Resicom – Holiday Investment – 04-21 – LB

More capital to be made in Europe

Despite being the smallest continent in terms of landmass, Europe is still one of the world’s most culturally relevant continents. The EU has 28 member states, each one possessing great investment potential, as well as interesting capital cities, meaning that the list of those in which to invest is scarcely exhaustive.

Brussels is not only Belgium’s largest city and capital, but is also capital of the EU. Historical yet trendy, it boasts a variety of both French and Flemish culture, leading to a varied and exciting city experience. St Gery’s clubs and bars are open year round, whilst 17th century buildings and daily flower markets inject a dose of tradition into the city.

72 per cent of Belgian’s own their own home, and despite heavy bureaucracy and endless contracts, a high standard of living and relatively cheap buying prices make Belgium a solid investment choice. However, tenant’s rights are strong, so the potential to decorate any rental property whilst avoiding purchasing costs does make renting appealing. Although, predictions of improving property prices mean that should you be planning a long term investment, buying can be preferable.

When buying a property in Belgium, documentation is extremely heavy. Most contracts must be written in Dutch or French, although it is a legal requirement that the signer fully understands the contract, meaning that it is up to you to hire a translator if you do not speak the native languages. A real estate agent or notary should be able to assist with this, although you will have to pay their charges yourself.

Paperwork comes in three phases, including a commitment to buy, a sale agreement and a notarised deed. The first stage ties the buyer to the sale but allows the second to back out without penalty, whilst the second outlines the contracts details. Before the third stage, a deposit will usually need to be paid, after which the notarised deed will transfer the ownership of the property. Just four months must pass between all of these stages.

Despite being somewhat less famous than fellow Swiss city Zurich, Bern certainly has charm and potential. It’s famous clocktower, once Bern’s first west city gate, is now iconic, as are the fountains scattered around the historical city. Rich medieval heritage led to the Old Town of Bern being entered into UNESCO’s listing of World Heritage sites in 1983, and the beauty of this relaxing city is fantastic.

However, owning your own home is not the norm in Switzerland, and heavy regulation does make investment tough. 60 per cent of people rent their properties in the country, and home ownership is particularly low in popular cities such as Bern. Strict regulations imposed on foreigners wishing to buy properties mean that the process can be complex, and buyers must be in possession of a Swiss C permit or must be an EU or EETA national with a Swiss residence permit who resides in Switzerland. Holders of a Swiss B permit may purchase a property, but only in which to live.

Non-resident foreigners wishing to purchase property may have to apply for a license to buy. Criteria will vary, although it is likely to favour those who have been settled in the area. However, many workers actually live outside of Switzerland, commuting daily over the border with a residence in France or Germany. These are known as ‘frontaliers.’

Luxembourg, capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a city which has achieved National Heritage status, an affirmed culture stamp. Small enough to explore on foot, yet large enough to host a wealth of attractions, the city boasts many different areas including underground passages in Pertrusse Casemates and the Palace of the Grand Dukes.

Despite a grand past, highlighted by countless banks on Boulevard Royal, the city’s role as headquarters for several major European institutions shows its current clout.

75 per cent of those in Luxembourg own their own home, with many of those in fact choosing to buy a plot of land and build a home themselves. The lack of for sale signs makes locating a property somewhat tricky, although local newspapers, websites and even notice boards can carry property details.

House prices are high, and are on average €500,000 for a house and €250,000 for a flat, making Luxembourg one of the most expensive European capitals. However, this is acknowledged through the extension of the average mortgage length from 25 years to 30. Similar to Bern in Switzerland, many workers choose to commute in and out of the country to avoid high prices, although the charm of the city means that many are tempted to stay.
To conclude, the cities shown are just a taste of European capitals, and in turn, European capitals are just a taste of the continent’s attractions and culture as a whole. Cities such as Florence, Zurich and Munich all hold their own charm as well as their own investment opportunities.

Language barriers can often send investors and expats further afield, reaching out to the seemingly safe havens of Australia and the USA. Despite these locations seeming exotic yet oddly comforting, the culture and charm of Europe is closer to home and offers far more opportunities than are often realised.

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