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Winter Sports Fans Snapping Up Property In Ski Resorts Are Driving British Interest In Bulgaria And Canada.

The latest Global Property Hot Spots league compiled by currency specialist HIFX has shown enquiries for cash aimed at purchasing homes in the pair of increasingly popular destinations for British skiers rose substantially in February.

Interest in Canada rose by 66% during the month, while enquiries for Bulgaria increased by 17%.

But both continued to hold a far smaller proportion of all enquires – 9.4% for Bulgaria and 2% for Canada – than old favourites Spain and France, which attracted 25.25% and 17.8% of all interest respectively.

Interest in Australia, which had risen rapidly in January, fell back substantially – dropping by 63% to 10.6% of all enquiries – while demand for the United Arab Emirates, home to Dubai, fell 79% to 1.5% of all enquiries.

Bulgaria's reputation as the latest property hotspot has been supported by the arrival of upmarket estate agents Savills and Hamptons in the market. Both have begun to heavily advertise new property in Bansko, considered the country's number one ski resort.

The luxury apartments are expensive by Bulgarian standards but the agents have vowed to offer a five-star service with problems often encountered in property purchases in the country ironed out.

Experts have warned however that the Eastern European property bubble could be at risk of overheating, with large numbers of developments being built and investors chasing high returns who could be easily scared off by any market wobble.

HIFX said its study showed Britons considering buying property abroad fell into three categories.

The traditionalists make up the largest group – opting for holiday homes in France, Spain and other destinations close to the UK. Cheap flights, the ease of renting out properties, a well-established expat community and the simplicity of escaping to the sun are the driving force behind their purchases.

Adventurers were more daring in their choices, heading further afield and tending to be at the vanguard of investment in either less familiar destinations such as Bulgaria and Morocco, or farther afield, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The most flexible group were hotspot investors, whose financially driven decisions led to countries in Eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria and Estonia, and the latest rising markets, such as Dubai and Egypt.

Each set of buyers faced their own risks, with traditionalists hit by higher prices, adventurers taking on unproven markets and hotspot chasers at the mercy of changing fads or sudden market fluctuation.

Mark Bodega, marketing director at HIFX, said: 'People buy abroad for many different reasons. For some people it's an emotional decision based on a life-long dream, for others it's an exciting step into the unknown and for some it's simply a financial investment.'

HIFX's February league showed Portugal made up 4% of enquiries, the US accounted for 3.8% and Italy totalled 1.6%.

More exotic destinations regularly featured on lifestyle property television shows also made the list, including 3.1% of enquiries for the Cape Verde Islands, 1.2% for Turkey and 1.1% for Morocco.