©istockphoto.com / SimonDannhauer
Government-sponsored incentives are drawing retirees to Panama.
From superior benefits for retirees and an assortment of visa options, to the captivating sights and real estate options available, there is much to see and even more to experience as a resident of Panama.
For retirees in particular, the benefits offered through Panama’s programs have crowned it as “one of the top retirement destinations in the world,” according to Stephanie Villarreal, president and Realtor for Your Panama Real Estate Connection. She notes that the government-sponsored “Jubilado” retirement program provides impressive discounts on a range of expenses, including dental/eye exams, medical consultations, restaurant bills, airline tickets and even car purchases. What is needed to qualify is an annuity/pension-like income of $1,000 USD per month. Having good, affordable medical services like, amongst others, the Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospital in Panama City is another added benefit, Villarreal says. New residents find themselves taking on the Panamanian lifestyle in no time at all.
The process of immigrating to Panama is relatively simple as well, Villarreal says, and with the help of experienced law professionals, the process is straightforward and easy.
Basilica of the Mother of God is prominent in Casco Viejo, where churches dating back hundreds of years blend with activities for those of all ages.
Photo ©istockphoto.com / rchphoto
“We work alongside attorneys to assist our clients with immigration and residency,” she adds. The Panama Friendly Nations Visa, for example, is also a popular special immigration program for citizens of selected countries who have professional or economic ties with Panama.
Those exploring their immigration options should also understand the differences in lifestyle of Panamanians, from “slower pace of life” to the fact that Spanish is the country’s main language. However, every difference also offers an opportunity to learn and experience the unique nuances of Panama. “Things in Panama move slower than in North America and Europe,” says Villarreal, “but with our team’s extensive knowledge and experience of how things work in Panama, we can assist our clients to adjust to life in the country.”
Adjusting to life in Panama can come easily with the help of the right brokerage team who will help guide potential buyers to their dream home or neighborhood. Villarreal says her team recommends that buyers should visit the country first to get a feel for what Panama is all about. “There are established ‘expat’ communities in Panama City, various communities at the beaches … there are many clubs offering get-togethers, bingo, Spanish courses and more.”
Add this to the plethora of good restaurants, cafes and bars amidst the cobblestone roads and churches of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old quarter, and the amazing beaches and archipelagos, and there’s too much to fit into one trip. So, perhaps, make it a trip to last the rest of your life?
The finest property in Portugal, in the most prestigious location in the country, has been put on the market – and it could be yours!
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Portugal offers Quinta de Lago, one of the most exciting and exclusive resorts in Europe, boasting some of the most spectacular and beautiful villas in the Algarve. Founded in 1972, this 800-acre residential estate borders miles of golden coast along the Atlantic Ocean, with views of sprawling pine forests and some of the world’s top golf courses. You can rest assured this area will remain pristine, with a strict 8 percent building restriction as part of the UNESCO Ria Formosa bird sanctuary, ensuring your investment will prosper for years to come.
On over 44,000 square feet of land, with over 16,000 square feet of living space, this 8 bedroom villa includes high-quality kitchens with full equipment, a 4-level glass electric elevator, and full fitness equipment. Enjoy a movie with friends and family in the 12-person theater with 4 Control system touchpanels, and Lutron light switches and thermostats. A wine gallery freezer in the basement is stocked with top Portugeuese wines and champagne, and drinks can be enjoyed in the basement bar lounge.
.Six indoor and outdoor gas fireplaces provide ambience, and the villa is decorated with top indoor and outdoor furnishings. Enjoy the luxurious outdoors with 3 heated pools and an outside lounge, and top garden Quinta landscaping. With spectacular views, amazing amenities and dazzling details, this luxurious villa is sure to impress. €20,000,000
Photos courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Portugal.
A closer look at distinguishing qualities between Scotch and Bourbon.
by Chantele Machado
Throughout the world, there are several types of whisky, or whiskey; though among them all, Scotch and bourbon are two of the most beloved varieties. And while they do share some commonalities, their differences are immense, from the ingredients and flavor profiles to the distillation and aging process.
Contrary to popular belief, bourbon whiskey is not required to be distilled inside the state of Kentucky. It can, in fact, be made anywhere throughout the United States. Although, Kentucky makes an ideal location due to the state’s famous limestone water, which is rich in nutrients like magnesium and calcium that are optimal for distilling and aids in the fermentation process. Conversely, in order to bear the title Scotch whisky, the spirit must be produced, as well as bottled, within the country of Scotland. Across the nation are five distinguished whisky-producing regions; the Highlands and Islands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown, each delivering their own regional characteristics and unique flavors.
Speyside is by far the biggest whisky–producing region in Scotland with more than 50 distilleries, while Campbeltown is home to merely three.
To qualify as a bourbon whiskey, its mash bill must be made up of at least 51% corn, with the remainder comprising a mix of other cereal grains like malted barley, rye and wheat. The spirit must also be free from any additives, such as coloring or flavoring, as to maintain an authentic and unadulterated profile. In contrast, the primary ingredient in Scotch whisky is barley. Grain whisky can vary with a combination of ingredients like malted and unmalted barley, corn and wheat.
malt whisky, on the other hand, must be produced from 100% malted barley. Additionally, Scotch cannot be sweetened or contain any additives other than plain caramel for coloring.
In bourbon making, the mash bill will ferment for several days before being transferred into a column still with all the original grain solids remaining in the mixture. The resulting liquid, called distiller’s beer, is then boiled, vaporizing the alcohol through the top of the column and directing it into a doubler, where it is distilled once more to remove any further impurities.
The remnants and spent grain left behind in the column still, termed as sour mash, is sometimes reintroduced into the fermentation process to make sour mash bourbon, another variety of whiskey. While bourbon whiskey is allowed to be distilled up to 160 proof, the distillate must be reduced to 125 proof or lower prior to barreling, as required by law. Alternatively, in Scotch distillation, what is referred to as wort is separated from its spent barley grains before beginning its fermentation process.
After spending two to four days in containers called wash backs, the liquid produced during fermentation is distilled first in a wash still to boil off the alcohol from the water, yeast and pot ale. The remaining distillate, known as low wines, then passes into a second spirit still to be distilled another time. Before being barreled, the foreshots and feints of the whisky are both channeled off to be redistilled with the low wines in the next batch. Only the pure center cut, or heart of the run, which averages around 130 proof, is collected.
Terms to Know
The alcohol that evaporates from a cask as the whisky is maturing in a warehouse.
A tall industrial still that uses steam injection and allows for continuous, mechanized distillation that produces a cleaner spirit than a pot still does.
A type of copper pot still commonly used in conjunction with a column still for the second round of distillation, especially for bourbon.
The more volatile compounds which distil off first during Scotch distillation.
The oilier compounds that are vaporized during Scotch distillation.
The mixture of grains used to make bourbon.
A compressed organic substance consisting of grasses, plants, tree roots and mosses that is used to dry malted barley and infuses a distinct peaty flavor.
A style of copper still that is most common in the distillation of single malt whisky.
The second, and often smaller, pot still used in the distillation of Scotch.
The first, and often larger, pot still used in the distillation of Scotch.
The spelling used by American and Irish distilleries.
The spelling used by Scotland, Canada, India, Japan and most of the rest of the world.
A warm and sugary solution that contains the soluble sugars from the malted barley dissolved in warm water.
Generally speaking, bourbon does not have a minimum aging require-ment, although, for a spirit to have the distinction of a ‘straight bourbon,’ it must be aged for at least two years. In addition, any bourbon aged less than four years must include an age statement on its label. Bourbon whiskey must also, by law, be aged in new charred oak barrels, which greatly contributes to the color characteristics and aging process.
This is a key difference in that Scotch distilleries have a large amount of freedom in choosing from a range of casks for which to age their spirits, including those which formerly contained wine, port, sherry and cognac, among others. This wide selection of vessels is part of tradition and allows distillers greater creative experimentation, having given rise to the method of finishing Scotch in secondary barrel; a common practice used today. And while several Scotch whiskies are aged for as many as 12, 15 and even 25 years, the minimum years for which a Scotch must be aged is three years.
Kentucky’s hotter climate results in more of the whiskey evaporating away as “the angel’s share” than is the case in Edinburgh, so aging a barrel of whiskey in Kentucky for 25 years pro- duces far less whiskey than would be the case in Scotland, and therefore a more rarefied product.
Bourbon’s high proportion of corn lends the spirit to have a sweeter flavor profile compared to that of many other whiskeys, especially Scotch. Without the elements of added flavors or coloring, much of a bourbon’s character relies heavily upon the charred surface of new oak barrels from which it often develops oaky, vanilla and caramel notes.
Scotch is much more complex and boasts a greater range of flavors than bourbon, given the wider cask selection, opportunity for blends and the age-old regions throughout Scotland renowned for flavors distinct to them. Whiskies that come from the Highlands and Speyside are better known for a lighter, fruitier and sweeter profile than that of a robust, smoky and peaty beast from Islay. The Lowlands often produce mellow drams with floral tones, and the peninsula of Campbeltown is noted for the dryness and sometimes pungency of its Scotch.
All photos courtesy LuxuryRealEstate.com
©istockphoto.com / SL_Photography
From tropical escapes to spectacular biodiversity and marine life, Panama has great appeal to buyers interested in luxury real estate.
Stephanie Villarreal, President and Realtor of Your Panama Real Estate Connection, says that one of the most unique aspects of the country is in their very name — connection. “Panama is very connected … amongst others, Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport is known as the ‘Hub of the Americas,’ making Panama very easy to get to,” she says. The connection also extends into a selling point, especially for American buyers, as Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, unlike other Central and South American countries.
Panama’s accessibility via air and sea helps to deepen its connections internationally. Because of this, according to Villarreal, the country’s diversity is far reaching, as many Americans, Canadians, Europeans and others have chosen Panama as their preferred retirement destination, or have purchased real estate and live either part-time or full-time in the country. A recent real estate trend in Panama also includes more international buyers, particularly from mainland China. “There are many well-known multinational corporations with regional headquarters in Panama City as well as embassies of many countries,” Villarreal notes.
Luckily for interested buyers, there is plenty of inventory in a range of property options. Villarreal and her brokerage work with listings in many regional areas with different unique characteristics, from highland properties and waterfront listings to island living options. Elegant Panama City apartments in luxury residential buildings are especially appealing, created by reputable architects and builders into “property masterpieces.”
These masterpieces continue to grow in number and variety. For example, the exclusive Santa Maria development in Panama City is being further developed — it boasts an 18-hole Nicklaus-design golf course, and the city’s historic district, Casco Viejo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Villarreal also mentions that there are several unique private island options with modern conveniences, including state-of-the-art marinas.
Giuseppe Tomasetti, a former international business lawyer and the founder of Tomasetti Family Winery, has been selected as the featured speaker for the 13th Annual Luxury Real Estate International Symposium. The esteemed event will take place January 16th through the 18th in Milan at The Westin Palace, where Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate members will convene to share with other leaders in the industry, network with top real estate professionals and build their global referral network.
Since 2015, Giuseppe Tomasetti has been a full-time farmer and wine producer at the Tomasetti Family Winery, a boutique winery he established with his family in Santa Croce di Polesine, in the Bassa Parma region of Italy, in 2006. Although prior to his vintner years, much of his life was spent in the U.S. He received his JD degree from George Washington University and served as legal counsel to US House and Senate politicians followed by his own practice emphasizing in area mergers and acquisitions as well as international corporate tax and finance.
Drawing on his years of experience in cross-border commercial agreements and acquisitions that sometimes required as many as five jurisdictions, Giuseppe Tomasetti will address the present state of the luxury real estate market from three perspectives. He will examine common errors Europeans and Americans tend to make outside their respective markets. Tomasetti will also discuss external influences, such as the profound effect the generational passage has already had on the market along with the matter of weather and how significant of a role it can play.
Photos courtesy of LuxuryRealEstate.com.
FROM JIMI HENDRIX’S ELECTRIC LADY STUDIOS IN NEW YORK CITY TO GRAMMY-WINNING PRODUCER PAUL EPSWORTH’S THE CHURCH STUDIOS IN LONDON, THE ARTIST-DRIVEN RECORDING STUDIO IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF POPULAR MUSIC.
Vibrant spaces designed with the artist in mind, studios like these have become commonplace in North America and Europe where the shared appetite for popular music has created something of an arm’s race, as each studio tries to pack in the latest technology and attract the best artistic talent.
A name that may soon be added to this list is Beijing’s 55TEC, a brand new studio that is currently dominating the Chinese pop charts with a string of chart-topping hits, and is turning China’s recording industry into a global competitor.
55TEC, designed by the world renowned acoustic design firm Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG), is answering China’s appetite for pop, an appetite that has been pushed into overdrive by its growing young population and recent economic strides into cosmopolitan status.
A New York-based firm, WSDG has built its reputation on sterling room design in recording studios and live performances spaces across the world. “WSDG knows how to make a world class studio,” explains Li You, head engineer and owner of 55TEC.
“Our clients have been very pleased with the look, sound quality, and vibe of our live and control rooms. This is all due to WSDG’s design work.”
The studio has boasted almost 30 charting singles in its first 18 months of operation and is showing no sign of slowing down. Its latest triumph is a song by action movie superstar Jackie Chan, which has currently spent 18-weeks at #1 on the Chinese pop charts. Chan’s hit song, “Nothing Is The Same As Before,” has become a compelling calling card that is drawing new talent to 55TEC.
“For the artist, the choice of recording studio is crucial,” Li You notes. “They need a place that inspires their performances and makes them feel like they can do their best work.”
Photos courtesy WSDG.
Nunzio DeSantis, who designed more than 60,000 hotel rooms during his 34 years with global architecture firm HKS, opened a new hospitality architecture firm in Dallas with next generation architect and son Marc DeSantis.
Award-winning architect Nunzio DeSantis and his son Marc DeSantis have launched a specialized hospitality architecture firm, Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects. Located in Dallas’ ultra-chic Design District, NMDA brings architectural individuality to international resorts, hotels, spas and restaurants.
In only nine months since opening, NMDA has secured the work of nearly 30 different projects in some traditionally hard barriers-to-entry locations, such as Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Charleston, South Carolina. While many firms are constantly looking to increase breadth of projects, NMDA goes against the grain with its commitment to staying small and focusing solely on hospitality.
Among other accomplishments, Nunzio — who designed more than 60,000 hotel rooms during his 34 years with global architecture firm HKS — played an integral role in the Cabo San Lucas hospitality boom. He designed notable resorts that have shaped the destination, including Las Ventanas al Paraiso, One & Only Palmilla, Esperanza Auberge Resort and Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort.
Co-founder and designer Marc DeSantis’ architecture training at the University of Notre Dame and years at Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York brings a structured and classical perspective to NMDA. The discipline gained under Stern’s tutelage shaped Marc’s aesthetic and attention to detail, which he imparts on the agency’s younger staff. “Many young architects today are taught about form, not how buildings are put together,” he said. “We teach young designers what makes a building real.”
Photo courtesy of Liane Swanson
In recent years, Panama often makes the list as a country appealing to foreign buyers in the real estate market, especially from the U.S. Some benefits include the country’s climate, its varied landscape and a low cost of living — including “low taxes, low homeowner’s insurance and cheap monthly maintenance,” says Michael Flora, owner of World Panama Real Estate Marketing for over 10 years.
It’s no surprise a booming locale is Panama City, which offers luxurious high-rise properties or homes at significantly lower prices than most major cities. “Panama City attracts more international buyers’ attention for reasons of employment relocation, with some of the biggest corporate offices that reside in the city,” says Flora.
Yet, Flora finds that most American buyers are purchasing properties in beach areas — those of Nueva Gorgona and Coronado, rather than “busy, congested city life. There are also many that like cooler mountain living in such areas as Boquete or El Valle,” he says.
“An up and coming hot spot is the area of Pedasi or the surf town of Playa Venao, which attract many buyers looking for the more active lifestyle surrounded by nature,” says Flora.
“There is a big American presence in Nassau and the Abacos,” says Tim Rodland, broker for the MCR Bahamas Group. A 120-mile-long chain of popular paradisal islands, The Abacos has demonstrated to be one of the fastest growing economies in the Bahamas, most primarily driven by boating and trade, and one of the top locations to which Americans are drawn.
“The Bahamas has had a very rich history of attracting high-net-worth buyers. We have a lot of millionaires and billionaires. It’s been a playground for Hollywood,” says Rodland. “It’s easy to get here from New York City and the Northeast. We’re just a two and half hour flight away; we’re on eastern standard time and the U.S. dollar; and we’ve got sun, sand and the sea, boating, fishing and beautiful waters.”
Rodland sees a lot of South Floridians buying on Bimini, the closest point in the Bahamas to the U.S., and the Berry Islands. And the range of property is diverse — from $500,000 to $10 million-plus; it all depends on the lifestyle you’re looking for.
“A lot of people are coming here for investment purposes, in which case it’d be best to purchase near an international airport,” advises Rodland. “But we also have a lot of islands that are more remote, appealing to those who want to be on a Cay by yourself and just turn your phone off to relax.”
“As small as Costa Rica is, it really offers tremendous variety for U.S. buyers across the board,” says Todd Cutter, broker with 2Costa Rica Real Estate. “There are U.S. buyers who are ‘resort buyers,’ those who want to buy within a larger, gated community with a golf course and a marina. And then you have lifestyle buyers.”
“Costa Rica’s transition from a sleepy coastal retreat to a world-class destination of resorts and residential villas — combined with its rich natural attributes — are thrusting the country forward as a desirable destination for the most discerning travelers in the U.S.,” says Amy Davis, sales director for Rosewood Residences Puerto Papagayo, which will offer 45 exclusive residences ranging from $450,000 to $3.2 million. “Due to its location on the northern Guanacaste shoreline with the most sought-after beaches, and as the first Rosewood in the country, it’s the idyllic setting for all things luxury.”
“The biggest difference with the North Pacific and southern destinations is climate and activities. It’s typically more of a drier area of the country,” says Cutter. “You find gorgeous beaches there, but you don’t see as much of the quintessential rainforest meets beach, which some people envision when they come to Costa Rica.”
For U.S. buyers focused on the south, Cutter sees them going to three main areas — Manuel Antonio, Jaco and Dominical. “Manuel Antonio is the number one tourist destination, with multiple beaches, the number one national park in the country and a plethora of activities. A lot of buyers looking there are getting high returns from a rental perspective because of the finite supply and demand,” he says.
“Jaco is a surf destination, with a great nightlife and developed infrastructure. This is the only destination you will see high-rise beachfront condominiums and user-friendly restaurants and artisan places. Dominical is like the final frontier; for those looking to get off the beaten path. People are buying acreage and building jungle villas amongst the flora and fauna, with dramatic ocean views,” Cutter says.
“The appeal of Italy as a beacon for realty investments stems from the realization that Italy is considered a universal destination for worldwide investors,” says Meucci. “One can invest in a holiday chalet in Cortina for the winter and, just as easily, own a property on the white beaches of Porto Cervo’s Emerald Coast in Sardinia.”
Although Meucci reports that Italy is currently in a buyer’s market, main cities that Americans are buying in, such as Florence, Rome and Milan, demonstrate stable, if not rising prices. “Bear in mind, Italy is not cheap. Rather than saving money, U.S. citizens appreciate that Italy offers properties and living standards that will be worth investing in,” he says. Other areas in demand include Lake Como and Liguria.
“If it is a leisure investment, U.S. citizens tend to look for genuine Italian living. They want somewhere that can offer a taste of that dolce vita style of life, which is a combination of living in a country that is historically unique, and that can allow you to live in households that are centuries old, and at the same time enjoy all the comforts of modern life.”
Some of the most underrated and “unexploited areas for investment” are the border areas between Tuscany and Umbria — Cortona, Montepulciano and the Trasimeno Lake areas that lead on toward Perugia,” says Meucci.
“Because of a strong international demand for Swiss real estate, our country has historically restricted the sale of residential homes to foreigners,” says Quentin Epiney, founder of Comptoir Immobilier Exclusive Properties. “Only certain designated areas, such as ski resorts and the city of Montreux allow the sale of residential units to foreigners as secondary homes.”
While the restrictions do not extend to commercial real estate, residential restrictions have prompted Geneva and Zurich to be regarded as prime locations. Epiney brings to attention the Lake Geneva region as well as the “Valais” alpine region, as “some of the most beautiful and accessible regions, with breathtaking scenery and close to the Geneva International Airport.”
A particular ski resort that has gained significant property value in recent years is Grimentz (Val d’Anniviers, Valais), a village that has “not yet been over-developed like is the case of certain world-famous resorts,” says Epiney. Another location, Montreux, is “a truly international hub on the shores of Lake Geneva, with magic scenery and sunsets over the lake.”
“Swiss property value is among the most stable on the planet,” Epiney adds. “This is related to the fact that Swiss political stability has allowed the country and its currency to be perceived as a safe haven, more so in a global context of economic and political uncertainty.”
“Americans tend to prefer areas that are well known and ‘tried and tested,’ such as South Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill,” says Bernadette Teuma of Coldwell Banker Southbank Estate Agents. “According to figures from the Office of National Statistics (rounded to the nearest 1,000), Westminster tops the league for US citizens living in London, with roughly 7,000 of them residing in the borough. Southwark, which includes the cultural areas of Southbank, Bankside and London Bridge, as well as Kensington and Chelsea and Camden all come in joint second place with around 5,000 residents from the USA each.”
“Unlike European buyers, Americans seem to have more of an appreciation for our wonky, characterful period houses, even if they are shocked by the lack of space,” says Teuma, of these properties you can find mostly in Kensington, Nottinghill and Chelsea. Another appealing option for US buyers may be the “new, well-designed high-rise apartments that line the Southbank of the river” that may come with amenities Americans are used to, such as parking, air-conditioning, under-floor heating and extra storage.
As for investments, Teuma sees that properties from £1-1.5 million remain a popular investment choice. “Overseas buyers are paying around 15 percent less for a property in London than a year ago, meaning that no is the perfect time to invest. Following the fall in the pound due to the Brexit vote and the subsequent ‘flash crash,’ London property has never been cheaper for purchasers buying in US dollars,” she says. “We have received a 30 percent increase in sales from US buyers in the last 12 months. Exchanging US dollars to British pounds is saving US buyers thousands of pounds, and in many cases, cancels out the cost of stamp duty.”
Always a hotspot for international buyers, especially Americans, is central London. “London prices are high because people want to live here. Jobs, transport infrastructure, culture; the capital is a buzzing metropolis. A seemingly endless supply of skilled, upwardly mobile people flow there from all over the world. London is where most Americans wish to be, either because of their work or their studies…” says Teuma.
Yet, according to Teuma, there are underrated or potentially more valuable areas to purchase in, besides the popular, expensive spots. “Americans should look in Nine Elms where the new US embassy will be relocated, and the Southbank area for all its culture and close proximity to West End, shopping, the Financial District, and for the well universities namely London School of Economics, University College London and Kings College.”
“For undervalued areas and where to look for value, my suggestions for first-time buyers, families trading up and those who are new to the capital include the following: Canonbury, Finsbury Park, Marylebone, Bayswater, City Road, Earls Court, White City, Stratford, Honor Oak Park Woolwich, Acton, Maida Vale, Bloomsbury, Streatham and Camberwell.”
Michael Keating, of Michael Keating International a pioneer for the international high-end sales for Australia more than 20 years has done sales in some of the most sought-after expensive areas of Melbourne, from Toorak, to South Yarra, to East Melbourne and Brighton.
“Voted again and again the best city in the world in which to live, Melbourne is Australia’s most European city. It’s Paris meets London with the best food and coffee culture of Italy, Hong Kong and Bombay and the friendliness of Dublin,” says Keating.
Today, he specializes on properties on the Mornington Peninsula, one of the most promising areas for luxury real estate in the country. “This is Australia’s weekender and holiday home mecca for the well-to-do and the famous,” says Keating. “It is a unique and very condensed location where some of the luckiest and wealthiest property owners from around the USA and the world own very tightly held real estate.”
“When you take all of the natural beauty and amenities away, you come back again to the peninsula’s location, so close to Austral Asia’s world city. Voted again and again the best city in the world in which to live, Melbourne is Australia’s most European city. It is Paris meets London with the best food and coffee culture of Italy, Hong Kong and Bombay and the friendliness of Dublin. Built on a block system, it is simple to navigate and all year around Melbourne is immersed in nightlife from casino to opera and everything in-between.”
“The clincher for overseas buyers is always safety… Australia is a very stable western democracy which offers transparency, accountability and an educated English-speaking populace with first-class educational and health facilities at all levels, in the heart of Asia,” says Keating. “It is the gateway to Indonesia, Malaysia, India and China,” he adds.
Price-wise, Keating often handles homes ranging from AU$3 million to AU$40 million for a Portsea Cliff Top vacation home or a Toorack Mansion; AU$10 million for a vineyard property on the Mornington Peninsula; or AU$4 million to AU$15 million for waterways properties on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
“In the past 2 years we have seen an increasing number of Americans purchasing in Spain,” says Francois Carriere, CEO of Coldwell Banker Spain. “They are mainly attracted to the climate, lifestyle, gastronomy and the still reasonable prices due to the big crisis our country suffered from 1998 to 2012, where we have seen a turning point in the market falling price.”
A major draw for buyers is Costa del Sol and the coastal towns Malaga and Marabella as well as the surrounding villages. “This resort destination is one of the few locations in Spain where you can find new, big residential projects offering the same kind of service and amenities that American clientele are expecting, such as large, residential condominiums,” says Carriere.
Unsurprisingly, other attractive locales are Barcelona and Costa Brava, which is a short drive north of the country’s capital, offering a rural destination with plenty of outdoor activities. “This is a fantastic family or destination for countryside lovers or beach lovers,” says Carriere. “People call it the little Tuscany by the sea.” Carriere sees the authenticity of Barcelona as a major draw to buyers: “…the architecture, enormous choices of any type of restaurant, leisure activities, exciting nightlife, cosmopolitan city, offering a unique setting including beach, mountain and city interest. Mix of modernity, sophistication and authenticity; with Old Town, central Barcelona or a location by the sea such as Barceloneta.”
Yet for those looking for nightlife and an unbeatable club scene, buy on Ibiza, which “is becoming the new Saint Tropez,” say Carriere. “It’s more affordable even if prices are increasing very fast especially in the luxury segment. It’s not rare to see properties above 5 and 10 million euros today on the island.”
“In France, we see American buyers on the French Riviera, like Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, getting beautiful waterfront villas. You also see Americans in the Loire region, in central France which is a countrified setting that offers charm and authentic properties with wide open spaces for relaxing,” says Vanda Demeure of Coldwell Banker Demeure Prestige of France and Monaco. “And, of course [Americans] go to Paris, the city of lights, always much-esteemed by foreigners.”
Demeure believes that Americans, when purchasing in France, are most seeking an authentic French lifestyle. “[They] like the possibility to get a baguette and croissant by just walking across the street, to enjoy a good glass of wine around a cheese board,” she says. “They are also attracted by the rentability; France is a good place to invest. A property will always be more expensive on resale.”
A “pied à terre” with around 2 bedrooms in a nice district of Paris will go for around 1 million euro, while a bigger luxury flat will cost anywhere between 3 to 5 million euros. On the French Riviera, the price of a comfortable unit in St. Tropez will be around two-thirds of a million euros, yet bigger houses with sea views will be more. The peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat sees much more expensive prices. “We find a targeted clientele, really selective, because the price by square meeter is the highest of the French Riviera. A villa is worth 20, 30, 50 million, even more…”
Demeure notes that Americans are buying both in the city and in rural locations. “It totally depends on the taste and age of buyers. Some of them prefer tranquility of rural locations and buy a property with a country setting, land and calm. Others prefer a nice flat in the center of the city, with shops nearby — the French bistro, bars, theatre and cinema. They prefer a lively and vibrant neighborhood.”
Unsurprisingly, the most desired city to reside in is Paris and Demeure has advice regarding where US buyers should look. “They should look at the oldest districts of Paris, like 1st and 2nd (Louve, Rivoli) with beautiful Hausmannian building and a lot of historic monuments. The Marrais, 3rd/4th district with typical “medieval” buildings. The 8th district, Triangle d’Or: The Champs-Élysées, Montaigne avenue with all luxury shops, five stars hotel, and wealthy foreigners.”
“In the 18th district, Montmartre, the artistic district of Pairs has a small paved street, village spirit, lot of musicians, painters… really touristic! They should also look at the 6th district, Saint Germain Des Prés, renowned for its cafés like Les Deux Magots and Café Procop or for le Bon Marché: a big french store. And to finish, île Saint-Louis, with nobles buildings of 17/18th century with high ceilings, moldings, wood beams with marquetry. Each building as his own story, that’s Paris magic.”