The government aims to make Angola a more attractive country for foreign private investment and has introduced regulations with the aim of creating a real estate sector. Recently, there has been a considerable amount of construction of both housing and commercial buildings in Angola. However, in Angola the radical title of all land is vested in the state which rarely grants full proprietorship of land; rather, it assigns surface rights which grant powers to construct and maintain buildings or establish plantations. The state may only grant surface rights to Angolan citizens or companies constituted in Angola though foreign parties may hold shares in such companies. In practice, contracts relating to surface rights are concession contracts which cannot last for more than 60 years. However, there are no prohibitions on the renewal of such contracts.
These rules are set out in the Land Law. The New Urban Lease Law governs certain leases. Key provisions of this Law are as follows:
- the rent must be set in Angolan currency (Kwanza);
- there is flexibility on execution formalities (but also sanctions for breaches of the relevant provisions;
- payment of rent may not be payable more than three months in advance; and
- rents may be stipulated to be annually reviewed in line with an index published by the government.
The combination of new real estate tax regulations and the New Urban Lease Law now give investors a clear sign that Angola is becoming more transparent and keen to develop a dynamic real estate sector.
Australia offers many benefits as a destination for foreign real estate investors. It has a mature and sophisticated real estate market in which most of the major international advisory groups operate. The economy has proved robust during a period of unprecedented international financial turmoil. The legal and political framework is stable, offering long-term security. The market is transparent and readily accessed by foreign buyers, particularly after the recent relaxation of restrictions.
Australia has had a highly securitized market with up to 70 percent of investment-grade real estate being held by listed and unlisted vehicles. The global financial crisis is resulting in some of that real estate now finding its way back into the market and providing good opportunities for foreign buyers.
The Belgian real estate market has proved to be a solid investment. Because Belgium is a federal country, investors have to keep in mind that some of the legal systems that apply to property transactions in Belgium differ between jurisdictions and regions. Investors seeking to take advantage of this attractive market need to understand the legal implications of their proposed transactions.
Having overcome the tragic events of the early 1990s, Bosnia-Herzegovina is moving steadily towards a market economy and is committed to accelerating the pace of economic reform. Current economic action plans aim to move the reform agenda forward vigorously. Businesses that develop their approach to the market today will be well placed to reap benefits over the long-term development of the region.
Since the Economic Reform in 1978, China has been experiencing an economic boom and has moved forward hugely in its global status. The government over recent decades has worked to stabilize the increasingly complex economic environment, including combatting property speculation and property price inflation. Although various laws and regulations aimed at restricting foreign investment in property in the country, investor enthusiasm has continued to fuel growth in the Chinese real estate market. Only the global financial crisis, combined with other adverse developments, has slowed such foreign investment.
In 2011, China became the world's second largest economy in terms of gross domestic product. Some minor easing measures have been put in place around real estate investment. Despite the array of past restrictions, foreign investment still finds its way into the country, paving the way for further growth in the real estate sector.
Croatia continues to integrate further into European and global markets, restructuring and developing its economy and infrastructure. With over $1 billion of World Bank structural adjustment loans directed at increasing the flexibility and efficiency of the economy and developing the competitive environment, Croatia is a place of opportunity for national and international businesses alike. Law Firm Glinska & Miskovic Ltd is a member of the DLA Piper Group.
The Czech Republic has successfully transformed itself from a centrally planned to a market economy. Over 80 percent of Czech enterprise is already in private hands. Further reforms, involving the legal system and the business environment, are being implemented to complete this transition and to adapt to legal standards prevailing in the EU. Both Czech and international businesses are finding a wealth of opportunity to develop business in the region.
While the Czech Republic has over 10 million potential consumers, Czech businesses are increasingly taking the opportunity to reach the global consumer. A more open market brings new sources of capital investment and more scope for strategic partnerships.
Denmark has seen the arrival of an increasing number of international investors, chiefly involved in the the acquisition of retail assets in the capital, Copenhagen, a commercial and tourist hub for the whole of Scandinavia and Northern Europe. The market for portfolios of residential properties in the larger towns has also been active and has been significantly affected by legal reforms. An increasing population and the country's success in avoiding the worst of the last decade's financial crisis has driven significant demand in this area.
France, with its stable legal and political environment, is an attractive country for real estate investment. Since the mid-1990s, foreign investors have been responsible for the majority of such investment here. In 2007, 65 percent of real estate acquisitions in France were made by non-French investors. Most acquisitions are in the office sector, followed by retail and then warehousing/commercial premises.
The French real estate market is completely open to investors from abroad. In addition, in comparison to other major European cities, rents in France are reasonable, real estate prices are good and good-quality buildings are still being built. The positive resale market is also an important factor.
As the largest economy in the European Union and with a population of 82 million, Germany is an attractive market for real estate investment.
Interest rates are at an all-time low and there is reason to believe that the difficulties of the global financial crisis will be overcome sooner than expected. After struggling for years to overcome economic stagnation and the extraordinary burdens of reunification, the German Wirtschaftswunder has regained strength. For many, Germany’s real estate market is seen as a safe haven for investment, but it is more than that. Germany offers a great opportunity for investors seeking both the security of a European economic powerhouse and the potential of a real estate market which still offers hidden gems for those seeking to invest their money in opportunities with growth potential.
A highly educated workforce, comprehensive infrastructure, low inflation, economic and political stability and the lack of restriction on foreigners buying properties all make Germany an attractive destination for real estate investors from all over the world.
Hong Kong may be the world's costliest place to buy an apartment, but record low mortgage rates and an undersupply of new units have seen residential property prices increase by more than 78 percent since 2009. The government has been imposing market-cooling measures since 2010, including introducing a special stamp duty on residential property, requiring higher minimum mortgage down payments, and requiring full disclosure from developers, but the property bubble continues to inflate this dynamic property market.
Hong Kong's excellent legal and banking systems have drawn many overseas business firms to make it their regional headquarters, which in turn has tremendously increased the demand for Hong Kong's commercial real estate, including office spaces, shopping malls, and retail stores. The slow progress in solving the European sovereign debt crisis creates some uncertainty, but with mainland Chinese and other foreign buyers scooping up luxury space, Hong Kong's property market is likely to remain strong.
After a lengthy period of very poor economic performance Hungary is at last experiencing growth. This improvement has been ongoing since 2013. The country has one of the lowest state fiscal deficits in Europe. Unemployment is reducing and the retail sector has seen an upturn in line with consumer confidence. This is combined with a healthy balance of international trade. All this has led to a revival in investment in Hungarian real estate, with the central area of Budapest and the corridor northwards, in particular, seeing renewed investment and leasing activity.
Beginning in 2012, the Irish real estate market has experienced a significant revival as the banks and the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), which took over responsibility for the country's financial sectors non-performing loan portfolios in 2009, has speeded up the process of resolving the overhang of debt secured on real estate.
Foreign banks formerly active in Ireland have significantly decreased their exposure to Irish assets or have left the market and domestic banks have reduced the volume of real estate related loans on their balance sheets. This process continues and significant portfolios of non-performing loans are still being traded.
Numerous large asset portfolios are being traded, fuelled by the high number of both international and Irish investors that have now entered the market.
As a keystone of the EU, Italy has been at the heart of international political and economic development. While Italy has always been a focus for European trade and investment, the reform of corporate, tax and employment law is set to make it an increasingly attractive environment for both inward investors and national enterprises.
With a highly competitive, efficient and adaptable national industry and a history of forging bilateral relationships to enter other international markets, Italy is a serious player on the international stage. Domestically, pivotal sectors are showing strong growth, and developments in the energy, infrastructure, real estate and telecommunications sectors make Italy a prime market for national and international companies.
The Netherlands increasingly attracts the attention of foreign companies. A low rate of inflation, stable government finances, a good infrastructure and highly educated employees contribute to making the Netherlands interesting for investors and a good choice for companies as their place of business. The tax climate for foreign entrepreneurs is positive, and intermediate holdings in the Netherlands are often used in international corporate structures for tax planning reasons.
Norway is a diverse industrial society with a free market economy and generally low trade barriers. It has little bureaucracy, clear laws and the red tape is not as significant as in other countries. Extensive use of computer technology in the public sector and simple, streamlined business rules are key reasons why it is easy to conduct business in Norway. In addition, Norway is generally included in the internal market of the EU because it is a party to the European Economic Area Agreement and is also a member of the European Free Trade Association.
For more than a decade now, Poland has seen ever-increasing foreign investment in all industries and service sectors. One of the largest countries in the European Union, Poland is a substantial marketplace with 40 million consumers.
Since Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004, Polish businesses have been busily adapting to the competitive international market environment. There is an ongoing demand for high-tech equipment and know-how, which has spurred growth in key sectors such as energy, telecommunications, financial services, tourism, construction and production processes.
In recent years, Portugal has become an attractive market for investment in real estate. The market has seen huge growth in the volume of transactions during that time, particularly in Lisbon. This has been facilitated by the golden visa program, which allows citizens of non-EU Member States to apply for a residency permit, subject to certain conditions, one of which is a minimum investment in real estate of €500,000. Growth has also resulted from Europe wide tax reforms which have placed Portugal in the spotlight for investors aiming to benefit from the tax regime pertaining to non-residents. Additionally, as the economy has improved, national investors have regained access to credit, which has in turn enhanced their ability to finance real estate transactions.
In the wake of Romania's accession to the European Union in 2007, both external and local investors have found that the country offers promising business conditions for real estate investment. Significant consumer demand and a skilled workforce create an open invitation to international investors to establish their businesses here. Furthermore, investors' plans are supported by the government's will to drive the country's economy forward. The country's legal framework has for the most part been brought into harmony with EU legislation.
The financial crisis which still affects the world today naturally also affects Romania. However, the country's economy is still growing. Romanian businesses are pushing to modernize, and investors are showing steady interest in the real estate market.
Real estate investment offers one of the most secure and effective ways to invest money. As Russian real estate legislation is less complicated than either English or German Law, it makes Russia an attractive market for real estate investment for both residents and foreign investors. While Russia is experiencing economic challenges, investment continues and finance is available, providing opportunities for those who seek them.
The Slovak Republic has established extremely positive investment conditions for external investors, among them significant tax relief, and further reforms are expected in the areas of public procurement, banking, pensions, healthcare and education. The environment in Slovakia is predicted to evolve rapidly as these changes come about.
The current legal framework in Spain is highly complex, with regulation at regional, national and EU levels. This regulatory complexity requires experienced, knowledgeable legal advice to ensure compliance at all relevant levels.
The Swedish commercial real estate market is among the largest in Europe and is by far the largest in the Nordic region, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the region’s total commercial property value.
The Swedish commercial real estate market attracts foreign investors who benefit from a transparent market with easy accessible information. In general, no distinction is made between foreign and domestic investors, and the Swedish legal system facilitates investors’ needs for security, reliability, and time and cost efficiency.
Thailand offers one of the safest destinations in Southeast Asia for foreign and domestic investors to realize value in their investment. The effects of the economic crisis of the late 1990s have slowly dissipated, and, with its stable currency, urbanization, and prime geographical location, Thailand has developed mature and sophisticated residential and commercial property markets. Nevertheless, investors should be aware that restrictions are in place which limit their property rights within these markets.
United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi
The capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, has grown from being a modest settlement with an economy based on its fishing and pearl diving industries to a thriving, global city following the discovery of vast oil reserves in 1958. With oil reserves estimated to last for another 100 years, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has taken a considered, sustainable approach to its real estate development. The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council has developed the ‘Abu Dhabi Vision 2030’ program of urban evolution which is economically sustainable and socially cohesive. Abu Dhabi was ranked as the safest city in the Middle East and Africa by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index 2015.
United Arab Emirates - Dubai
The Emirate of Dubai has lead the way in its region by modernising its real estate laws and procedures to attract inward investment by opening up the market to foreign investors and offering certain protections to investors and end users.
Dubai is strategically located between Asia and Africa and Europe, making it a leading international business hub. The Government of Dubai has actively sought to diversify the economy away from reliance on oil and has encouraged certain strategic industries, including tourism, healthcare and education, each of which gives rise to particular real estate needs. The development of Dubai’s commercial ‘free zones’, offering full foreign ownership of companies and a tax-free guarantee for such companies, has also resulted in high levels of foreign investment into the Emirate bringing with it a significant demand for real estate.
UK - England and Wales
Whilst the background and historic legal principles in the United Kingdom may be complex for outside investors, the country offers a very well developed generally certain market for investment in real estate. Overseas investors will typically target property in Central London, but as demand continues to grow and outstrip availability investors and occupiers are often turning their attention to other hubs outside London (including the Thames Gateway, the "M4 tech corridor" to the west of London and cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield) where greater yields can often be achieved.
UK - Scotland
Due to its worldwide influence in sectors such as energy, biotech, financial services and tourism, Scotland is an attractive place in which to invest in real estate.
Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, has a thriving office investment market in the financial services sector. In addition, its status as a hub for the biotech industry and long history makes it an attractive destination for investment in the sectors of science, technology and leisure.
Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, has established itself as a home for financial services. It is also the UK’s largest and most successful retail location outside London’s West End. The oil and gas industry has led to a thriving market for office and other commercial property around the third city, Aberdeen. Scotland is a focus for investment in renewable energy with hydro, wind (onshore and offshore) and energy from waste projects to the fore.
In recent years, economic performance in Ukraine has been underpinned by growing domestic consumption, low inflation, export growth (particularly in metals, fuel and chemicals) and solid consumer and investor confidence. Although some of Ukraine's economic and legal structures are not as advanced as those in other regions in the CIS, recent government reform and support from such bodies as the International Monetary Fund are expected to spur growth in key sectors. As one of the first law practices to bring an international legal presence to the region, we have built a reputation for providing high-quality, client-driven legal services to leading local, international and multinational companies operating in Ukraine.
The laws applicable to real estate transactions differ from state to state across the US. We draw on the vast experience of our network of lawyers to assist those participating in the real estate market. DLA Piper’s Real Estate group in the US offers a full range of business legal services in areas including acquisitions and disposals, construction, financing, land use, planning and development, leasing, environmental law, insurance and tax.
Zimbabwe has developed an accurate system of property registration which aims to provide an efficient transfer process and security of title to land and land rights in a free market. The system allows both local and international entities to become registered owners of immovable property in Zimbabwe.
There is a need, however, for innovative financing and development structures to help address investment demand. A legal and regulatory framework is in place and is fairly stable. Given the high demand for housing and the huge infrastructure gap that currently exists, coupled with high investment return potentials, Zimbabwe continues to offer opportunities for investors.