Surge in Britons’ search for properties abroad

The volume of searches by Britons for homes located overseas has surged amid the coronavirus lockdown, according to property website Rightmove (RMV.L), with Spain, France and Portugal the most popular destinations.

Searches on Rightmove Overseas were up by a third (33%) in May compared with May 2019.

In April, earlier on in the coronavirus lockdown period, searches for overseas homes were also up 18% compared with a year earlier.

The Costa del Sol, Ibiza, Brittany, Normandy, the Loire Valley, the Algarve and Lisbon were also among popular hotspots.

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“The surge is a mixture of people seriously thinking of buying a holiday home, those contemplating a relocation, and some who are dreaming of a trip abroad after their holiday was cancelled,” the company said.

Rightmove’s property expert Miles Shipside said: “Lockdown has allowed many people time to re-appraise their lives… Social distancing would be far more straightforward if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford your own overseas pad.”

“It’s still early days as we’re not out of lockdown yet and most airlines are still shut, but this is an indication that this has been a life-changing period for many,” he added.

The report also noted that people browsing Rightmove continue to dual-screen (home-hunting on a phone or tablet whilst watching TV), with searches for Ibiza up 174% compared to last May, thanks to a new Netflix show called White Lines that is set on the Spanish island.

Some previous housing market reports have also suggested that UK house hunters are considering moves to the countryside as they expect to spend more time working from home in the future.

Meanwhile, last month, the number of homes sold in April nearly halved compared with March across the UK, HM Revenue and Customs figures showed.

An estimated 46,440 residential property transactions took place last month, down by 46.1% compared with 86,200 sales in March.

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