International briefs

Macao real estate market sees signs of an uptick

After months of real estate difficulties, the property market in Macao may be getting a boost.

Earlier this year, property transactions in the autonomous special administrative region of China were at their lowest point in 24 years, according to the International Herald Tribune. Only 311 apartments were sold in Macao in January, the lowest number of sales since 1985. Prices for apartments larger than 150 square meters have fallen 36 percent over the past year due to the global economic downturn and Macao’s stalled bureaucracy.

But now transactions are starting to speed up again. Roughly 960 apartments were sold in March, and the election of a new administration is expected to heat up the stalled construction market. As visa restrictions lighten, Macao, which is the world’s largest gambling market in terms of revenue, will also be able to draw more gamblers.

But while the region’s future looks brighter, there are still trouble spots. Several casinos under construction, including the Shangri-La, Sheraton, Traders and St. Regis hotel and casino projects, have been postponed indefinitely due to developer Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s financial difficulties. No new construction permits have been issued since 2008, when Macao’s former secretary for transport and public works was convicted of bribery and money laundering.

British expats struggle to sell homes abroad

British buyers are trying to unload their homes abroad now that the pound’s value has fallen.

The housing boom allowed Britons to pick up property across the Channel in France and Spain, but since the bubble has burst, many must now decide what to do with their homes abroad, the International Herald Tribune reported.

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Some of these expats have already returned to the United Kingdom, but others have been trapped by the down market, unable to sell their foreign homes.

In 2005, there were 133,000 British people living permanently in France and 205,000 in Spain, according to the European Union statistics office. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the number of Britons living in France has dropped significantly.

For example, membership in the town of Pays de la Loire’s Euro-Mayenne Association, which brings together foreigners and local businesspeople, has fallen to 363, from a high of 500 in 2004. As a result, business has fallen for some local merchants, like Grainne Cavanagh, director of a moving company near Biarritz, by as much as 50 percent.

Josephine Baker’s home on market in Paris suburb

The 19th-century French château once belonging to actress and entertainer Josephine Baker is now on the market for $16.3 million, the International Herald Tribune reported. The 10-bedroom home, Le Beau Chêne, is about 15 minutes outside of Paris and contains 6,500 square feet of living space and about 3.7 acres of gardens.

Baker, who made her way to France via Harlem and wowed Paris in the 1920s, bought the home in 1929 from Anna, countess of Noailles, and lived there for 18 years before selling it to the parents of the present sellers in 1947. Baker’s visitors while in residence included Mohammed V of Morocco. The château’s amenities include a tennis court, a swimming pool, a garden room with a fountain and huts for raising animals.

Compiled by Sara Polsky