However, although the interest is there, potential buyers remain conservative in terms of which countries they are prepared to consider. The traditional favourites that make up the top five places in the Index – France, Spain, USA, Italy and Portugal – significantly outperformed the sixth to tenth placed countries, suggesting that consumers are currently unwilling to risk an investment outside the more established foreign home markets.
Ann Wright, International Development Manager of Primelocation International, said: "The significant annual increase in international searches is a very positive sign for the foreign homes market, indicating a renewed confidence on the part of consumers. However, as it to be expected given the recent turbulence we have experienced, a certain amount of caution remains and interest is currently concentrated in the traditionally strong and established markets of France, Spain and the USA.
"We may have to wait a little longer before the intention to buy translates fully into sales. Although property prices in the top three countries are attractive, having fallen substantially in the downturn, the pound is not particularly strong against the euro or the US dollar at the moment and buyers may hold off, watching the market for the most lucrative time to make the purchase."
A significant anomaly to this overall trend, however, is Australia. The country registered an 18% fall in searches compared with last month, and has slipped three places from seventh to tenth since September 2008.
Wright said: "The case of Australia is not especially surprising given the current economic climate. The distance from the UK is a stumbling block for many consumers, being so much further away even than other supposedly long-haul destinations such as the USA. Furthermore, Australia may be suffering given the potential for growth within the EU as newer member states become fully integrated. This is supported by the fact that ninth-placed Bulgaria, with 22%, recorded the highest monthly increase of any member of the top ten."
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