Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, and the French are eager to convert their Euros into brick, mortar, concrete, and steel in the United Kingdom and the United States. The consensus among Eurozone investors, as they watch their continental economy lurch from crisis to crisis, is that there are three main safe havens to park their money: Gold. The Swiss Franc. Property in England or America.

by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

Upmarket investment real estate agencies in both the U.S. and the U.K. have noted remarkable increases in web searches for investment properties. Although the Euro has fallen in value compared to the Pound and the Dollar, thus making property more expensive, that has failed to put off wealthy Europeans desperate for a safe haven for their money.

Money Movers in the U.S. and the U.K.

Cities attracting the most interest in 2012 have been New York, London, Washington, and San Francisco, with Sao Paolo, Brazil giving a strong showing as well. The U.S. has been stricken with a rather large foreclosure problem. But, the market seems to have bottomed out and there is big money to be made in purchasing these now undervalued properties. Their worth can only rise.

Of all the types of U.S. commercial real estate, the multifamily sector has not only recovered from the post-2007 real estate slump but rents and occupancy are even stronger than before. After housing, warehouse and distribution centers, office properties, retail properties, and hotels are the main targets of investors. Nearly half of the world’s office stock is located in the US, and more than one third of all commercial real estate investment takes place in US cities.

Looking to the Future

Despite European economics, London remains the top real estate investment pick with more than $43 billion invested in 2010 and the first three quarters of 2011. Over the next ten years, 16 of the top 20 fastest growing mature cities will be in North America. Austin in Texas and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina will be at the top of the list because they are driven by technology, high value activities, and commitment to innovation.

Six of the Top Thirty Cities in America

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, Dallas, and Houston will be among the fastest growing 30 cities in the world. In no real order of appearance, here are another ten sites in the U.S. that an investor may want to consider:

  • Tucson, Arizona – Opportunities for those into buying single-family homes, condominiums, and town homes as investments and turning them into rentals.
  • St. Louis, Missouri – Long-term investors interested in a conservative market find this area attractive as it will promise annual appreciation as the market improves.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina – A vacation town and a college town with lots of interested buyers. Raleigh was the 20th most searched market among realtors this spring.
  • Baltimore, Maryland – Investors should consider buying now for maximum gains on properties. Home prices have bottomed out and can only go up.
  • Austin, Texas – A city with some of the best potential for price growth. Unemployment is low and the area has been a Texan Silicon Valley in terms of the tech businesses that thrive there.
  • San Jose, California – The actual Silicon Valley, growth in jobs has led to a housing shortage. Many residents are renters and rents are mounting. Newly rich techie types are flooding the area.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Unemployment is low, housing inventory is down almost 20%, and it is a market that will recover quickly, ahead of the surrounding American regions.
  • Fort Worth, Texas – Low unemployment compared to the rest of the nation and that is pushing home sales. Trends indicate homes are selling 20 times faster than last year.
  • Kansas City, Missouri – Prices are making a solid rebound across all real estate markets and savvy investors may want to move in here quickly.

London and Surroundings Are the U.K. Real Estate Hot Spots

Some Europeans are buying expensive flats in London and using them as short-term vacation havens and leasing them the rest of the year. Some Europeans are counting on them as retreats should the economics get real sour on the continent. Places investors are giving the hard look include, in no particular order:

  • Limehouse, London
    Nearby Olympics activities have spruced up the infrastructure and it is home to a recovering financial sector in the city.
  • Pencoed, Mid-Glamorgan
    Once an area of hamlets, it now has a community 12,000 strong and growing. Lots of single family dwellings on large lots.
  • Cambridge
    Another Silicon Valley clone, more than 40% of residents have degrees and the area attracts software and scientific research companies. High rents, well-heeled renters.
  • Manchester
    The BBC has relocated here, rail upgrades are coming, so this is becoming a commuter hotspot. One, two, and three-bedroom townhomes.
  • Kew, London
    Already well-known and already fetching high prices is the story of Kew. Plans for extensive new development involve the Kew Village area.
  • Rotherham, Yorkshire
    A coal mining town that has managed to regather itself. Hundreds of new jobs have been created here and a new railway station and huge football stadium are under construction.
  • Birmingham
    A new high-speed link to London promises to jump start development here. The Eastside will see redevelopment based on a 6 Billion Pound investment.
  • Hythe, Kent
    A long waterfront promises fantastic Channel views as well as a wide array of new apartments and houses on the market. Could be a commuter community soon.
  • Elephant and Castle, London
    Location and potential are the fine points now. A 1.5 Billion Pound regeneration project will unfold over the next decade.
  • Woking, Surry
    A 250 Million Pound regeneration project is underway in this community that boasts quality flats, offices, and shops. A commuter haven only 25 miles from central London.

Patrick Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s pioneer and leading providers of Management Courses and certificate iv in training and assessment.

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