The best European cities to invest in: a Portuguese city makes the 2020 list

Porto is leaps ahead of Lisbon in Forbes magazine's recent ranking of areas with growth potential and gains in real estate.

Porto is one of the best European cities to invest in / Aperture Vintage on Unsplash
Porto is one of the best European cities to invest in / Aperture Vintage on Unsplash
16 January 2020, Redaction

With Brexit just around the corner at the end of this month, and a deal that looks to be increasingly less favourable towards Britain than initially announced, there will of course be implications for the European economy; the pressure to buy houses is increasing, generating business opportunities in the property market in various parts of the continent. Something similar happened in 2019 and history tends to repeat itself. These markets are becoming stronger in 2020 and the radar of international investors returns to Portugal this year.

Forbes sets the scene in a recent article on "The best European cities to invest in 2020". To rank Porto (Lisbon was on the 2019 list), LeadingRE, a global consortium of 565 real estate brokers in 70 countries, helped the American economic and financial magazine find out which cities are showing signs of real estate growth but haven't yet exceeded the profit threshold.

Naples, Italy

Always a popular destination for tourists, the Italian city experienced a 15% increase in property sales last year. One hour from Rome by train, located on the Mediterranean coast with a warm climate, and with the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia, it has become a popular place to live.

The increased demand represents a fortunate kind of investment for the historic city of Naples, which is often ignored by its northern counterparts," Chris Dietz, executive vice president of global operations for LeadingRE, told Forbes. "The relatively low prices reflect historically moderate demand here.”

Megève, France

Besides hosting a stage of the Tour de France a few years ago, Megève saw an influx of interest from several European countries attracted largely by its ski resort which is part of the Mont Blanc mountain range. For example, according to local agent Antonin Allard, quoted by the American magazine, buyers from Britain have increased from 5% to 15% in the last twelve months and those from Switzerland account for 25% of sales, compared to 20% in 2018.

Székesfehérvár, Hungary

Don’t be fooled by its unpronounceable name. This somewhat secondary market recorded a 17% increase in home sales compared to 2018, largely due to a major upgrade of the Budapest-Székesfehérvár rail link. It is conveniently positioned on the route between two popular leisure spots: Lake Balaton and Lake Velence, the latter of which is known for its beaches.

"The country's economic prosperity and strong real estate growth make it an attractive option for investors, and we are seeing growing interest from across Europe in Székesfehérvár's attractive shares," Dietz said. "Investors from neighbouring Turkey are also attracted by 2,000 years of history and culture, as well as favourable prices compared to other well-known European coastal centres.

Batumi, Georgia

The port city is Georgia's third largest city and home to the popular Black Sea Resort. There are currently no height restrictions on new buildings, so developers and buyers are taking full advantage of the opportunity.

An estimated 22,752 homes (including single-family homes and apartment blocks) were built between 2018 and 2019 in response to growing demand. "With plenty of land available in Batumi and few development restrictions, new projects are emerging in the city to meet the growing demand," Dietz said.

Porto, Portugal

Last year's list featured Lisbon as a good place to invest in a second home, but growth was so significant in 2019 that it's hard to find a good home business, according to Forbes.

The next best place to look in Portugal is Porto, where home prices are still 30% lower than in Lisbon, despite a 15% increase in closed sales, according to Rita Ribeiro of the real estate agent, INS Portugal. Demand has increased both because of the more expensive housing in Lisbon and because of changes in ownership. Portugal is also one of the places with the lowest prices to obtain a Gold Visa for EU citizenship. Ribeiro estimates that property sales to foreigners have increased over the last three years, from one in ten buyers to one in three.

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

After Amsterdam, this is the largest city in the Netherlands. Located on the Maas River, which crosses many European countries, Rotterdam is home to the largest port in Europe and sometimes called "Manhattan on the Maas". For those looking for a more urban place to invest, Rotterdam is still a good place to look (also listed last year). As Erik Noordam of the leading real estate agent VOC International says, "it is fast becoming a paradise for buyers who feel that Amsterdam has become too expensive.”

Find out more: The Best European Cities To Invest In For 2020 (Forbes)

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