Following the past 2 years of decline, a full market recovery is highly unlikely during 2010. The strongest developments towards recovery will be experienced in markets where controls existed for avoiding excessive lending, speculative buying and instability. Regions that have been hardest hit during the downfall of the real estate market have taken strong steps to avoid continued excessive decline. Control strategies will begin to show their results throughout 2010, with the hardest hit markets beginning to stabilise, while growth patterns emerge in the markets least affected by the downturn.

Investment approaches will evolve from excessive speculative buying into strategies with improved stability and market demand. Long term investments and buy-to-let ventures are expected to be the strongest growth areas, with fewer risks involved and excellent gains potential due to the exceptionally low priced investment options available in both emerging and established markets.

In order to fully understand the position of world real estate markets and the outlook for 2010, it is necessary to understand issues relating to the lead up to the world real estate market downturn. How these issues have affected the market will assist in understanding the coming year’s ideal investment strategies and selections most suitable for optimum returns.

The Mortgage Market

The mortgage market and loan financing has largely contributed to the sharp downturn in many world real estate markets. The lack of control in the sector resulted in excessive lending and often an absence of credit checks. This caused many mortgage holders to default on payments when the economy became strained.

The extent of the effects the mortgage market has contributed to the downturn in the real estate sector can be seen when comparing countries with traditionally strict lending practices against those where financing was readily and easily obtainable. Controlled markets have resisted severe downturns viewing recovery potential during 2010, while lenient markets continue their struggle to maintain stability.

Responding to the need for financing to assist with the turnaround in the real estate sector, central banks have reduced interest rates, expected to remain at record low levels until sometime in mid 2010. While the ability to finance properties has enabled an optimum moment to enter the real estate market, restrictions on lending criteria has become widespread, leaving many potential buyers unable to qualify for mortgage financing.

Supply and Demand

A slowdown of new construction projects in various locations around the world has been designed to assist in bridging the gap of excessive supply against demand. Locations with an excessive supply of housing for sale on the market are expected to take longer to recuperate from the downturn, as less competition is available for bringing up property prices.

While the prices in these areas remain low, investors searching for long term return potential may be able to find some optimum bargain opportunities, yet the long term growth is likely to be considerably less compared with areas where the supply and demand of properties is ideally balanced.

‘Buyers Market’ Benefits

2010 will continue to be an optimum buyer’s market, where those in a position to purchase will continue to receive and negotiate optimum deals. A sharp turnaround from the seller’s market environment of the recent past, equity enabled investors are facing the ideal market conditions to access the best deals expected to be available for many years. If investing for long term benefits, these buyers may also be in positions to once again benefit from a future turnaround into ‘seller’s market’ conditions.

Long Term Investment Returns

Investments based on long term return scenarios will be the most viable for 2010 in both emerging and established markets. As the real estate market in very few regions are expected to show any significant growth patterns during 2010, short term investment options are unlikely to prove successful.

As the real estate sector emerges from its present turmoil over the coming years, long term investments will provide the most significant growth potential. Long term investments also provide the least risk, an important consideration in the current market situation.

Expanding Buy-to-Let Interest

Investor interest to enter the buy-to-let market is expected to significantly increase during 2010 as the situation of the real estate market has provided ideal foundations for successful buy-to-let investments. As resources have become increasingly limited for many wishing to enter the real estate market, long term letting properties are increasing in demand.

Properties ideally situated for short term lettings will also provide investors with sought after yield returns due to the increasing demand for self catering accommodation. The expected growth in the buy-to-let market is predicted to increase competition in the market, therefore optimising properties for letting and correct advertising will further the potential in each local market.

Ideal Investment Locations

Buyers are increasingly looking into particular areas for investment strategies that suit their personal preferences, with fewer looking into markets purely for its investment potential. This has followed the sharp downturn in many of the emerging markets that were previously popular for short term investment strategies.

As benefits abound across all regions in the current market position, considerations relating to the preferential investment strategy will assist in deciding whether the selected location is ideal for investing during 2010. Research is essential for ensuring the correct location for investments, taking into consideration the local demand, supply and letting market saturation.

Looking into the market’s previous peak levels in comparison with the current downturn levels will provide some information relating to the length of time the investment will take to recuperate previous peaks in a stabilised market. Considering the loan availability and arranging a fixed rate loan for the longest time period possible will enable an excellent financing option to combine with the low priced properties. Taking advantage of the excellent financing options currently available will further benefit with optimising the potential gains obtainable due to the current market conditions.

As it is difficult to pin-point one particular location for providing optimum investment scenarios during 2010, observing conditions relating to the stability and growth potential, along with the supply and demand of the chosen regions will assist in selecting a suitable investment location. These conditions should include the overall stability of the real estate sector, the strength of the country’s economy and the government’s encouragement towards both foreign investment and tourism. Locations that have been hardest hit by the economic and real estate downturn are predicted to require the longest recovery periods, creating less potential investment growth over a similar timeframe in comparison to more stable markets.