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Unlikely though it may seem, a chain of islands lying 650km off the coast of Senegal, West Africa, is rapidly became the latest international property hotspot when prices there soared by nearly 20 per cent during 2006. Since then, the introduction of direct flights from the UK, along with more development have seen the Cape Verde islands become established on the international property scene.
The former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde, independent since 1975, consists of 10 main islands and five islets. The climate is hot and dry, with periodic droughts. All the islands are volcanic, but the only active volcano is Mount Fogo, on the island of Fogo, which last erupted in 1995.
The pace of expansion has slowed significantly as the expected floods of tourists have yet to materialise, though this has also had the effect of preventing the property market from becoming overheated and fizzling out.
Cape Verde is socially and politically stable, with friendly people; year-round sunshine; white sand beaches; pristine seas; stunning scenery and an exotic mix of Portuguese and West African culture. Health services are good, and crime levels generally low.
Though Cape Verde is still not an established holiday destination, its government’s recent aggressive growth strategy for tourism, which includes tax breaks for foreign corporate investors and developers, is resulting in a plethora of new upmarket hotels, casinos and golf resorts. In turn, the consequent increase in visitor numbers is fuelling an emerging international property market. Water sports fans are the first attracted to these Atlantic islands, but there is a market developing for couples, families and even eco-tourism.
The recent introduction of direct flights from the UK to Cape Verde’s international airports has boosted British interest in the country.
Because so much new development is taking place, most of the market is off plan. Whilst buy-to-lets are popular, many foreign purchasers are acquiring property primarily for their own use.
Prices vary according to area and development, as each island has its own distinct character and will appeal to different groups of people; there is no way to give blanket prices. However, the fact that infrastructure is still catching up with the pace of building, prices are less than you might expect for island living, making Cape Verde excellent value in comparison to the Canary Islands, 240km to the north.
As the rental market is in its infancy, it is difficult to predict yields, but local agents say a well-positioned studio in Santa Maria, Sal should give anything up to nine per cent returns. And it is worth bearing in mind that, unlike many locations, Cape Verde has the potential for year-round letting, thanks to its climate.
The islands currently experiencing most interest from holidaymakers are Sal, Boa Vista and Santiago, so it is there that most new development is taking place and the international property market is flourishing.
Some fear the over-development of certain areas if the construction boom continues, though there are measures in place to promote low-density, environmentally friendly building, as well as restrictions on building too close to the beaches and coastline.
A typical new development has, as a minimum, a communal swimming pool; some have private pools. The more upmarket offer gyms, spa facilities, tennis courts, water sports and will have easy access to golf courses.
Since almost all furniture has to be imported, most developers offer furnishing packages. Allow 10 per cent of the purchase price to equip your property to a high standard.
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