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While we are expanding rapidly, we do so with a mindful approach. All of our 50,000-plus network members subscribe to the same spirit of business and our founding brand pillars— trust, longevity, stability and integrity. Working with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network member means that you have a strong community of real estate agents in your corner, in nearly every corner of the world. As the CEO of this incredible company, nothing is more inspiring than when our network comes together to learn, connect and celebrate each other’s success. The connectivity that our global brand nurtures further distinguishes our impact and assists the ability of our network members to
serve their clients. A perfect example of this connectivity is a recent, networkwide event, where we invited every real estate professional in the network to join us for a virtual European Summer Spotlight. During this program, the heads of our European countries shared insights and information on their markets and gave forecasts for the year ahead. Included in the pages that follow are findings from this event. We examine and explore market dynamics, geopolitical events, global financial conditions and investment opportunities that are influencing Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. I hope that you enjoy the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices European Summer Spotlight Market Report and soon have the opportunity to connect with one of our dedicated real estate professionals in this very special part of the world. Christy Budnick CEO Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is proud to be a truly global real estate brand with unparalleled connectivity and relationships around the world. During the past decade, we have grown our footprint outside of the United States to Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, United Arab Emirates and India.
APPETITE GROWS FOR LUXE VACATION RENTALS As the birthplace of democracy, the Olympic games and theater— and home to some of the most recognizable historical structures in the world—Greece’s remarkable history and beauty draws buyers from across the globe. Sat at the foot of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece is currently experiencing uncharacteristically low property prices due to a series of external factors—including the war in Ukraine and further geopolitical uncertainty fueled by the actions of neighboring countries. With that in mind, Kyriakos Xydis, managing partner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Athens Properties, believes now is a prudent time to invest in the Greek market. Ample resources are available at present for those looking to relocate to the country. Its Golden Visa program—whereby a minimum investment of €250,000 into the Greek property market can help secure a residency visa—is one of the most competitive in Europe.
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GREECE It is also likely that its current value added tax (VAT) suspension on newbuild properties will run until the end of 2024. Plus, many overseas buyers will continue to avoid dual taxation thanks to Greece’s tax treaties with various other countries, including the US. Recognizing the needs of their clients, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Athens Properties entered the vacation rentals market. The company is now offering luxury villas for rent in regions such as Mykonos, Santorini and Paros—
and is actively looking to expand its portfolio. Currently, the company represents more than 650 villas in 29 destinations throughout Greece. Looking ahead, Xydis expects a strong resurgence in interest from overseas, especially with regards to luxury vacation homes in popular tourist destinations such as Cyclades, Crete and Corfu—as well as increased demand for luxury apartments in the center of Athens and the northern and southern suburbs of the Attica region.
A ROMAN RENAISSANCE With bustling cities steeped in Mediterranean culture and history, splendid countryside scenery, and unbeatable weather, Italy is an incredibly attractive prospect for overseas investors and those looking to purchase a second home. The recent expansion into Rome by Milan-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices MAGGI Properties Agency will soon be followed by the opening of a new office on the shores of the glorious Lake Como. Marcus Benussi, managing partner and general counsel at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices MAGGI Properties Agency, noted that luxury buyers in particular are appreciating
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Italy’s favorable tax conditions. While the pandemic may have ignited the current wave of overseas buyers looking to put their lifestyle and family needs first, this trend is set to continue. There remains strong demand from those looking to escape to Italy’s natural charm and beauty, he said. Rome, Benussi said, is currently experiencing a surge of interest. There has been a significant uptick in property refurbishment and renovation and, while prices are increasing slowly, the city offers affordable options compared to Milan, Paris, Berlin and London. This renovation, he explained, is conducted with the utmost care and oversight to preserve the city’s rich history that is a deep source of national pride.
“More and more people are choosing to move to Italy as they focus on quality of life over anything else.” Marcus Benussi
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The future months will continue with the trend of high demand from abroad, Benussi believes. “This isn’t an escape from COVID anymore,” he said. “It’s turning into a more permanent model for life and family decisions. More and more people are choosing to move to Italy as they focus on quality of life over anything else. With great transport links to the rest of the world, you can still commute from Italy to your main business operations while taking advantage of the amenities and luxury that this country has to offer.”
NO TIME LIKE PRESENT FOR HOT MARKET Portugal has long been an attractive destination for sunseeking vacationers—thanks to its temperate clime, low cost of living and bountiful natural beauty—but more recently, interest has exploded from those looking to relocate or enjoy a second home in the sun. The best time to invest in Portuguese real estate is today. That was the message from Michael Vincent, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Portugal Property, as he detailed the various favorable conditions that the country is currently experiencing. Ranked the sixth safest place in the world by the 2022 Global Peace Index—and enjoying an average of 300 days of sunshine each year— it’s clear Portugal’s demand from overseas investors isn’t slowing down any time soon. Due to strict planning laws, Vincent explained that inventory is particularly tight, and will continue to be so in the coming months.
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Joe Pyke, managing director of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Portugal Property, explained additional reasons why buyers are flocking to the country: “We are seeing buyers from all over Europe and particularly the UK, especially as English is spoken so widely here. We are also seeing an influx of US buyers, especially from
the West Coast—probably because of the like-for-like weather. The cost of living is also very cheap, as are health insurance costs.” Additionally, interest rates are low compared to other countries (currently sitting at 2.58 percent). And, thanks to various financial initiatives and routes to residency—including the D7 visa which allows non-EU buyers to become residents with overseas income, such as a pension or remote work salary—Portugal is becoming a major hub for technology and a variety of startup companies.
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The conditions that are affecting the whole of Europe and beyond—rising construction costs, sanctions on Russia and the pandemic—have led to an increase in housing costs. Yet this isn’t affecting demand.
MEDITERRANEAN ALLURE DRAWS GLOBAL BUYERS Spain’s combination of vibrant cities, beautiful beaches, and diverse countryside has made it a desirable destination for both tourists and second-home owners for decades. The past 18 months has seen a large amount of activity, mirroring the trends seen across Europe and especially the Mediterranean basin, explained
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Ugo Bagration, head of business expansion at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Marbella. Caused in part by the pent-up demand from 2020’s lockdowns, this flurry of activity is finally seeing signs of a slow down in areas such as the Balearic Islands and Marbella, but interest is still much higher than pre-COVID levels.
S PA I N As is the case across much of the globe, Spain is experiencing low inventory, especially in the luxury markets. But Bagration is very optimistic about the future. “We don’t expect activity to be near the levels we saw in 2021 or the first part of 2022, but the Spanish market has been very resilient,” he said. “It’s proving to be a hub and destination for foreign investment within the real estate market.” Bagration noted that, compared to North America, property is much more affordable, which has contributed to an increase in US and Canadian buyers. Spain isn’t without its challenges though, with high taxation rates imposed on the high-net-worth community. “But we are starting to see some changes there and we soon
hope to find the middle ground to compete with neighboring countries regarding fiscal policy,” Bagration said. Expansion-wise, Spain’s Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices operations are incredibly busy. The Marbella team, which joined the fold in 2020, recently opened their second office in the city of Málaga, and plans to expand into the area of Estepona with a third office. And having just opened a new office on the Balearic Island of Mallorca—which caters to a wide spectrum of foreign buyers—the company’s next phase is to open in Costa Brava, the coastal region in the northeast of the country. “We aim to become one of the leading real estate agencies nationwide in the next few years,” Bagration concluded.
GLOBAL HUB BOUNCES BACK The UK’s host of endearing cities, world-famous attractions and lush countryside has kept it a firm favorite among those looking to relocate or invest in property. Capital city London is one of the most visited cities in the world—thanks to its mix of old-world charm, modern infrastructure and abundance of tourist hotspots. Martin Bikhit, managing director of Berkshire Hathaway London Kay & Co and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices London Marler & Marler, says the market is returning postlockdown. “The market is extremely buoyant at the minute,” said Bikhit. Like most major cities around the world during the height of pandemic-related restrictions, London experienced an exodus. Remote workers choose the countryside or wanderlust destinations further afield, resulting in limited activity in the resale and rental markets.
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As the city continues to experience increased interest locally and from abroad, there has been some modest pricing increases that are tipped to continue for the near future. Especially if the US dollar remains at a favorable
exchange rate with the pound sterling. The influx of Americans and those with advantageous, almost unprecedented, exchange rates and spending power in the UK, could certainly continue to move pricing upward. However, Bikhit says inflation issues and the prospect of continued rising interest rates are on the minds of those within the market in the UK. While currently still relatively low, rates are anticipated to rise in the coming months. At the time of publication, the base rate stands at 1.25 percent with the ability to secure a mortgage for about 2.5 percent fixed for two, three or five years.
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With a return of those craving vibrant city life, global relocations and international students, London is seeing an uptick in activity. Those buying are predominantly British, Bikhit explained, noting around 55 percent of recent closed transactions originate from within the country. In the rental market, the majority of those seeking luxury abodes hail from Spain, America and Australia.
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