The grim economic uncertainties and weak pound of the past 12 months may have kept buyer confidence low, and prices in markets from Bulgaria to Dubai (both property stars only five years ago) may have continued to tumble thanks to a glut of identikit developments no one wants or can afford, but cash buyers have a different story to tell.
People searching for a quality second home, and not reliant on a mortgage, have been enjoying deals in sought-after and secure favourites with good rental returns, such as southern France, the Alps and prime parts of the Algarve.
Here are the areas to watch in 2011:
BARBADOS: HOT DEALS
As in Europe, prime areas of the Caribbean fared best this year and top of the pile is Barbados, a safe island with an established infrastructure and direct flights from London.
Weston St James, a development of one- to four-bedroom apartments on the island's exclusive west coast priced from £91,980 through Cluttons Resorts, sold 41 of its 45 units this year.
"Budgets have been reined in and buyers are downsizing," says Robert Green of Cluttons Resorts. "There's a new breed of development on Barbados offering exceptional value in an A1 location. Apartments priced below £319,360 coming to the market next year include Mullins Walk, 18 three- and four-bedroom properties at Mullins Bay."
Knight Frank has three-bedroom town houses in St Peter's just 10 minutes from the sea for £415,165, while the Four Seasons development at Paradise Beach has refinanced, with completion of this resort of 35 super-deluxe villas expected for sale through Savills in 2012.
FRANCE: OUR EURO STAR
Thanks to the Eurostar and the French TGV, getting to France is more of a pleasure than a pain, and there are further track improvements due in the coming years. By 2014 Eurostar says Paris will be under two hours from St Pancras and the lavender fields of the south just five hours away.
Last month President Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans to abolish France's wealth tax, a move that would benefit thousands of Britons with property there.
"Scrapping wealth tax would provide an edge for France that even in these uncertain times has retained strong demand," says Paddy Dring of Knight Frank. "France continues to drive over half of our international enquiries."
Erna Low has studios in Nice from £118,260 and two-bedroom apartments in delightful Menton near Monaco for £251,720. Aylesford is selling a carefully restored 19th-century Gascon farmhouse, reduced from £674,915 to £502,600, while a 17th-century chateau just 90 minutes from Paris has been reduced by £2,111,750 to £4,223,500.
FLORIDA: COASTING IT
A weakened US dollar and prices 70 per cent off their 2007 highs make all parts of Florida interesting for cash buyers. Theme Parks, golf courses and the Gulf Coast keep visitor numbers high, while daily British Airways flights to Tampa from March will make access easier to the less-crowded west coast.
Buyers should beware of oversupply in Fort Lauderdale on the east coast and Kissimmee in the south - this could suppress prices for some time.
Torcana has one- and two-bedroom tenanted properties in Orlando from £41,455 - reduced from 2007 highs of £137,900 - with current net rental yields of over seven per cent. Two-bedroom town houses at Lely Golf Resort in the sophisticated coastal town of Naples in south-west Florida are £121,300 through Winkworth. Theme park towns are for children, Naples is for grown-ups.
CITY BOLTHOLES: SO CLOSE TO AN ESCAPE
Buyers with an eye on liquidity and rental consistency have been buying city properties this year says James Price of Knight Frank, producing good demand in European cities as well as prime New York locations.
In Italy, Knight Frank has apartments in Florence from £392,785 and on the Lido in Venice from £435,000, both cities with year-round rental demand.
In the party-mad German capital, Cluttons Resorts is selling off-plan apartments at yoo Berlin from £228,340. A quarter of the 88 units sold this autumn.
Savills: savills.co.uk/abroad; 020 7016 3740
Aylesford International: aylesford.com; 020 7349 5100
Athena Mortgage: athenamortgages.com