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Cape Town In World’s Top 5 Second Home Hotspots

A new study conducted by estate agent comparison site GetAgent has revealed the most in-demand locations to buy a second property in, and Ireland tops the list as the world’s ‘second home hotspot’.

Global searches for second home purchases hit an all-time high in the summer of 2020, however since the pandemic, there’s been a significant uplift in the number of people purchasing a second property – either in the country they’re already living in, or further afield.

Reasons for buying a second home can range from wanting to make a savvy real estate investment, owning a place in which families and loved ones can spend time together, or simply having a base to escape everyday life.

To find out where in the world homeowners want a second home the most, the property experts analysed global search data for terms such as ‘second home in [location]’ and ‘holiday home in [location]’, revealing that countries including Ireland, New Zealand and UK are some of the trending second home hotspots for 2024.

Top 10 Global Second Home Hotspots (Cities)

As well as looking at the countries which are most in-demand for second homes, GetAgent also analysed the cities around the world where people are looking for second homes. Australia’s Gold Coast ranks in the top spot, with more searches for second properties in the city than anywhere else in the world. Average house prices hit a record $1.03 million in December 2023, but with the area being famed for its surfing spots, theme parks such as Dreamworld and SeaWorld, and long sandy beaches, the area is a great spot to buy a holiday home in.  

Australian cities dominate much of the top ten with Melbourne, the coastal hotspot which is often hailed as one of the world’s most liveable cities, ranking in second spot with almost 45,000 searches over the past year for second homes in the city. Adelaide (24,800 searches) and Perth (22,800 searches) also feature in the top ten, placing in 6th and 7th spots, respectively. 

Home to slightly cooler climates, and ranking in third spot, is the UK city of York. According to data from GetAgent, the average asking price for properties in the walled city is around £408,570. However, with the average rental price in the city exceeding £1,000 a month (placing it in the top 20 most expensive cities in the UK) – buying a property in the area could be a savvy investment. Known for its breathtaking Gothic cathedral and the famous shopping street known as The Shambles, the city also offers a quaint escape for those using properties in the city as a holiday home. 

Scottish cities Edinburgh (19,800 searches) and Inverness (19,200 searches) round off the top ten second home hotspots, with homeowners regularly searching for holiday homes in both areas. 

Measures were taken recently in Edinburgh to curb short-term holiday letting in the city, when Edinburgh faced a housing crisis in the latter half of 2023. Though property prices remain expensive by Scottish standards, the city attracts many renters from more expensive locations in the UK who are able to pay higher property prices than locals can afford. In addition, the city’s global reputation as a tourist must-visit destination encouraged many to invest in holiday letting properties, and so in order to protect those seeking residential properties in the city, the Scottish government implemented a countrywide policy, requiring all operators of self-catering residences to apply for planning permission before hosting short-term guests. Even with these measures in place though, it seems that people are still keen to invest in second properties in Edinburgh – whether as a holiday home or rental property.

Rank City Country Annual global searches for second homes
1 Gold Coast Australia 49,200
2 Melbourne Australia 44,900
3 York United Kingdom 33,800
4 Cape Town South Africa 32,900
5 Malaga Spain 26,200
6 Adelaide Australia 24,800
7 Perth Australia 22,800
8 Auckland New Zealand 21,500
9 Edinburgh United Kingdom 19,800
10 Inverness United Kingdom 19,200

Top 10 Global Second Home Hotspots (Countries)

When looking at the countries people want a second home in most, it is the rural country of Ireland which tops the list, with almost 100,000 searches for second homes in the country over the past year. Nestled amongst beautiful, peaceful countryside and warm hospitality, it’s not a surprise that Ireland ranks as one of the most popular destinations to buy a second property in, with many people living in England regularly retreating to the country for a holiday close to home.

With easy access to the UK and rest of Europe, many people around the world view Ireland as a desirable location to buy a property in and use as a base to travel back and forth. Average property prices in the country also sit at around €365,000, meaning many homeowners may find their property budgets stretching further in this charming country, when compared to prices in their home nation.

Following Ireland as the world’s second home hotspot is New Zealand with over 92,500 searches in the past year for second homes in the nation. With its breathtaking natural landscapes, high quality of life and outdoors lifestyle, the country has a lot to offer for those looking to buy a second home – whether local New Zealanders using a second property as a base to meet up with friends and family, or non-natives purchasing a holiday home.

Rounding off the top three most in-demand locations is the United Kingdom, where over 55,000 people around the world were found to be searching for second homes in the country over the past year. According to government data, 2.1 million households in the country reported having at least one second property in 2021-2022, with just over a third using the property as a second home, but the majority letting their second property out in the private rented sector.

European countries dominate the remaining top ten destinations with countries including Italy, Spain and Greece featuring as some of the most in-demand locations to buy a second home in.

Rank Country Annual global searches for second homes
1 Ireland 98,600
2 New Zealand 92,800
3 United Kingdom 55,900
4 Equatorial Guinea 52,800
5 Italy 30,000
6 Portugal 29,200
7 Spain 29,200
8 Malta 26,300
9 Lithuania 19,200
10 Greece 17,100

Colby Short, CEO and cofounder of GetAgent added: “Our study has revealed some of the most desirable locations for a second home, with lots of them not only being great investments as part of a portfolio, but also making great holiday homes for homeowners themselves. Many of the in-demand destinations revealed in our research are located in areas of natural beauty, and provide easy access to other desirable travel locations.

“However, whether you’re making your first foray into rentals, or eying up a holiday home on the coast, second house purchases aren’t known for being cheap. The additional three per cent Stamp Duty fee (on top of the Stamp Duty Land Tax you already pay) can make the punch to your purse all the more noticeable.

“For this reason, many people will need to take out a new mortgage package to finance the second property. If you’re planning to live in both your residences (either as a summer home, or splitting time between the two properties), you’ll need a residential home mortgage; but if you want to boost your income by renting your new house to someone else, you’ll need a buy to let mortgage. And if you’re specifically purchasing a property with the intention of renting it out as a holiday home – and intend on renting out your let for more than 210 days a year – you’ll need a holiday let mortgage.

“The deposits required to successfully obtain these mortgages can range from 15% up to a whopping 40% – meaning you should definitely carefully consider your financial status before investing in a second home.

“While the process of purchasing a second property often presents more hoops to jump through (and quite often significantly higher costs too) it’s clear that in desirable locations there is also money to be made – either by putting the house onto the rental market, or by transforming the property into a holiday home that can be rented out.

“However, it’s completely understandable that second homeownership is a contentious subject in areas such as Edinburgh or Cornwall, where local residents are getting priced out of the market by holiday homes which are rarely inhabited. Measures will likely need to be taken in the future if the second property market continues to grow, in order to keep house prices as affordable as possible.”

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