Second homes: A piece of paradise

Whether you dream of a sun-soaked Caribbean hideaway, a Mediterranean bolthole or your own winter wonderland, the idea of owning a holiday home holds undeniable appeal. The experts give us the low-down on making it a reality, and we look at some of the best properties currently on the market

If you’ve browsed estate agent windows while out exploring on holiday or returned after two weeks in the sun dreaming of owning your own home away from home, you’re not alone – the 2021 Census revealed that 736,000 British residents (excluding Scotland) owned a second property abroad, while the Timeshare Consumer Association estimate that there are over 600,000 timeshare owners in the UK. But anyone who has purchased property in this country will know that every transaction comes with its complications, all of which are naturally amplified when buying in an unfamiliar market.

NUMA in Comporta, Portugal, is currently being marketed by Knight Frank

NUMA in Comporta, Portugal, is currently being marketed by Knight Frank

Research is key, not only into where and why you are looking to invest, but also the best ways to finance your purchase, plus any tax implications, local restrictions and risks. This is where expert advice and guidance is invaluable. Home Hunts are luxury buying agents specialising in French property, impartial advisors, they work with HNW clients and celebrities, helping them to choose and purchase the right property. Tim Swannie, director says: “Our team collaborates with all of the best estate agents, notaires, developers and private sellers to provide the ultimate selection of properties in a desired area. Home Hunts work closely with our clients, offering unbiased advice and support throughout the entire buying process and beyond.” For those thinking of purchasing a holiday home, he advises starting with the question of where: “Location is usually right at the top of the list for most people, so you need to really research areas. Don’t just visit at the height of the busy season, do your research about what the area is like in wintertime, what local facilities, amenities, shops and restaurants are available throughout the year. And make sure flights are available also; airlines may only fly that route for the busy holiday period. Ask your agents for their advice, visit local restaurants, markets and shops, and ask around.”

NUMA in Comporta, Portugal, is currently being marketed by Knight Frank
NUMA in Comporta, Portugal, is currently being marketed by Knight Frank

If you are planning on a European purchase, it is worth noting that Brexit has had some implications for second homeowners. “Nothing has changed in terms of the buying process, but the amount of time you can spend there has changed,” Tim tells us. “The rules currently allow non-EU citizens to visit for up to 90 days at a time in any 180-day period, so that means you can spend up to six months a year in the EU, but not all at once, this has to be split throughout the year. This isn’t a big problem for most of our clients, but it means people need to be more organised with their visits.”

Many second homeowners choose to rent their property out when not using it themselves, a decision that makes financial sense. If this is your long-term plan, it pays to take the implications of this into consideration when initially viewing properties. Jamie Marquis, who is co-director of The Luxury Travel Book, which offers a portfolio of holiday rentals in the world’s most sought-after locations advises: “While the location is of course of vital importance, we would recommend carefully considering the property style, too, particularly making sure that if it is more traditional, that all amenities and structural fittings are in working order. As with any property buying, it is always a good idea to have a professional check it over – whether it’s an architect, builder or surveyor, you want to ensure that the building is not only in good condition currently, but that there is potential to expand in the future, or to add any amenities, such as a pool or tennis court. Finally, we would suggest researching current travel trends, and ensuring the property is able to meet some of the most demanded requirements, enhancing its desirability.”


Savills are offering an exquisite home set on the shores of Lake Maggiore

Location and property decided upon, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the purchase process – this is where expert advice is most crucial. “The situation will be different in each country,” Tim points out. “In France, for example, the notaire fees that you pay when you a buy a home (approximately seven per cent of the purchase price) are mainly made up of taxes which includes the French equivalent of Stamp Duty. The notaire takes around one per cent for their work and legal support, the rest is tax. If you require a mortgage, I would suggest using a broker to search the lending market to find the best deal for you. For example, it is possible to take a loan in France, most French banks are open to lending to UK citizens and some of them have specific English-speaking sections to help UK buyers (who still make up a sizeable percentage of their business). We work with independent brokers for mortgages for France because interest rates are constantly changing, and banks offer different deals.”

Home Hunts are marketing this luxurious villa on the French Riviera

Purchase completed, when it comes to arranging and facilitating rentals, there are more considerations to be made, Jamie says: “It is highly beneficial to have a trusted team on the ground – from a villa manger, to cleaners, and a key holder – not only to maintain the property, but also to help with any issues that may arise.” As luxury villa rental specialists, The Luxury Travel Book offer a highly flexible service to property owners and can be as involved as a property owner likes them to be. “We specialise in marketing our properties, via various channels and activities,” Jamie explains. “With our well-connected network in each of the destinations we have properties, we can help source photographers, cleaning teams, check-in teams and more. We can also supply local recommendations along with access to our bespoke app that is available to all our clients.”;


Tempted to invest in your own place in the sun?

Take a look at some of the best properties for sale across the world: