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The property market in Pattaya appears to be hotting up, with condominiums and apartments attracting both foreign and local investors. According to property consultants CB Richard Ellis, part of the attraction of this resort is its location as it is the nearest beach resort to Bangkok, at just over an hour's drive away. It also has very good amenities including good restaurants, shopping five-star hotels and residential properties, golf courses and of course some extremely nice beaches.
Its popularity is likely to be boosted by the fact that a number of celebrities are choosing to buy homes here, and former world champion snooker player, Jimmy White recently bought an apartment in a luxury beachfront development, The Palm Wongamat Beach. Apparently his reasons for choosing to buy property here are the excellent location, sea views and good pricing. This particular development is 70% sold in spite of pre-sales beginning just six months ago. Foreign buyers accounted for 65% of sales, while Thai investors accounted for 35%.
The resort is also proving particularly popular with Russians, who are looking to buy luxury holiday homes, but there are also significant numbers of Thai nationals who have bought property for their own use or as an investment, and some are choosing to purchase several properties in one development.
Some buyers are choosing to purchase apartments rather than condominiums due to the fact that most apartment buildings have a building's manager on hand to resolve any issues in individual units. Condominium buildings managers only have responsibility for management and maintenance of common areas, and are not responsible for maintenance of individual units, which could make condominiums much less attractive to investors looking for a hassle free purchase.

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Now is the “best time” to invest in Portuguese property as prices continue to fall, according to several real estate firms in the country.
The latest housing report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ci Portuguese Housing Market Survey indicates that national activity has fallen one point to -49 and national confidence has fallen two points to -61.Fiona Sheffield, co-owner of central Portugal property firm Lapis Lazuli says this should drive overseas purchasers into the market.
“I would recommend buying now; it’s probably the best time for it. Demand has picked up for us since the start of the year. We mainly sell to Dutch, Norwegian and English clients. We are seeing a lot of overseas buyers who used to go to France and Spain now coming to Portugal.”
The news comes as another Portuguese agency, Infinto Real, believes that recent investment in the country could help put it back on the tourism map. Vilamoura, a tourism hotspot on the coast, has received €1.3 million boost to improve pedestrian and cycle routes that surround the resort’s marinas and hotels. Stephen Anderson, Infinto Real’s managing director: “As property prices have dropped, Vilamoura has become more accessible to those looking to make a purchase and these improvements and increased interest as a holiday ‘hot-spot’, are great news for investors whose assets will only appreciate over time as the improvements continue to take shape. Many countries are struggling in these austere times but the trade of national and international tourism, which is predicted to be high this summer, is vitally important to the Portuguese economy.  It is important that local businesses and the government take heed of this and make the most of the opportunity to show how much Portugal has to offer so we can attract new and loyal visitors and investors, which could lead the country back to financial health.”

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HARLEQUIN Hotels & Resorts, the owner and developer of the Merricks Resort, has purchased the Allamanda Beach Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church in Barbados. Harlequin will commence an exciting $11m BBD renovation to transform this beachfront property into a luxury boutique hotel.
The planned opening will be under Harlequin’s newly created Luxury Boutique Hotel division and is scheduled to open in April 2012.
The renovation, interior redesign and remodel of the former Allamanda Hotel, will be overseen by Harlequin Developments, Development Director, David Campion, based in Barbados. Harlequin will focus on using several local Barbados based companies and sub-contractors to carry out the works. The project will bring a much needed boost to the local construction business.
On a recent visit to Barbados, Dave Ames, Chairman of Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, said, “I am delighted to announce this exciting new Hotel Brand for Harlequin and Barbados. This Boutique Hotel offering will bring further investment to Barbados and provide more employment opportunities as well as bringing many new holidaymakers to this Caribbean Jewel”.
Harlequin successfully opened its first ever luxury resort at Buccament Bay, in St Vincent and the Grenadines in August 2010. Despite the difficult world economy and declining tourism travel, they have managed to increase tourist volume and bring many first time travellers to the Caribbean and are currently running at 85 per cent occupancy in low season.
Buccament Bay Resort’s luxury facilities include The Pat Cash Tennis Academy, Liverpool FC Soccer School and Harlequin Performing Arts Academy. Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon Tennis Champion, who conducted The Merricks ground breaking, is currently at Buccament Bay Resort coaching guests and local school children. The Liverpool FC Soccer School offers coaching sessions to guests daily and works with local schools in St Vincent. The project is overseen by Liverpool Football Club and a number of its former legends who take part in the coaching programs throughout the year. Liverpool FC Under 19’s Team recently stayed at Buccament Bay Resort whilst on their end of season tour, visiting local schools and played a match against St Vincent’s under 19’s squad.
Speaking from Harlequin’s offices at Hythe House in Maxwell, Barbados, Garrett Ronan (Vice President of Hotel and Resort Development) said, “This launch of Harlequin’s Boutique Brand in Barbados with the renovation of the former Allamanda Hotel will bring a new ultra-chic “South Beach” style Hotel to the market. When completed, it will offer 46 luxury suites, a new cocktail style bar, upscale restaurant, spa garden, pools and gym. The hotel will offer a new level of anticipatory yet discreet service infused with Barbadian hospitality”.

To find out more on the investment opportunities with Harlequin Hotels click on the link, investment prices from £100k prices in the Boutique hotel start at £250k local comparable is £370k ( Cranes Resort ) - HARLEQUIN LINK

To book a discounted holiday in the St Vincent resort please follow the link - BUCCAMENT BAY



The pound remains fighting fit against other currencies given that - next to Europe and the US - Britain appears quite stable. This, however, is not to suggest that British economic data is that encouraging.
Last week, for instance, July results in retail sales increased beneath forecasts, indicating just 0.2 per cent growth compared to expectations of 0.4 per cent. This tells us that consumers continue to feel inhibited on the high street, preferring to save than spend.
In addition, unemployment jumped last month too, growing +0.2 per cent compared to June to reach 7.9 per cent. This is perhaps minor compared to unemployment in Spain – breaching 20.0 per cent at present – but nonetheless indicates that conditions in British labour are tough.
Elsewhere in British economic data, last week the Bank of England minutes revealed that the MPC opted 9-0 against raising interest rates this month, telling us that all nine members of the BoE committee prefer to hold rates at 0.50 per cent. This is to protect fragile growth in Britain: though inflation is expected to breach 5.0 per cent in coming months, higher interest rates could damage economic expansion in Britain and this must be kept safe.
Last but not least in Britain, the latest public sector net borrowing data suggests that the Chancellor’s deficit reduction plans are proceeding on course. Last month public borrowing entered surplus -£1.961bn (minus figures in borrowing are positive) compared to expectations of +£0.2bn borrowing, meaning that spending in the public sector arrived more than £2bn forecasts.
In total public sector spending in the first four months in 2011 arrived £4bn less than 2010 at £40bn, while the independent Office for Budget Responsibility believes government spending plans are on course. This is perhaps the one bright spot in the present outlook.

Savers approaching retirement are at risk of losing “substantial pension income”, because of their exposure to falling equity markets and rising inflation, providers warned this week.
As stock market volatility intensified – with the FTSE 100 index falling 4.5 per cent on Thursday and ending the week 16.74 per cent down on its July 7 level – advice firm Annuity Direct said some investors are in danger of losing almost a quarter of their retirement income if they remain invested in equity funds.
Author - Matthew Vincent
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To take control of your pension invest via a SIPP - About SIPP investment.
Savers now have a choice of just eight savings accounts that offer a real return on their money, following a rise in the rate of inflation in July.
Inflation figures released on Tuesday show that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) - the index used by the government to measure inflation - rose from 4.2 per cent in June to 4.4 per cent in July.
This follows an unexpected fall in CPI from 4.5 per cent to 4.2 per cent in June.
The rise means that a basic rate taxpayer now needs to find a savings account paying 5.50 per cent per annum to beat inflation, while a higher rate taxpayer needs to earn at least 7.33 per cent on their cash each year.
However, there are only eight accounts that beat the effects of tax and inflation for basic rate taxpayers. All of these accounts are fixed-rate tax-free Individual Savings Accounts (Isa), with the majority from building societies or small banks.

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UK companies could shave up to £100bn off their total pension liabilities by offering members inducements to transfer out of schemes.
However, up to a third of those choosing to transfer out of schemes would be going against their own best interests, a study shows.

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Food prices are skyrocketing all across the globe, and there's no end in sight. The United Nations says food inflation is currently at 30% a year, and the fast-eroding value of the dollar is causing food prices to appear even higher (in contrast to a weakening currency). As the dollar drops in value due to run away money printing at the Federal Reserve, the cost to import foods from other nations looks to double in just the next two years -- and possibly every two years thereafter.

That's probably why investors around the globe are flocking to farmland as the new growth industry. "Investors are pouring into farmland in the U.S. and parts of Europe, Latin America and Africa as global food prices soar," reports Bloomberg magazine ( "A fund controlled by George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund manager, owns 23.4 percent of South American farmland venture Adecoagro SA."

Jim Rogers is also quoted in the same story, saying, "I have frequently told people that one of the best investments in the world will be farmland."

That's because demand for food is accelerating even as radical climate changes, a loss of fossil water supplies, and the failure of genetically engineered crops is actually reducing food yields around the globe. Ceres Partners, which invests in farmland, has produced astonishing 16 per cent annual returns since its launch in 2008. And this is during a depressed economy when most other industries are showing losses.

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Controversial proposals that would have seen around 180,000 British expats pay an additional tax on their property in France have been scrapped by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. The Daily Telegraph reports that even though the French parliament approved the law, the president chose to remove it through an amendment after protests from both British and French Property owners.  After next year’s election, French expatriates will be represented by an MP for the first time. The proposed changes to the law which would have seen them pay a substantial additional tax on their homes would therefore have been ‘electoral suicide’ for Mr Sarkozy. 
The new proposals would have made homes used for only part of the year liable for a tax based on 20 per cent of the annual market rent of the property. Owning a second property in France would therefore have cost significantly more on an annual basis. 
The new law would have affected 360,000 families with second homes in France. 
Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam, one of nine senators who oppose the tax and met Mr Sarkozy on Saturday, told the Daily Telegraph: "The president told us he had been convinced (the law was a bad idea) and had taken his decision (to scrap it). 
"British people help rejuvenate some of our countryside and have a very positive influence, and we should be grateful.” 
Denis MacShane, Labour MP, former Europe minister and regular visitor to France, said: "This is welcome news for the hundreds of thousands of Brits who live and work or have homes in France and other European countries, as it is clear that EU rules would not permit a selective tax just on one group of residents in France."


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Australia’s jobless rate unexpectedly rose to an eight-month high in July as hiring stalled. Unemployment jumped to 5.1 percent in July from 4.9 percent a month earlier, the first increase since October. The number of workers fell by 100 after a revised 18,200 gain in June. The Aussie did weaken after the release but has since retraced to trade in the mid AUD$1.57 level.

Yesterday the markets once again took a knock, in particular – European banking shares. Societe Generale SA, France’s second-largest bank, denied “all market rumors” and asked the nation’s market watchdog for an investigation after speculation France’s creditworthiness was in doubt sent the shares tumbling. Societe Generale led European bank stocks to the lowest since the aftermath of the credit crisis yesterday. France’s top credit rating was confirmed by all three major rating companies as speculation that Europe’s debt crisis would spread to the region’s second-biggest economy. As a result of the stock market plunging investors sought the haven of the greenback with both Sterling and the euro losing over 1.5 cents each mid afternoon to $1.6124 and $1.4167 respectively.

Additionally Meryvn King gave a gloomy outlook for the UK which consequently pushed Sterling down against its counterparts. He predicted that inflation would increase to 5% before dropping to below their target rate of 2%. Two pieces of data out from the United States today: Trade Balance figures and Unemployment Claims both released at 13:30 GMT. 

Author - William Holliday