Brits abroad looking for a second home from home

Article date: 30 June 2004

Not having to learn the lingo is one of the most importantfactors for people choosing a holiday home abroad, according to newresearch out today.

More than two in five rated being able to communicateeasily as a very important factor in selecting a second home. Andwhile Spain is still the top dream destination for those polled,English-speaking United States and the UK come a close second andthird for most appealing places to buy.

The Norwich Union Holiday Home poll reveals that nearly threequarters of people dream of owning a second home abroad andthey’d be prepared to pay £130,000 on average for aproperty.

More than two-thirds (70%) say the biggest plus for havinga holiday home would be the ability to share it with family andfriends, followed by the benefits of holidaying in a familiar place(67%).

For three in five of those polled by Norwich Union - which isthe only major insurer to cover second homes as part of an existinghome insurance policy - the main advantage of a place in the sunwould be the chance to escape the British weather.

However, almost four in 10 of those questioned said thatthey’d be most put off buying a second home by the red tape,the complexity of tax and planning laws, and the time involved inpurchasing a property.

Steve Minns, product development manger at Norwich Union, said:"More and more people are being tempted to invest in a place in thesun, thanks to the availability of cheap flights and TV showsfeaturing inspirational stories about people buying their dreamholiday home.

"However, as with any home, there are still the issues ofmaintenance, repairs and making sure it’s safe and secure– especially if the property sits empty for some of the year.And these factors can be easily overlooked in the excitement offinding the right property in a great location."

Norwich Union has compiled a top tip list to help potentialbuyers avoid some of the more common pitfalls when buying aproperty abroad:

  1. Do your homework – don’t act on a holiday whim.Speak to people who currently live in the area, visit out ofseason and investigate the travel options of getting to yourchosen location
  2. Always use qualified professionals who are proficient in yourchosen country’s laws and processes. Find a good solicitorand surveyor fluent in both English and the native tongue
  3. Research all legal issues and costs involved up front.Consider opening a native bank account to ease payment transfers.Check out the tax laws of the country you are buying in as theremay be strict rules if you rent or sell the house
  4. Ensure you don’t inherit a debt on the property beforeyou purchase – unlike in the UK, you could well be liablefor the full amount
  5. If possible arrange your mortgage in the currency that youearn in or agree the exchange rate up front to avoid fluctuatingrate changes
  6. Always allow yourself a cooling off period. Never sign acontract on the spot, especially one you don’tunderstand.

While a quarter of those polled said they’d like to own asecond home in the UK, two thirds say high property prices arestopping them buying here. More than half say they’d considerit, if it wasn’t for the weather or if they received afinancial incentive such as better tax breaks.

Norwich Union is now offering insurance for customers’second homes as long as their main residence is insured with thecompany. It covers homes in the UK, France, Republic of Ireland,mainland Spain and Portugal.


Media contact:
Charlotte Ruddlesdin or Matt Buchanan at QBO BellPottinger 
Tel: 020 7861 2424 

Liz Kennett at Norwich Union 
Tel: 01603 688 263

Editor’s Notes:

It’s estimated that 152,000 people own a second home inGreat Britain and a further 147,000 have properties outside thecountry1. Of those questioned who already have a placeabroad, homes in Spain (15%) and Portugal (9%) are most popular,followed by Cyprus and the United States (at 6%). 

1From The Survey of English Housing 2001/02

About the survey

Norwich Union commissioned a survey of 1,000 UK adults. Thesurvey was run by QRS in May 2004.

Norwich Union

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer with a market shareof around 14%. With a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses, Norwich Union insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in seven motor vehicles
    • more than 800,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre

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