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Thinking about buying a house in 2015? For expats, the signs are good

Expats paid in US dollars and currencies linked to the US dollar are sitting pretty when it comes to planning their 2015 property purchases in the UK and Europe. Over the last 12 months, as the US economy has recovered and the Eurozone slumped, currencies have moved to reflect these changes. For many Middle Eastern and Far Eastern based expats in centres such as the Gulf, China and Hong Kong, the result of these currency moves has been to deliver an effective and welcome reduction in property prices.

According to foreign currency specialists Worldwide Currencies, one year ago, if you were hoping to buy a dream home in Europe, one US$ would have bought around 74 cents or three quarters of a Euro. Today, that same dollar will buy 84 cents, an improvement of more than 11% or put another way, a price cut of 11% in today’s cost of euro denominated property in countries such as France Spain and Italy.

For those paid in sterling who are planning on taking out a euro mortgage, it is good news again. One pound sterling 12 months ago would have bought around 1.20 euros, whilst today the pound buys 1.28 euros. The pound has held its strength as the UK has recovered, producing a healthy improvement on the situation in March 2013, when a pound typically bought around 1.15 euros.

At the same time international and expat mortgage brokers are reporting further falls in interest rates for French euro mortgages. 10 year fixed rates are now available from just 2.70%, allowing buyers to lock into a high level of repayment security. In the UK, mortgages are available from 4.24% variable.

Commenting on the prospects for the year, Guy Stephenson, a spokesman for said, “For many expats, 2015 could be a good year to add to or start European and UK property portfolios. In the UK, mortgage availability is good, providing a buyer has a deposit of at least 25%. In France, the range of choice remains very large with many lenders asking for just a 15% deposit.  In Spain too, the situation is easing, with long term rates from 3.50% above three month Euribor for tracker type products, whilst the position for Portuguese and Italian buyers is also looking up as lenders there re-enter the market.”

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