Unique Living
December 15th, 2014 | by Serge Cowan

Luxury Property: A Home Away from Home

Having sold luxury property overseas for over 12 years now, I like to think that I know the reasons that motivate people to buy a second residence or holiday home overseas.

Growing up, I was privileged enough to spend much of my teenage years between the hustle and bustle that is London and Cannes on the French Riviera – my second home. In-fact that was my original strap line when we launched Unique Living – “A Home Away from Home”.

I remember fondly travelling to the south of France with my mother, father, elder brother and younger sister. Our property was in Parc St Paul, La Californie, in the hills above Cannes. It was small, but cozy – us Estate Agents would describe it as ‘quaint’ to a perspective client – but we made the most of the space, somewhere to rest our weary heads after a long day on the beach in Juan Les Pins followed by a Michelin star level meal in Mougins.

luxury villa mougin

Mougin Luxury Villa

The epitome of luxury on the French Riviera and the varying style of properties. Two examples of traditional and ultra modern villas for sale in Mougins on the French Riviera

When we would arrive home late at night we would go into bedtime mode. The three sofas became beds for my brother, my sister and I and then we would pull a large partition across the centre of the apartment and my mother and fathers bedroom was created.

It is these memories that gave me the overseas property ‘bug’, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time as I was too young. From the French Riviera aroma un-paralleled with anywhere else in the world and the beautiful poolside views, to being able to ski in the Alps in the morning and be on the beach in Cannes sipping from a bottle of Coca Cola by mid afternoon, these snapshots of my second home helped me fall in love with the overseas property market.

I also recall many slow drives down the most extravagant roads on the Cote d’Azur looking at houses with green eyed envy, whether it was around St Paul de Vence, or during the long weekend stays in St Tropez, we did our fair share of nosing at other peoples fortunes. We would also ‘window shop’ for properties and my first taste of the most prestigious Estate Agencies on the French Riviera, were those located on the Croisette and the Route d’Antibes.

When my parents acquired the apartment in 1989 it cost them a mere €50,000 or 328,000 French Francs; the equivalent in today’s market will be approximately 400,000 € for a studio apartment, but that demonstrates how much the market has developed over the years. The landscape is very different now too. While back then the majority of properties were owned by French locals, nowadays the Cote D’Azur is very much the second home to many of the world’s wealthiest, from the rich and famous to the self made millionaires. The French Riviera offers everything that makes it the idealistic place to spend long portions of the Easter and Summer months bathed in sunshine and enjoying good food.

Apartments for sale in La Californie, Cannes,

Apartments for sale in La Californie, Cannes

Two typical example of a Apartments for sale in La Californie, Cannes, comparatively speaking these villas in 1998 would be for sale in the region of €500,000 – €800,000

The aim of my blogs is to paint a picture of the luxury overseas property market demonstrate how my passion for this sector has grown and matured over the years, to show you that the word ‘Luxury’ does not always apply to the uber rich, talk about my experiences and provide an insight into my clients, my team across Europe, the pitfalls, the struggles and of course the joys.

Investing in luxury overseas property whether in Cannes, Marbella, Vale do Lobo, Tuscany, Mallorca or Ibiza for the majority of my clients, is not always about the short term return – there is a bigger picture. In 12-15 years when their children are grown up, their property will ultimately be worth more – it’s the general rule of inflation. The properties can also become a family legacy, a home to children and grand children, one place where an extended family can congregate for yearly celebrations.

Buying a luxury property, be it a villa, penthouse, apartment or chalet is not a hasty decision to make and our clients on average take 3-4 years to find their ideal residence. For them it is about finding the right property with the right feel and not a compromise. This is the luxury market after all and a change in lifestyle for them and their family, a break from the norm, somewhere they can go for the odd weekend or month or two and ultimately a change of scene, environment and of course culture.

luxury villa for sale in Marbella

Penthouse for sale in Mallorca

Examples of a luxury villa for sale in Marbella, Penthouse for sale in Mallorca and traditional Villa for sale in Ibiza, all are currently being used as second residences and holiday homes.

This, for most of my clients, is a lifestyle choice and those who buy by utilising our services have visited these prestige locations year on year. They have become ‘au fait’ with the lifestyle and consider these destinations their second home away from home.

Serge Cowan, Founder and Managing Director
Unique Living

Serge Cowan

Serge Cowan

Managing Director and Founder

Serge has an extensive marketing background, after a broadcasting career, Serge moved into marketing where he worked for BSkyB & a number of leading Public Relations agencies.
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