sauna and solarium as well as a wide range of leisure activities from horse riding to tennis and fishing in the surrounding countryside.

Fully managed by one of France’s most reputable developers and management companies, Domaine de Rochevigne offers up to 4.3% guaranteed returns as well as generous personal usage options. Prices start from €117,652, the VAT is refunded and up to 100% finance is available.

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Why Are French Leasebacks Such A Safe Investment?

By Marc da Silva, freelance property journalist and editor of HomesOverseas.co.uk

Investing in homes overseas can be a great way to accumulate wealth. But before parting with your cash, an investment strategy needs to be developed. Where should you invest your money? What risks are you willing to take?

Many emerging property destinations, which were so popular during the height of the global property boom, have now fallen out of favour with most property investors, due to the high-risk, high-return, boom-bust nature of investing in these new markets.

A lot of investors have now returned to investing in safer property markets, where the economic fundamentals remain strong and the risks are far lower.

Take France for example. The recent global credit crunch had much less of an impact on the country’s economy, ensuring that it was the first European nation to come out of recession last year.

France’s robust economy has benefited the French property market, with home prices and mortgage transactions having improved across many parts of the country since mid-2009. France has traditionally always been a rather safe haven for property investors as it is less prone to dramatic price falls and has historically offered good long-term returns, thanks largely to the country’s prudent attitude to mortgage lending.

Mortgage borrowers in France are generally only allowed to borrow one-third of their total gross monthly income. This has ensured that mortgages remain readily available, with high loan-to-value home loans obtainable at competitive borrowing rates.

The French buy-to-let market, particularly the leaseback property sector, is reportedly attracting particular interest from global investors, due to the low-risk, hands-off, nature of this long-term French property investment vehicle.

France Leaseback Properties

The French sale-and-leaseback (propriete allege) system was introduced by the French government back in the 1980’s to increase the number of holiday homes available in the country.

This investment vehicle presents people with an opportunity to buy a home and then lease it back to a management company, often for a typical term of 9 to 11 years (extendable up to 18 years) in return for a guaranteed annual rental income of 3 to 6%.

During the leaseback period, the management company is responsible for letting the property, furnishing, maintenance and paying all bills. Meanwhile, homeowners get to benefit from a guaranteed rental income and potential capital growth throughout the duration of the leaseback agreement.

There is also the added incentive that most leaseback properties in France qualify for a 19.6% VAT rebate from the French government.

Pension Scheme

Homeowners are usually permitted to enjoy a few weeks personal use of their home each year.

However, any investor who never intends to personally use their leaseback property may find that their investment qualifies to be placed into a UK Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP).

This is because the leaseback property is classified as a commercial investment, as long as the owner does not make any personal use of it. But this model is only likely to appeal to investors with at least £150,000 in their pension or those with a high net income.

A Stable Investment

The prospect of a guaranteed rental income, good long-term capital growth, VAT exemption and an established mature market, offers little doubt that French leaseback properties look a safe bet for investors.

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Brazil’s Star Just Keeps on Shining with 71% Increase in Booking Enquiries Reported

Brazil’s star just keeps on shining with 71% increase in booking enquiries reported

Brazil’s status as one of the hottest emerging markets in the world today remains high with a 71% increase in booking enquiries reported by leading holiday rental site, HomeAway.co.uk.

Over the past year, whilst many nations have suffered in the economic downturn and fallen by the wayside, Brazil has gone from strength to strength with HomeAway.co.uk reporting a significant increase in both the supply of and demand for accommodation with a 33% increase in property listings (nearly double the site average) and 71% increase in booking enquiries during Q2 2010.

Steven Worboys, MD of Brazil property experts, Experience International, comments,

“We at Experience International have also seen a marked increase this year in the number of people, both British and international investors, looking to purchase in Brazil. Over 1 in 10 enquiries are for Brazil, more specifically the north east. There are many more opportunities coming to market now however it is essential that buyers select the right property investment, those with the correct licenses, title deeds and planning permissions in place.”

Confidence in the Brazilian leisure and real estate market has grown in line with positive economic performance. As Vince Cable, UK Secretary of State for Business remarked on a recent visit to Brazil, “The centre of gravity of the world economy is moving, and Brazil is at the heart of that.” The latest IMF World Economic Outlook report forecasts GDP growth of 7.5% for 2010, more optimistic than Brazil’s Central Bank at 7.3% but considerably higher than the global average of 4.8%.

The real estate industry is one sector experiencing noteworthy growth; worth $17 billion in 2004, it is now estimated to be worth $34 billion today according to the Brazilian Chamber of Construction Industry (CBIC). Fuelling this growth is both the massive demand from the domestic sector for affordable housing, current estimates state a 8 million unit shortfall, and the rising numbers of international tourists visiting Brazil and requiring quality accommodation.

At present there are very few global hotel brands within Brazil and none within the designated World Cup 2014 cities such as Natal and Fortaleza. As indicated from the HomeAway.co.uk data, demand is already present and with tourism rising steadily (7 million visitors expected in 2010 rising to 9 million by 2014) there is huge opportunity for real estate investment.

Purchasing land for development has become an attractive investment option as it allows buyers to enter the market at a lucrative, early stage for maximum returns. Once such opportunity is the Tambaba Country Club Resort located near the historic city of Joao Pessoa in the north eastern state of Paraiba.

Covering some 150 hectares of prime tropical paradise, the Tambaba Resort is based on the highly successful European Centre Parcs concept with a wealth of on-site amenities including aquatic water park, restaurants, sports facilities, nature trails, craft centres and even a cachaca production area!

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Why Detroit Property Is a Good Investment Right Now

So let’s look at why property in Detroit is an interesting investment today.

Detroit is ranked the 30th Richest City in the world and is forecast to grow in light of the USA Government’s commitment to a new high-speed rail service between Chicago and Detroit.

The car industry in Detroit is now again and, with General Motors recently introducing an extra 2,000 jobs in the city, the rental demand has quickly increased.

As mentioned the price of homes is around 65% below 2006 prices so you can now acquire a brick built detached house for only £20,606* ($34,000) or a larger brick built 3 & 4 bed detached houses for just £24,848*. Taking into consideration that the normal rental yield for these kinds of homes in a good neighbourhood is around £600 ($1000) a month. So you can figure out the good rental yields of as high as 25% per annum.

Some firms like Experience International offer pre-tenanted houses that generate rental income from the first month you own the property. They take care of the whole process offering investors a totally hands off hassle free investment.

The homes are US Department of Housing approved and the rental yield is secure with rental payments backed by the US gov (Section 8). The houses are all Freehold with clean, clear & debt free titles and also come with an optional 5 year home warranty.

Due to the current situation of the USA real estate market, the improvements in employment opportunities and the other points highlighted above you can see that houses in Detroit offer attractive rental yields, with great capital growth potential in the medium to longer term and are therefore still a very good investment right now.

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New 70%+ Below Market Value Investment Opportunities

Be the “buyer who benefits”

With billionaire real estate investor Warren Buffett proclaiming recently that “within a year or so, residential housing problems [in the US] should largely be behind us”, investor confidence in the US and more specifically the perennially popular Floridian real estate market has returned.

Despite the outlook for the US economy being more positive in 2010, recovery is not expected overnight and there still remains substantial Below Market Value housing stock available. In the Sunshine State of Florida in particular up to 72% discounts are available from most recent selling prices.

Steven Worboys, MD of international real estate experts, Experience International comments,

“From our extensive research we believe that Below Market Value property in Florida remains one of the most attractive investment opportunities available today. Working in partnership with Florida’s most trusted and experienced real estate experts we have sourced a selection of premium properties in highly sought after locations at up to 72% below recent selling prices.”

To view the latest Below Market Value opportunities in Florida please contact Experience International on + 44 (0) 207 321 5858 or visit www.experience-international.com.

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UK Exclusive | Invest in the world leader in solar energy

For the first time in the UK, Experience International clients can invest in the “world leader in solar energy” (as featured on the BBC) with 20 years minimum guaranteed income and net income of €21,501 in Year 1

Thomas Edison – inventor of the electric light bulb said:

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

We haven’t reached this critical point yet but how long will it be?

Sourcing green, renewable and efficient energy is the great political and environmental challenge of the 21st century. Solar energy has come of age since the German government and European Union set aggressive targets to raise the use of renewable sources to 20% of total consumption requirements by the year 2010.

“Germany is the world leader in solar energy: building power stations across the country, developing the technology and manufacturing solar panels.”

BBC Radio 4, 2008

Solar energy can be used to make electricity through a process called photovoltaic (PV) which uses solar cells or solar photovoltaic modules to convert sunlight into electricity. The manufacture of photovoltaic cells has expanded dramatically in recent years, increasing by an average of 48% each year since 2002, making it the world’s fastest-growing energy technology with every increasing efficient levels.

“Analysts estimate the country [Germany] accounts for at least 50 percent of the worldwide photovoltaic market”

Reuters, 2010

To ensure that Utility companies will remain profitable, the German Government have made it law that all utility companies will be able to buy electricity produced by solar systems at a price fixed for 20 years – a “feed-in tariff”. However this tariff is being cut by 16% on 1st June 2010 – making investment in this green energy before that date extremely attractive.

Highlights of this alternative energy investment if commitment is made before 1st June:

20 years guaranteed income backed by the German Government
Only €50,000 minimum investment*
Net income in year 1 of €21,501
Return on investment is 17% net in years 1-20
Investment paid back within 6 years on net income alone
Panel have a +35 years lifespan
Through your investment, PV solar panels will be purchased and installed on rooftops in key strategic locations selected to maximise sun hours and hence electricity production.

For more information please contact experience International on 0207 321 5858 or visit http://www.experience-international.com/country/socially-responsible-investments.

*Тhe minimum investment is 50,000 Euros; with 90% finance this brings the minimum project size to 500,000 Euros. German Banks are offering 90% non-recourse financing to non-German individuals who set up a German company (Gmbh).

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One to Watch – Hidden Gem of the French Alps

With France topping the charts in a recent survey of the top 10 winter ski resort destinations by budget airline easyJet, it seems that the French Alps remain in favour with British buyers.

As expected Chamonix, Avoriaz, Meribel and Les Arcs ranked highest but according to the French leaseback experts at Experience International, Sainte-Foy-en-Tarentaise, the hidden gem of the French Alps, is one to watch in 2010.

Occupying a prime location in the Tarentaise Valley, home to prestigious resorts including Val d’Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs and La Plagne, Sainte-Foy-en-Tarentaise has long been the preserve of experienced guides bringing their clients to enjoy the famous powder and off-piste skiing available. As Steven Worboys, MD of Experience International, comments:

“It is the ideal resort for experienced skiers and beginners alike. The traditional Savoyard architecture, stunning scenery and relaxed family atmosphere attract real mountain lovers. The popularity of Sainte Foy is only going to increase in 2010.”

Nnot only a popular ski destination Sainte-Foy is also the ideal second property location due to its ease of access from the UK (under the magic 2 hours drive from Geneva), year round appeal and property prices up to half that of surrounding areas.

With current concerns over the strength of the British Pound buyers are being cautious about committing to euro property purchases but as Steven Worboys explains, this should not be a concern as long as you select the right development:

“In order to minimise exposure to the current weakness of the Pound buyers should look for leaseback properties which require low deposits. The La Chapelle ski-in ski-out apartments in Sainte-Foy for example require only a 5% deposit to secure with 95% finance available.”

Leaseback properties in prime locations are attractive options as investors are able to secure guaranteed rental returns for 18 years plus, index-linked, as is the case with La Chapelle as well as enjoying flexible personal usage. Investment in these 4* luxury apartments is from as little as €12,000 including furniture, parking and purchase costs.

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Sun, Sea and Ski? Italy’s secret ski resort revealed

When you think of southern Italy, images of relaxing on a golden sandy beach with the warm waters of the Mediterranean lapping at your feet, indulging in the freshest Italian cuisine and strolling through character filled Romanesque towns springs to mind.

Whilst this is indeed true, it is not all that the southern region of Calabria offers. Drive just 90 minutes inland and you will be transported to the Sila Mountains, a rugged plateau in the heart of the region and home to Italy’s secret ski resort.

Popular for decades with Italians, the Sila National Park is filled with enchanting mountains and valleys, rich in flora and fauna it is the ideal location for nature lovers. Not only a summer destination, the Sila Mountains due to their altitude (the highest peak is almost 2000m) and reliable snowfall are fast becoming a popular European ski destination, proving it is possible to have sun, sea and ski all in one place.

In the quiet mountains of the Sila Massif you can take advantage of 35km of cross-country skiing trails, a number of pistes for beginners and intermediates alike and an impressive 1,748 feet of vertical descent, Hell Valley which is used for the Italian Ski National Cup. Stumble across hamlets where it is easy to believe that their origins are as old as the mountains themselves. Step back in time where women wear traditional black dress and elderly men sit quietly outside tavernas watching the world go by.

It is in this unspoiled setting that you will find the “pearl of Sila”, the little known but best organised ski resort of Lorica. Situated on the banks of Lake Arvo in a pleasant open valley facing south, warmed in winter by the sun of the south and cooled in summer by the height of the mountain, Lorica affords access to the top of the Botte Donato peak (1928m) from the Cavaliere station.

Steven Worboys, MD of overseas property experts, Experience International, comments,

“For those who love Italy, the Sila Mountains in Calabria are truly a hidden gem. The region offers the complete package from the sundrenched shores of the Calabrian coast to the spectacularly beautiful mountains of the Sila National Park only a short drive away. And with property prices remaining affordable, buyers can expect their euro to go a lot further compared to other more developed Italian ski resorts.”

One new development receiving considerable buyer interest is Porcino Silano, 6 luxury boutique 1 and 2 bedroom apartments in the village of Lorica starting from only €87,000. With private parking and private gardens, these eco friendly residences are just 300m from Lake Avro and a short distance from the ski lift enabling easy access to the Sila Massif peaks.

Please contact Experience International on +44 (0) 207 321 5858 or visit apartments in Italy for more information.

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