» A wealth of single minded spenders

A wealth of single minded spenders

They have the cash, the independence and are rich pickings for firms who provide for their needs. Lynne Greenwood reports

A wealth of single minded spenders

They have the cash, the independence and are rich pickings for firms who provide for their needs. Lynne Greenwood reports

They are single, experienced solo travellers, with a lifestyle focus on career and socialising, inclined to spend their disposable income on treating themselves.

So says the latest World Travel Market's Global Trends report.

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Not so the developers, agents and home search companies who impose no such premium when it comes to actually selling overseas properties, which may be one reason for the growing number of singletons buying abroad.

Jan Pratt, of Shortcuts Property Search based in Majorca but with operations on mainland Spain, Ibiza and the Algarve, says the percentage of her company's enquiries from single people rose from 15 per cent in 2005 to 35 per cent in 2006.

With an equal split of the sexes, including a recently-divorced woman with a settlement to spend and a City trader with his handsome annual bonus, their budgets ranged from £200,000 to £2 million.

"They are divided almost equally between those buying for their own use and those looking for an investment," says Jan, who established the home finder service with her husband, Andy, in 1999 when they moved to Majorca from the UK.

"Most want a place with a sea view, which always commands a premium, but while some people have a very specific brief, others who are less familiar with the locations are happy to take our advice."

Here, The Daily Telegraph speaks to three single buyers of overseas property and listens to their own experiences.

Contact

# Brace Oakley, 0870 850 1656, braceoakley.co.uk

# Polaris Golf Resorts, 07970 667204, polarisgolfresorts-chappell.com

# Universal Tower-Dubai Sport City, 020 7095 8701, hotpropertiesworldwide.com

Lorraine O'Brien, chief executive of the Charities Trust and founder of the charity Time4Women, knew exactly what she wanted when she prepared a brief for Shortcuts to find a "special place" near Deia, a village on the west coast of Majorca.

"I have a hectic life, dividing my time between my own consultancy on the King's Road and the Trust in Liverpool," she says. "I had holidayed in Deia for many years and fell in love with both the place and the area's magnificent countryside and unspoilt beaches."

Lorraine knew she wanted a house outside the village, with great views overlooking the sea and, if possible, a pool. Shortcuts found six properties within her budget, (which she prefers not to reveal) and she chose the first one she viewed. Her one-bed house - a traditional stone farm - sits on the clifftop with a terrace and garden with pomegranate, lemon, orange and fig trees, a plunge pool, and a separate studio. In the spring and summer Lorraine spends every other weekend there, leaving Chelsea for Heathrow at 3pm to arrive in Deia around 11pm,.

"At first I just wanted the place for me but now it's also turned into an investment," she says. "I can let the house for some of the year and still stay in the studio. And it's risen in value by about 20 per cent in just a year."

Sabia Afzar, 39, PA to a hotel manager, was determined to make it on to the property ladder before her 30th birthday - but has now revised it to 40.

Sabia who is based in Leeds where she rents a share in a friend's house, has finally made her first property purchase - in Dubai.

"For along time I've wanted to live abroad," says Sabia who has travelled in the US and Australia.

"I'd read about Dubai, that properties were still affordable, and as a Muslim I felt I could have a link there."

She visited Dubai for the first time last July and within two days "knew this was the right place".

Introduced by a friend to Universal Real Estate developers, Sabia decided to invest in a fourth-storey studio apartment in the 17-storey Universal Tower (centre) in Dubai Sports City, considered to be the world's first which is purpose-designed.

Planned as the centrepiece for Dubai's proposed 2020 Olympic bid, it will include a tennis academy and championship golf course, available to resident owners, and proposed training academies for Manchester United FC and the International Cricket Council.

A graduate in sports science and a fitness trainer for over 10 years, Sabia felt the location was right for her.

"I did my homework," she says. "I looked at the masterplan for the whole Sport City. There is so much potential here, both for me to make a career and live here, or to rent until my future is settled."

Sabia paid £63,000 for her studio, due for completion in 2008.

"I remember when property prices started to rise in the UK, lots of people said I should have bought.

"I feel people will be saying the same about Dubai in a few years time, so I want to do it now."

Darryl Chappell, 32, is a printing equipment company account manager. He turned his sights overseas after taking his first gamble in property investment 18 months ago on a buy-to-let flat near his home in Rochester, Kent, bought at auction. "I looked at property shows, the internet, and took advice from my financial adviser," says Darryl, who he has now bought two apartments in Spain's Murcia region. "I looked around Europe and considered Bulgaria but I felt more comfortable with the market in Spain."

Darryl took a three-day viewing trip organised by Brace Oakley, agents for Polaris World resorts, and agreed to buy a two-bed apartment off-plan at Hacienda Riquelme, due for completion in September.

A few months later, he decided to buy an already completed two-bed penthouse apartment at nearby La Torre. "I have mortgages on both and because I need them to pay for themselves, I preferred golf resorts which I felt gave more chance for year-round rentals than a beach resort." He advertises his property at golf clubs and driving ranges in the UK.

"I actually found the buying process less hassle than in UK and I think there are greater gains to be made, particularly in Murcia where growth is around 15 per cent," says Darryl, whose £121,605 off-plan apartment is already worth £138,511.

His second penthouse has already risen in value by £13,500 to £162,159 since his purchase. No wonder he says: "My goal now is to slowly buy as many as I can possibly afford and draw an income from them."

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