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Is now the right time to buy a holiday home abroad?


Mike and Christine, a couple from the English Midlands, had agreed the sale and paid the deposit on a beautiful villa in Vence, between Nice and Cannes. They had even bought a car to drive in France. 


The day after they signed the contract, however, all over-70s were told to self-isolate at home by the UK government to minimise their risk of catching Covid-19. The couple — who did not want to give their real names — got cold feet and pulled out of the deal. 


Like those of many people, Mike and Christine’s plans for buying a second home in warmer climes were thwarted by coronavirus, which has led to travel restrictions and lockdowns all over the world — and brought international property transactions to a halt.


The couple say they are now taking time to reassess their options. It is not necessarily a bad thing that they pulled out of the deal: with the pound regaining some strength against the euro since the middle of March, by mid-April the property would have been £87,000 cheaper, thanks to the exchange rate. 


“I am still confident we will get this one over the line, when the time’s right,” says their broker, Serge Cowan, founder of the Unique Living Network, which sells luxury property around the world. 


Judging when might be the right time to invest in an overseas property is difficult. With airline fleets grounded globally and countries imposing — or considering imposing — extended quarantine periods for travellers, what will happen to the international holiday-home market this year? Will 2020 see deals dry up — or is now the time to buy a beautiful Tuscan villa at a bargain price?


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