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Britons Spend 23bn on a Place in the Sun


A huge demand for homes in the sun has seen Britons' spending on properties overseas increase by 45 per cent in four years.


The number of Britons owning second homes abroad now exceeds a quarter of a million people, at 257,000.


An official report today says British families have invested more than 23 GBP billion in overseas property, with most of that invested in Spain and France although increasing numbers are turning to Canada, the Caribbean and New Zealand.


But people buying villas and apartments have been blamed for soaring house prices in areas of France, Spain and Italy.


Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that more than a million families in England own a second home, the vast majority of which (72 per cent) are in England, with five per cent in Wales and Scotland, and the remainder overseas.


"In recent years the increasing affordability and accessibility of foreign property markets has contributed to a rise in the number of UK households that own second homes abroad," the report, Social Trends, says.


"Between 1999-2000 and 2003-4 the number increased by 45 per cent."

Spain accounted for 27 per cent of all second homes abroad, followed by France at 20 per cent.


But in 2003-4 over a third of all homes owned abroad were outside Europe with almost 154,000 in the United States.


Property ownership was also increasingly common in countries such as Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.


Alex Wright, director of currency specialist HIFX, which assists Britons buying property abroad, said there was strong demand in more adventurous locations.

"Spain and France are still the most popular destinations, but we have seen increased interest for investment property in Bulgaria and Dubai. Even Canada and Switzerland have seen their fortunes rise and new locations pop up all the time, including Egypt, Brazil and central Europe - Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic."



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