At the end of another 12 months of travel, Cathy Hawker reveals her choice of the year’s eye-catching homes abroad — and points buyers in the direction of her hot picks for 2015.
Best new area
Downtown New York
The emergence of the Downtown area in Lower Manhattan is New York’s big 2014 property story. Tax incentives have encouraged firms and residents to move in, and seriously glamorous flats are on offer. In the first quarter of the year, property sales rose 22 per cent year on year in Lower Manhattan. With 191 apartments, 50 West Street is a 780ft, 64-floor curved glass skyscraper due for completion in 2016.
Four floors are devoted entirely to swimming pools, a gym, restaurant, observation deck and cinema. One- to five-bedroom homes with pared-back, contemporary interiors and 20ft windows start from £1.02 million with typical monthly service charges and property taxes of £1,845.
50 West Street: through JP Knight & Partners
Rooms with a view: flats at 50 West Street look out over the New York skyline
Best small scale
The Maremma, Italy
The Maremma region of south-western Tuscany, unspoilt and just an hour from Pisa, stretches from Elba to Argentario with sandy beaches, dense pine forests and farmland. Its world-class modern wineries designed by top architects include Rocca di Frassinello, by Renzo Piano, and the Antinori vineyard at Le Mortelle.
Borgo Santa Chiara, 15 minutes inland is a development of 10 three-bedroom townhouses newly built from the ruins of a ramshackle farmhouse by a local family on their own estate. The two-storey stone and stucco homes are next to the Pelagone Golf Club with private and communal gardens and a pool. Prices start from £540,000 with annual service charges from £1,660.
Borgo Santa Chiara: through Savills
Prices in the Dordogne, south-west France, have fallen by up to 50 per cent. Stewart Cook of Classic French Homes recommends buyers consider ease of access through Bergerac or Toulouse airports and keep close to a busy town or village such as Lalinde, Monpazier, Monflanquin or Eymet.
Cook is selling a newly renovated seven-bedroom maison de maître in 25 acres near Eymet, with cottages, barns, stables and river frontage, down from £790,000 to £552,00. A seven-bedroom house in six acres, 30 minutes from Bergerac and sold for £1,385,000 in 2008, is now £871,000.
Classic French Homes: through Knight Frank
The comeback queen: next year's land tax reforms make Edinburgh an appealing prospect
Where to spend your money next year
The Scottish referendum shone a light on the city of Edinburgh, a Georgian gem offering super-size family homes at appealing prices to space-starved Londoners. Edinburgh accounted for over half of all Scottish sales above £1 million from January to June, and a shortage of properties for sale pushed up prices there nearly five per cent over the year.
Next April, Scotland’s new land and building transaction tax replaces stamp duty, with a top rate of 12 per cent on homes over £1 million. Typical costs for a £500,000 home will change from £15,000 today to £27,300, an increase of 82 per cent.
In Edinburgh’s elegant, 18th-century New Town, a four-bedroom garden flat over two floors is £725,000, and a three-bedroom top-floor flat with high ceilings and original features is £375,000. Through Strutt & Parker.
The best shopping destination
Visiting India will be easier from next month, when its government launches electronic visas for Britons. Take advantage with a shopping trip to Udaipur, an hour’s flight from Delhi in the south of Rajasthan.
Stay at the five-star Leela Palace with direct views of the Lake Palace, one of India’s most-photographed buildings. Shop in the City Palace at Aashka for traditional furniture and Anokhi for textiles and clothes.
Outside the city walls visit Ganesh Emporium, a family shop established in 1970 that supplies Graham and Green in the UK and is a favourite with international designers. You’ll find jewel-coloured pashminas, antique textiles, marble statues, paintings and intricately carved Gujarati panels.