European property investment risk

Amanda Jarvis

March 10, 2003

This is according to research on the European housing market by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Most countries in Europe have already experienced rapid house price growth and are now stabilising, according to the report. Only the UK, Spain and Ireland continue to benefit from larger growth figures. So although properties might look cheap in some parts of Europe when compared with the UK many of these markets have already run out of steam.

Some countries have witnessed fast growth in their buy-to-let markets as European governments reduce the amount of social housing available in favour of privately rented accomodation. For example, 36% of Dutch people are in social housing but the country has a policy of increasing home ownership. Currently around 55% of Dutch people own their own homes but the government wants to increase this to 65 percent by 2010. This will reduce the need for social housing.

The RICS report states the large number of Britons buying second homes on the continent is not likely to affect house prices in those areas as second homes are never more than 10% of a housing market. “To a certain extent the holiday home market is detached because its more influenced by the economy in other countries (such as the UK). It is the Barcelonas and Madrids that have been driving this housing boom not the Malagas.”

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