Buying a home in the right destination for the right price is even more important these days. Expert opinion varies on which will prove to be the most profitable investments outside the UK this year, but according to The International Law Partnership, the top 10 is not just about the best location, but also about the way you buy.
 
A smarter way of thinking is crucial right now, points out John Howell from The International Law Partnership (www.lawoverseas.com), and sensible investments will almost always include:
 
* timeless destinations that will always hold their cachet
* reduced stock in quality places
* alternative methods of investing (like repossessions and distressed sales)
* investment in developers and more adventurous destinations
 
Mr Howell’s top 10 investment choices for 2009 are:
 
1 Paris
Paris was recently voted best risk adjusted investment location by PricewaterhouseCooper. It is the most visited city in the world and well placed to weather the current recession. In Paris, location is everything. The third and fourth arrondissements are good areas to search, with heavy rental demand and reasonable prices compared to the more fashionable sixth.
 
2 Miami
The city was heavily hit by the property crash, and you can pick up good, central homes at half the price they were a year ago. Property is being sold at less than the amount it cost to build it – always a good test of value. Experts think the bottom of the Miami market has been reached – or nearly reached – so it is a good time to buy for capital growth in the mid-term. Buyers must choose well and a sensible rate of return – 4-5% – should be possible.
 
3 London
There are startling bargains to be had in the English capital. Riverside apartments are being shifted at half their original value, and they should let well until a capital gain is made. Another plus is that there are no currency exchange risks to worry about if you invest in London.
 
4 Berlin
Berlin has in fact proved to be an unexpected top destination for investment for the last two years. Property prices fell sharply with reunification and Berlin is a place where locals still predominantly rent, thus a supply of middle-class tenants. Taking a 5-10 year view, Berlin is a fantastic investment spot.

5 Spain
Despite recent problems, Spain will always be the nearest destination where you can guarantee good weather for most of the year and the infrastructure can support large numbers of British retirees. The overpriced market has, in effect, collapsed. Now spectacular bargains are available.

6 Distressed sales
Many people are in financial difficulty and are desperate to sell. Investment properties not pulling in a quick profit can be picked up at give-away prices. Another variation is to buy heavily discounted units direct from the developer.

7 Repossession
As ghoulish as this might appear, you can get hold of true bargains once homes are repossessed by banks. But, you need local advice and you should inspect the property before purchasing. Buying a repossession at auction can be expensive and it might be better dealing direct with the bank.

8 Investment in developers
Rather than buying a property with all the attendant worries, you can instead make a welcome fixed interest investment with a developer. Your money will be tied up for only a couple of years, but obviously you need to check out the status of the developer to ensure your money will be safe.

9 Commercial property in Slovakia
It may sound strange, but Slovakia has one of the most successful economies in Europe and is a recent entrant to the EU. Whether you are investing in a small corner shop or a warehouse, prices are competitive and returns good.

10 Morocco
A more adventurous location, but Morocco appeals for several reasons: it is close, French-speaking and has good weather almost all year round. The Moroccan government has made a commitment to improve the country’s infrastructure and there are three different markets here: on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and in Marrakech.

Mr Howell adds a further word of advice: ‘It is now more important than ever to take advice, think carefully about the reason behind the purchase and make sure you buy the right property at the right price and at the right time.’

* Luxury property for sale overseas