Monte Carlo Property Glitters For 2008 - By: Roger Munns

Description : Monte Carlo has appealed to Europe's wealthy - and since the advent of jet travel from further afield since the 1880's, but recently British money in particular has been finding its way to Monte Carlo at record levels.

Signs of the British in Monte Carlo are everywhere to be seen. Each apartment building has a good number of British owners, and the harbour is full of yachts flying the English ensign - some estimates put the figure as high as fifty per cent.

Previously a relatively small group of Monaco residents, the number of British people living in Monte Carlo has doubled in the last two years since 2005, with some 3000 now claiming residency.

Attaining residency in Monte Carlo, the most popular part of Monaco,necessarily means renting or buying an apartment. The lowest priced property on the market at the moment is a 30m2 studio with a 7m2 balcony in the Fontvieille district at 720,000 Euros. With closing costs this rises to over 800,000 Euros. As well as buying a property, to gain residency in Monaco a bank account needs to be opened in the Principality, with account opening deposits varying between 100,000 and 500,000 Euros.

Mid range is a 210m2 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment in Monte Carlo, close to Casino Square, at 4,200,000 Euros. And at the top end is a three floor penthouse apartment in the well known Eden Star development at 25,000,000 Euros, equivalent to around 16 million Sterling.

At the opening of Monaco's new consulate in London recently, Prince Albert of Monaco acknowledged the important contribution British people are making to his country, and said he would like to see more in the Principality. Prince Albert is particularly keen to see British entrepreneurs move to Monaco, but one travel guide for the country doesn't think Prince Albert has fully thought through his ideal scenario.

'Prince Albert said recently that he welcomes British entrepreneurs moving to Monaco, but that he wouldn't be distributing leaflets on London's streets to get more to do so. But he is missing the point. The costs involved in moving to Monaco are prohibitively high, even compared to London standards, and if he is serious about British talent moving to Monaco while we don't expect Monaco to remove the financial barriers he could move to lower the bar a bit at least.'

A well respected US magazine recently claimed Monaco has the most overpriced real estate in the world, claiming the rental returns as part of their figures meant the tax haven's property costs were unduly high.

In response a Monaco internet site says the American magazine are wrong, and have forgotten why Monaco's property prices are high in the first place.

'The error they made was comparing Monaco with places like Rome, Warsaw, Los Angeles and Vancouver, and they also overestimated closing costs. While admittedly high in Monaco at around 11 per cent, it's not common to be 20 per cent that their research was based on.'

The comparison of 50 financial centres assumed the property was not a main residence and looked at rental returns - another error when calculating Monaco's property prices according to the Monaco internet guide.

'By law in Monaco rentals are a minimum of one year, so it's obvious that rental returns are going to be less than places where weekly and six monthly rentals are possible. To gain residency in Monaco via renting the residency office needs evidence of a twelve month contract, so Monaco is in a unique position when compared to other leading financial centres.'

'There is a shortage of available property in Monaco and high demand that shows no sign of slowing down - given all these factors we just think the US magazine's analysis of the Monaco real estate scene has been done without taking local factors into consideration.'

Given the love affair Britain's elite seems to have with Monte Carlo, the real estate and finance sectors are probably in for a reasonable time in the years to come, with or without a world recession.

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