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Monarch Airlines has announced the launch of a new route from its summer 2015 schedule direct to Alicante from Leeds Bradford Airport. The schedule for summer 2015 from Leeds Bradford Airport includes flights to 10 sun and city destinations across Europe, with the introduction of new routes to Alicante and Naples. This is in addition to eight existing routes which will be continued; making a total of 28 flights a week.

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Once known as a typical port town, Alicante has since been transformed into a stylish city offering wide palm tree-lined boulevards, spacious plazas, excellent cuisine and a distinct Mediterranean culture. As well as long white sandy beaches, a mild climate and more than 300 days of sunshine a year, this charming city is also referred to as the cultural capital of the Costa Blanca offering historical monuments, museums (such as the fantastic Museo de Bellas Artes Gravina) and lively local festivities.

The new service is available to book now with prices currently from £56.99 each way. Prices are inclusive of all taxes and charges and include hand baggage only.

A popular winter sun destination, Spain is packed with delights to engage and entertain those looking to while away the days in a warmer clime than the UK affords. The temperate weather has appealed to holidaymakers for decades, with average temperatures remaining firmly above 10C/50F, even in the depths of winter. Even the sea remains a respectable average of 15C/59F at the coldest point in its annual temperature cycle, according to holiday-weather.com.

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With property prices that have fallen significantly since the global financial crisis, many investors are seeing now as the perfect time to put their funds into Spain’s housing market. Spanish real estate and construction accounted for around 18% of Spain’s GDP back in 2007, with a market capitalisation of more than €30 billion. It is now about a tenth of that, with the result that economists and investors alike are looking at Spain as being one of the last bastions of good value property in Europe. European Portfolio Manager Dean Tenerelli of T Rowe Price summarises the situation succinctly,

“We are at an interesting juncture as real estate in Spain has reached a trough since the crisis; rent prices are historically low and there is an abundance of low-cost property on sale.”

Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of leading Spanish homebuilder Taylor Wimpey España, at the heart of the Iberian country’s residential property market, comments,

“Spanish property is some of the best value in Europe. Buyers from across the globe are taking an interest in what Spain can offer, both as an investment choice and for the lifestyle benefits. We’ve found that our buyers include a mixture of those looking for an escape pad for long weekends, those chasing the winter sun and then summering in their country of origin and those looking to move fulltime to Spain and settle here for the long term.

“The Balearics are proving particularly popular right now. They provide fantastic value and developments such as our Cala Magrana III resort, which offers easy access to both golfing and beaches, are being snapped up at an impressive pace. So much so that we only have a few apartments left there.”

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Two bedroom apartments at Cala Magrana III currently cost from €230,000 thanks to an end of season offer from Taylor Wimpey España. Foreign buyers are enjoying the high end apartments, with their designer fixtures and fittings, large swimming pool and communal gardens, as well as the sandy beaches, coves, water sports and crystal waters of the surrounding area.

Figures from the recent HiFX Property Hotspots Report confirm the interest that foreign buyers are currently taking in Spain. The latest report saw Spain tie in first place with France as the destination of choice for buyers, garnering some 35% of the vote. Additionally, the National Statistics Institute has confirmed that home sales are rising, up 8.8% in June 2014 compared with a year earlier, while Spain´s society of notaries has reported that foreign buyers favour coastal areas. The breakdown of foreign buyers included 15% Brits, 10% French, 9% Russians and 7% Belgians, according to the data.

While the influx of foreign property investors is good news for Spain’s economy, the situation for domestic buyers is also looking up. Deloitte’s fourth annual analysis of the Spanish housing market has shown that the average price of housing is now 4.4 times the individual gross salary. This compares with an EU average ratio of 6.1%, rising to 7.9% in France and 8.5% in Britain.

Interestingly, many of the ‘domestic’ buyers benefitting from this situation are foreigners already living in Spain. According to data from the Ministry of Development, 89% of foreign buyers in the second quarter of 2014 were already living in Spain. The figures reveal that Malaga is one of the most popular parts of Spain when it comes to home sales to foreigners, which reached a total of 2,499 transactions during Q2 2014 – a level not seen since 2007 and an increase of 30% over Q2 2013.

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Taylor Wimpey España’s experience certainly supports the finding. Their Horizon Beach development in the Estepona area of Malaga has only a few apartments left for sale. One of the last beachfront plots in the Costa del Sol, Horizon Beach’s 36 two and three bedroom apartments and penthouses offer a level of exclusivity that sets them apart, having been designed to impress even the most demanding of buyers. Prices start at €370,000. Taylor Wimpey España’s Marc Pritchard concludes,

“It is the perfect time to buy in Spain right now, whether for foreign property investors or domestic buyers. Property here offers some incredible bargains and it’s great to see the market beginning to pick up pace as the world wakes up to the excellent value for money that the Spanish residential property market currently affords.”

For more information please contact Taylor Wimpey España today on 08000 121 020 or visit www.taylorwimpeyspain.com. Those residing outside of the UK should call 0034 971 70 69 72.

With the half-term break just around the corner, a soaring pound could save holidaymakers hundreds.

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Prices have plunged at popular European resorts and travellers are seeing their money go further in other exotic destinations around the world. And sterling has surged to six-year high against the euro with many resorts also slashing prices as they vie for custom.

Costs have plummeted by up to 20 per cent over the past year in 10 out of 12 worldwide destinations, according to the Post Office Winter Sunshine Report. The report, which compared the total cost of eight travel ‘basket’ items, priced all at just £44.03 in Costa del Sol

Post Office Travel Money researchers have compared prices for a basket of eight items to compile a barometer of prices in popular holiday locations.

Top of the list for value for money was the Costa del Sol, in Spain, where holidaymakers can enjoy a three-course family meal for £32.49, a cup of coffee for just under £1 and a glass of wine for around £1.40.

It was followed by Bali, Indonesia, where a meal for two comes in at just £37.60 and a bottle or can of Coca Cola costs just 50p.

Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket, said: ‘It’s fantastic news that the cost of holidaying to many popular destinations is going down just as we head into winter and the colder months of the year.

‘It’s a combination of the strength of the pound against many currencies we like to take our winter breaks in, coupled with local hoteliers and tourist businesses fighting for our holiday spending money by slashing prices in resort for everything from eating out to entrances to popular attractions.

‘Ensuring you get your slice of winter sun need not cost you the earth.

‘In fact it’s the earth you may well be exploring knowing your money will go a long way in the likes of Sri Lanka and other destinations near and far this winter.’

Currently £1 (based on an exchange of £500) will buy 1.232 euros compared to 1.14 euros last October, an increase of around eight per cent in the past 12 months.

Andrew Brown of Post Office Travel Money said: ‘Families can look forward to seeing their holiday money stretch further in winter sun Eurozone resorts as well as in many of the popular long haul destinations we surveyed for autumn half term holidays.

‘The trick is do some advance holiday homework and pick a destination where resort prices are low and where the pound still packs a powerful punch.

‘That’s certainly true of resorts in Spain, Portugal and Cyprus, thanks to the strength of sterling, and people planning trips further afield can benefit from low resort charges in Sri Lankan resorts and the perennial favourite Phuket.’

Sean Tipton, spokesman for travel association Abta, said: ‘With half term rapidly approaching the strength of the pound makes a foreign break really good value for money.

‘Not many people travel overseas in the autumn so hotels will lower their prices and you won’t have to put up with the crowds you see in the summer.

‘Plus if you’re looking for good weather temperatures in Southern Europe and Turkey are still in the mid-twenties with good sunshine, so the beach is still an option.’

 

Expats wanting to take on new mortgages against their British homes will face a new set of tough lending rules under proposals from financial regulators.

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One of the side effects of the UK adopting the European Mortgage Directive is the impact this will have on expat borrowers.

The directive is a template for mortgage lending across the European Union and includes many new rules aimed at giving borrowers more rights and clearer explanations of lending terms.

One of the fundamental aspects of the directive is making sure borrowers pass strict affordability tests.

Expats are likely to face an even tougher affordability test than other borrowers if they have a foreign currency mortgage.

Foreign currency mortgage safeguards

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) defines a foreign currency mortgage as a loan taken out in a currency other the one in the country where they live.

For example, an expat living in Spain taking out a UK mortgage in Sterling would have a foreign currency loan.

Proposals in the directive say mortgage lenders must make sure the borrower passes the affordability test while putting in place safeguards protecting borrowers against exchange rate risks.

Lenders will have to give expat borrowers clear explanations of how their mortgages will work under the directive.

“These options could be rights to convert mortgages into another currency or a cap on the borrower’s liability if exchange rate fluctuations reach certain limits,” said an FCA spokesman.

“As part of our consultation on the mortgage directive, we are asking borrowers, lenders and financial intermediaries what their views are on these safeguards.”

EASYJET is the first airline in Europe to allow passenger check in by use of a new passport photo app.

Travellers using the airline, can now book, check-in and go through the boarding gates using a special app on their smartphones, therefore avoiding the lengthy manual process of data filling and tiresome booking procedures.

The new facility, operated by validation specialist Jumio, allows users to automate the process up to two hours before taking off from one of easyJet’s 110 airports. The process simply takes a picture of the passenger’s passport and the app completes the check-in.

The new service works with Jumio to ensure customer passports will be recorded ‘easily, safely and securely’.

James Millett, easyJet’s Head of Digital, said: “Our new mobile passport scanning function will save time for the millions of customers who use the app to input their travel documentation details.”

As customers approach bag drop, they are advised to open their boarding pass at the right time so it is ready to be scanned and further beacons will send messages to travellers when it is time to present their passport.

The instructions are sent to registered passengers’ mobile phones as they pass each strategic ‘beacon’ placed in the airports.

Any passenger who has downloaded the easyJet app can expect ‘helpful’ notifications each time they pass the Bluetooth transmitters dotted around the airport.

And the airline deems the trial successful, customers can expect to receive messages at more European airports telling them when to open their passports and show their boarding pass.

easyJet already uses Flight Tracker technology in its app to keep customers up to date with the latest information on their flights.

The upgrade to their award-winning mobile app service, is available on both iOS and Android smartphones.