The fifteenth Annual Monaco Yacht Show was held 21 to 24 September, and the Principality’s hotels were full.
While it’s been a good year for the travel industry in Monaco, the same cannot be said for her property market…
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Monaco’s annual yacht show which ran Wednesday 21 September to Saturday 24 September attracted over ninety of the world’s finest yachts and five hundred of the world’s best yachting companies.
The show has grown in popularity over the fifteen years since it began, and this year attracted over twenty thousand visitors to the Principality.
The luxury yachting market has tripled in the last eight years, and helped along by orders from Russia’s ‘nouveau riche’, the industry has seen an increase in orders of over a quarter in the last year alone.
But while luxury and Monaco are often associated, poor sales and a possible drop in property prices haven’t been seen in the Prinicpality’s real estate sector for over a decade.
Monaco Real Estate
In contrast to the highly successful Yacht Show, property sales in Monaco have been unusually slow in 2005. Although only a square mile in size there are over a hundred estate agencies battling for buyers to choose their services, and at times it seems that every third or fourth retail unit has been commandeered by a property company in Monte Carlo, the best known and most sought after area of Monaco.
According to Monte Carlo property specialist Henri Boulanger some estate agents are being squeezed, and viewed the yacht show as the last opportunity to turn a dismal year into a good one.
‘The yacht show attracts a wealthy clientele in considerable numbers, and the type of person who might be buying a luxury yacht might well be thinking about buying a property in Monaco as well.
While it wouldn’t have been etiquette to actively pursue buyers, many estate agents in Monaco were desperately hoping to see their doors open and for one or two potential buyers to call into their offices.
With good two bedroom apartments starting at over a million Euros, and penthouses with Mediterranean views often over five million and some of them over ten million, it can take just one sale to turn a bad year into a good one.’
Monaco’s property price inflation has often risen by over ten per cent a year in the last decade, but a combination of events have conspired this year with a possible stagnation in prices for 2005, and potentially even a fall.
The passing earlier this year of the popular Prince Rainier, Europe’s longest reigning monarch, cast a cloud over the area which it is just emerging from, but economic factors have also played a significant role in the downturn of the real estate market.
‘The strength of the Euro against the American dollar has led many of our potential buyers from the US to delay their viewing visit from this year to next, and earlier this year another source of important buyers from the UK held back until after the election to see what the outcome would be’, explains Henri, adding ‘and now with the uncertainty of the economy after the recent US hurricanes it is quite possible that some US buyers will delay their visit even more, or possibly to cancel buying in Monaco altogether’.
Monaco Grand Prix
No surprise then that while the tourists were in Monaco in increased numbers than last year, the prospect of several dozen potential property buyers descending upon Monaco and staying in her best hotels over a few days was seen as an opportunity not to be missed by the realtors.
But what is surprising perhaps is that the Yacht Show is viewed as a better opportunity than the Monaco Grand Prix for her realtors.
‘The Grand Prix attracts tens of thousands of people to Monaco every May’, explains Henri, ‘And every April we get a lot of new enquiries for property in Monaco, with the buyers asking to view apartments in Monte Carlo with views of the race circuit during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. But what they don’t realise is that many of the apartments for sale have been rented out for the weekend, and viewing is impossible.
Even if an apartment hasn’t been rented out for corporate hospitality it would take all day to get from one apartment to another. The Grand Prix is a great tourist event for Monaco, and some of the estate agents go away for a few days. They weren’t doing that during the Yacht Show!’