Around The World In £80k - Egypt
By Laura Latham
When it comes to sunshine, history and value for money Egypt is hard to beat. For the past five years the country has not only become a top destination for tourists but also for buyers wanting to own in an exotic location not too far from the UK. With flight times of around five hours and stacks of property in Egypt for less than £100,000, Egypt is proving one of the most popular second-home hotspots.
The most sought-after destinations for buying property in Egypt are the resorts of the Red Sea, or what is now called the Red Sea Riviera. The largest town, Sharm el Sheikh, has seen rising numbers of expat investors in property in Egypt over the past few years, which in turn has driven up prices. It's still possible to buy cheap apartments around the resort but getting a beachfront location is unlikely unless you're prepared to spend at least £60,000. As a result, developers have moved to other locations, such as Hurghada, Marsa Alam and further afield.
These less-developed resorts once presented problems for buyers, due to their distance from Sharm's airport and lack of amenities; however, there's a new airport at Marsa Alam and another is planned for the resort of Zafarana for 2010. New development is also bringing improving infrastructure and more facilities.
"Sharm and Hurghada no longer offer such good property prices as elsewhere on the Red Sea," says Ian Cunningham of Escapes2, which sells a variety of properties in the region. "Costs have gone up and though you can still get cheap deals they won't be premium properties or front-line beach."
It's true that, if you have less to spend you'll have to move further inland but for many people this is more than made up for by the ability to pick up studios from as little as £16,000 and two-bedroom apartments from around £30,000. City & Urban, which specialises in the region, is even selling property in Egypt starting at just £14,000 for those prepared to head 80 kilometres further north to the small resort of Dahab.
Most of the property in Egypt is in new-build complexes with a range of facilities that will usually include pools, bars and shops or maybe a spa. Many of the best bargains are to be found in areas such as Na'ama Bay and Nabq Bay, just outside Sharm's centre. However, City & Urban has good-size, two-bedroom apartments starting at £36,000 in the El Mar resort, situated in Montazah, which it refers to as "the Mayfair" of Sharm el Sheikh and resale property in Egypt in the pretty Delta Sharm complex near Na'ama Bay for £40,000.
Individual resale and new apartments in central locations can still be found from around £50,000. However, you may need to be prepared to sacrifice the facilities and property rental opportunities provided by a big resort. If you can stretch to £80,000 you'll find beachfront property in Egypt in areas such as Sharks Bay, though these will probably be small studios or one-bedroom units.
Ian Cunningham is very keen on the Zafarana area, not just because Escapes2 has property to sell there but because of the planned airport and its proximity to
Cairo, which is under two hours away. The company is offering one-bedroom apartments from as little as £20,000 and two bedrooms from £40,000 in the Zafarana Beach Resort, with a private beach, pools and scuba club. There's also a guaranteed rental scheme, which includes six weeks' use and ten per cent returns per year for the first five years.
Closer to the popular town of Hurghada is the large-scale resort of Sahl Hasheesh, which is almost a country in itself with several luxury hotels, over 300 retail property outlets designed, a number of bars and restaurants plus a golf course and academy, diving club, spa and fitness facilities, a cinema and marina.
Several large developments within the purpose-built resort offer a range of properties; at the El Andalous complex, for example, properties can be yours from £66,876, which includes sea views for most owners. Nearby is the Ocean Breeze resort, also with a private beach, which has apartments starting at £56,400, and a third development called Palm Beach Piazza, designed along similarly inclusive lines with property starting at just £43,800. All are being marketed by Experience International.
Also at Sahl Hasheesh is The Pearl, selling through Gem Estates and offering apartments and villas arranged around six swimming pools and built across four islets. On site there is a health club with spa and a football academy, plus direct beach access, with properties starting at £49,800.
For those wanting a buy-to-let property in Egypt, the five-star Pyramisa Hotel, also through Gem Estates, is selling from £39,950. There's a property rental guarantee of seven per cent gross per annum with up to eight weeks' use per year. The benefit of owning with a company such as this is that you'll be able to swap your weeks with other Pyramisa hotels in Cairo, Luxor and Sharm if you fancy a change of scene.
Within central Hurghada and just 230 metres from the waterfront, is the planned luxury gated community of West Side Village. Gem Estates is marketing studios priced from £19,964, to £60,000 for something larger with three bedrooms and a roof terrace. In addition to the 600-plus properties, the complex offers extensive tropical gardens, restaurants, cafes, bars, a health spa, three swimming pools and private beach access.
"Interest in property in Egypt is beginning to awaken as the world becomes aware of the investment opportunities available there," says Steve Worboys of Experience International. "The key factors attracting overseas investors include Egypt's fast-growing tourism sector; the fact that the government is continuing to commit to initiatives designed to enhance the investment climate; and that prices of property in Egypt remain low, while demand for quality property is increasing."
Worboys believes resorts that have sprung up along the Red Sea, with very individual atmospheres and amenities, appeal to a variety of buyers of property in Egypt and, of course, budgets. He thinks demand for property in Egypt will continue to accelerate across the board, in line with a growth in tourist numbers.
The agent also points out that investors are taking advantage of tax incentives offered by the Egyptian government on property purchases: currently there is no stamp duty or capital gains tax and British residents can also avoid inheritance tax on any property in Egypt gifted in wills. "Egypt, and particularly the Red Sea, is where the smart money in being invested in 2008," he says.
If pure investment, rather than a traditional holiday home is what you're after then property in Egypt may be able to serve you well there too. Cairo and its suburbs are seeing increasing numbers of residents, as local and foreign workers move to the city, in addition to increasing numbers of city-break tourists and expat Egyptians who want to buy a base in their home country.
Escapes2's Ian Cunningham says that it's possible to buy apartments costing under £80,000 in central Cairo but these probably won't be attractive to anyone who tends to prefer the Red Sea. "The Cairo buyer is someone who is maybe more middle-aged; probably professional couples rather than families and usually empty nesters who want to invest in a city-centre buy-to-let property in Egypt," he says.
Prices for one-bedroom properties in Escapes2's centrally located Rivoli development start at around £50,000 and Cunningham says that Cairo is shaping up for an exciting future with developers and the government pouring millions into retail, leisure and residential facilities.
For those who want a more relaxing hang out within easy reach of the city excitements and heritage sites, the company is also selling property in Egypt in the suburban community of Bitter Lakes. Their gated Six Corners development was a former hotel situated around an hour from the city and the tourist draw of the Pyramids. The refurbishment is converting the building into a range of accommodation starting at studios costing £13,000.
Property here will come with a guaranteed rental package offering around four per cent yields per annum and two months' use each year. In the meantime, Cunningham expects tenants will be short-break tourists who like to have everything within easy reach but don't necessarily want to be in the centre of the hectic city.
Whether you go for beachside bliss or city chaos, one thing is certain. Egypt may be rich in many things but you don't need to be wealthy to buy property in Egypt or live here.
Laura Latham for Homes Overseas - Property for sale in Egypt property investment advice and international property news.