As the U.S. Dollar Surges, American Buyers Splurge on European Homes
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As the U.S. Dollar Surges, American Buyers Splurge on European Homes

By J.S. MARCUS
Fri, Sep 2, 2022 9:53amGrey Clock 4 min
Favourable exchange rates and steady property prices have led to big interest in markets like London, Paris and Tuscany

Laetitia Laurent, a South Florida interior designer, has long had her heart set on a Parisian pied-à-terre. This summer, with the dollar soaring and Parisian real-estate prices holding steady, she took the leap. The 42-year-old, who lives in Boca Raton, paid 758,000 euros, or $US758,606, for a 460-square-foot, one-bedroom in the Golden Triangle—the prime residential and commercial area between the Seine and the Champs-Élysées, in the French capital’s pricey 8th arrondissement.

“I had been looking for a place for a long time,” says Ms. Laurent, who plans to use the apartment for work when she visits Paris to source designs for American clients, and for vacations with her husband and three young children. What helped propel her from just looking to outright buying was the strength of the U.S. dollar—“a huge factor” in the purchase, she says—15% over the past year, hovering at or near parity since mid-July.The dollar is rising so much, and so quickly, that Ms. Laurent estimates she saved around $80,000 between the time she first saw the apartment in early 2022 and when she closed in July.

Taking advantage of the most favourable exchange rates in a generation, and reeling from exploding prices at home, buyers are disregarding other sources of instability—including the threat of coronavirus flare-ups, rising interest rates, travel disruptions, and the war in Ukraine—to sink their dollars into European residential real estate, with savings on luxury properties, compared with last year, reaching into seven figures.

Kate Everett-Allen, head of international residential research at London’s Knight Frank, identifies six European markets where American interest is now the most notable: London, Paris, Provence, Tuscany, northern Italy’s Lake Como and Lisbon.

With the exception of Lisbon—where prices rose 11.5% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022—price gains in local currencies are modest to nonexistent in these markets. According to the most recent Knight Frank Global Residential Index, prices in greater London and Paris rose less than 5% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, while prices in Florence, Tuscany’s capital, dropped 1.6% during the same period. By comparison, America dominates the Knight Frank study, with nine of the top 20 spots held by U.S. cities. The top three, Phoenix, Miami and San Diego, have seen prices rise 29% or more. Ms. Everett-Allen points out that, though increases in both London and Paris are modest by American standards, they are both seeing their strongest performance in several years.

Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of foreign exchange and commodities research at Germany’s Commerzbank, says that the current parity between the euro and the dollar is actually somewhat deceptive—making the euro seem stronger than it is. Using the more relevant metric of real purchasing power, he says, “The euro is weaker than it’s ever been.” He credits America’s status as a net energy exporter and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies with helping to strengthen the U.S. currency, and he puts part of the blame for the euro’s weakness on instabilities generated by the war in Ukraine.

Dollar-based buyers can expect the bargains to last. He is forecasting a short-term continuation of current exchange rates, with the euro staying just below the dollar through the end of the year.

The dollar is also soaring against the British pound, allowing London, Europe’s most expensive capital, to become even more attractive to a range of American buyers, says Rory McMullen, head of Savills’ North America desk in the real-estate company’s private office, which specialises in multimillion-pound listings. With the pound hovering around $1.15, the current exchange rate is offering the best opportunity in London for the dollar-based buyer since 2008, he says.

Mr. McMullen says Americans are looking for trophy homes in central London neighbourhoods like Mayfair, Chelsea and Knightsbridge, and are generally less willing to look farther afield in more recently gentrified areas of the city that Londoners themselves might consider the height of luxury, such as Clerkenwell, near the traditional financial district, noted for its Victorian-era lofts.

Savings on high-end London properties can seem mammoth. A 3,229-square-foot, four-bedroom, Savills-listed apartment in Knightsbridge has an asking price of £13 million, or $15.13 million. When it came on the market in mid-January of this year, the price, which has been the same in pounds since listing, was $16.4 million.

Even Americans with more modest budgets are taking notice. Robin Adkins, a Nashville-area business owner, has “fallen in love with Capri,” the Italian island off the coast of Naples. She says she has been thinking about buying for some time, and the new exchange rate means she has increased her budget from around €450,000 up to €500,000, which now converts to $500,000—enough for a starter apartment in high-altitude Anacapri, the island’s exclusive western community, known for its historic villas and hairpin-curve roads. The dollar’s strength has “definitely affected my search,” she says.

Ms. Adkins’s agent, Capri-based Cristina Carrani of Engel & Völkers, says she is starting to see clients from the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest—a first, she adds, in her several years of selling homes on the island.

Elsewhere in Italy, American interest is way up in longtime favourite markets such as Lake Como and Tuscany, but is also finding its way to new areas, says Diletta Giorgolo Spinola, head of residential sales at Italy Sotheby’s International Realty. American second-home buyers are splurging everywhere from Puglia, in the heel of Italy’s boot, to the heart of Milan. She says sales of around $2 million are of greatest interest to her U.S. clients.

Once upon a time, American second-home buyers were eager to find romantic fixer-uppers in places like Tuscany and Umbria, but now, says Ms. Giorgolo Spinola, Italy-minded Americans are looking for turnkey properties “with few exceptions.”

In the Lisbon area, Americans have established a conspicuous presence among buyers in Cascais and Estoril, the plush resort-like suburbs west of the city. Rafael Ascenso, founder and CEO of Porta da Frente, a Lisbon-area Christie’s affiliate, says that Americans now make up a larger portion of his agency’s clientele than any nationality other than native Portuguese and expatriate Brazilians, who have long made up the majority of buyers in the area.

Mr. Ascenso says Americans now have bigger budgets than the Portuguese speakers, with average sales in the €1.7 million, or $1.7 million, range for the first half of the year. Another local real-estate agent, Teresa Almeida Pinto, a sales manager at Portugal Sotheby’s International Realty’s Cascais office, says American buyers tend to break down into two categories: young digital nomads looking for walkability in the densely built-up resort centres, and retirees who may want access to golf courses further out along the Atlantic coast. “We get more and more Americans every day,” she says.



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We reveal the No. 1 areas for price growth in each capital city

By Bronwyn Allen
Thu, Jul 18, 2024 3 min

Home values across Australia rose by a median 8 percent in FY24, delivering the equivalent of $59,000 in new capital growth to the two-thirds of the population that owns a home, according to CoreLogic data. Investors received total returns of 12.2 percent over the year, including capital gains and gross rental income.

Very tight supply and demand in most capital cities except Melbourne and Hobart was a significant driver of the capital growth, with the smaller and more affordable capital cities of Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide experiencing the most price appreciation over the year. A lack of properties for sale trumped the usual dampening effect of higher interest rates.

As usual, some areas outperformed their city’s median growth benchmark. Here are the top SA3 areas for capital growth in each capital city of Australia in FY24. SA3 areas are large suburbs, or districts incorporating clusters of suburbs, with more than 20,000 residents.

 

Sydney

Home values across Sydney rose by a median 6.3 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Mount Druitt. Its median value rose by 13.96 percent to $859,939. Mount Druitt is located 33km west of the CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Mount Druitt, Ropes Crossing, Whalan and Minchinbury. The Mount Druitt community is very multicultural with almost one in two residents born overseas. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the NSW median of 39.

 

Melbourne

Home values across Melbourne rose by a median 1.3 percent in FY24. The top area for capital growth was Moreland-North with 4.71 percent growth. This took the district’s median home value to $746,488. Moreland-North includes the suburbs of Hadfield, Pascoe Vale and Glenroy. It’s a multicultural community with a particularly large contingent of residents with Italian ancestry. One or both parents of 66 percent of residents were born overseas, according to the 2021 Census.

 

Brisbane

Home values across Brisbane rose by a median 15.8 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Springwood-Kingston in Logan City. Its median value swelled by 25.55 percent to $710,569. Springwood-Kingston is approximately 22km south of Brisbane CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Springwood, Kingston, Rochedale South and Slacks Creek. It is a multicultural community with one or both parents of 55 percent of the residents born overseas, according to the 2021 Census. More than 15 percent of residents have Irish or Scottish ancestry.

 

Adelaide

Home values across Adelaide rose by a median 15.4 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Playford in Playford City. Its median value soared by 19.94 percent to $530,991. Playford is approximately 40km north of Adelaide. It incorporates the suburbs of Elizabeth Downs, Elizabeth Grove, Angle Vale and Virginia. It is home to many young people under the age of 40. The median age of residents is 33 compared to the state median of 41.

 

Perth 

Home values across Perth rose by a median 23.6 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Kwinana in Kwinana City. Its median value skyrocketed by 33.19 percent to $618,925. Kwinana is approximately 37km south of Perth CBD. It includes the suburbs of Leda, Medina, Casuarina and Mandogalup. Henderson Naval Base is located here and there is a significant community of servicemen and ex-servicemen living in the area. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the state median of 38.

 

Canberra

Home values across the nation’s capital rose by a median 2.2 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Weston Creek. Its median value rose by 5.24 percent to $937,740. Weston Creek is approximately 13km south-west of the CBD. It includes the suburbs of Weston Creek, Holder, Duffy, Fisher and Chapman. Approximately 43 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is on par with the ACT median but much higher than the national median of 26 percent. Household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median. Almost one in five residents work in government administration jobs.

 

Hobart

Home values across Hobart fell 0.1 percent in FY24. The top performing area for capital gains was Sorell-Dodges Ferry with 2.78 percent growth. This took the area’s median home value to $615,973. Sorell-Dodges Ferry is approximately 25km north-west of Hobart. It incorporates the suburbs of Richmond, Sorell, Dodges Ferry, Carlton and Primrose Sands. The area has a large community of baby boomers and retirees, with the median age of residents being 43 compared to the Australian median of 38.

 

Darwin

Home values across Darwin rose by a median 2.4 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Litchfield. Its median value moved 3.21 higher to $672,003. Litchfield is about 37km south-east of Darwin and includes the suburbs of Humpty Doo, Acacia Hills and Southport.  It has a high proportion of middle-aged residents, with the median age being 39 compared to the territory median of 33. About 12 percent of residents are Indigenous Australians. The biggest industries are government administration and defence. Median household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median.

 

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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