Jo Sinnott, the lively and personable presenter of Real Estate TV’s hugely successful ‘Next Big Thing’ series as well as a regular presenter on Sky Travel, took some time out from her hectic schedule to speak to Rhiannon Davies about her new series, the places she believes people will be investing in property in the future and where she would ideally like to own a home abroad.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me Jo, I understand you’re literally in the middle of filming the new series of ‘Next Big Thing’ for Real Estate TV…
That’s right! It’s a ten part series and we’re covering loads of interesting destinations. We’ve just got back from the UAE, checking out the property markets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the less well known states of Ras Al-Khaimah and Ajman. We’ve also been to the Cape Verde islands – which I loved – and soon we’ll be off to Egypt and the Cayman Islands, so it’s all go at the moment.
Do you enjoy all the travelling involved in your job?
I do, yes, I don’t think I could do this job if I didn’t love it. I have a fairly young family so it takes quite a lot of organisation, but my husband and I are both freelance so we’re usually able to juggle the childcare. The upside is, I get to recce places that I can then take my family back to on holiday.
For example, we’ve just filmed a ‘Next Big Thing’ episode in Cape Verde, not only is it an interesting place to invest in property, but it’s also an ideal location for my next family holiday!
It’s easy to see why Cape Verde is being billed as ‘Europe’s Caribbean.’ The islands that make up the archipelago are still virtually untouched – ‘virgin territory’ as we like to call it. They’re on the same latitude as the Caribbean, so offer near perfect weather, and they are just a short to medium haul hop from the UK and mainland Europe – which is a serious factor to consider especially when you have children. The aim is to transform the islands into high-end resorts and there is such potential for them to become prosperous that I personally think they’re ideal for a holiday and more specifically for investment.
Would you consider investing in Cape Verde yourself then, or in any of the other locations you’re currently examining for ‘Next Big Thing?’
The locations we’ve chosen for the new series all offer undeniable opportunity to investors – that’s a given – but personally, yes, with the research I do before filming, the knowledge I gain from being on the ground in each location, and the opportunity I have to speak to so many market experts, I would consider investing in Cape Verde. Specifically I’m attracted to Santo Antao – it’s green, lush and mountainous on one side, with perfect beaches on the other, and just like the rest of Cape Verde, you can still get front line beach properties at reasonable prices.
The islands have ambitious plans. If, as predicted, they come to fruition, demand will likely see prices rising fast which is why Cape Verde is being profiled in the new series of ‘Next Big Thing.’
So the next family holiday will actually be a property inspection trip!
Ha! Yes, if I get my way, although my husband would really like to visit Dubai. However, I’ve just returned from quite a long trip to the UAE, putting together three programmes for the ‘Next Big Thing’ series, so I’d like to explore somewhere else in my leisure time!
Mind you, I could put into practice my theory that the UAE can now offer a rather interesting two-centre holiday. For example you can enjoy a city break in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, followed by some down time on the beach in Ras al Khaimah or Ajman
Now that the other emirates are opening up to overseas business and tourism, there is so much choice when it comes to investing in UAE. You have Dubai – still an incredible place for property investment with ever increasing numbers of companies and individuals doing business here – but you also have the likes of Ras Al-Khaimah and Ajman rising in appeal as well.
Both RAK and Ajman offer a more laid back pace of life with some stunning beaches and a burgeoning holiday market. But thanks to the Emirates Highway making them more accessible and their freehold property laws being under review, they also offer potentially profitable property markets too. Prices are still so much more affordable than Dubai – and if you take the approach of having a two centre holiday, with shopping in Dubai and relaxing in Ras Al-Khaimah for example, or you consider working in Dubai and living in Ajman maybe, you can see that there’s room for property investment profits across the UAE.
Abu Dhabi’s is another interesting property market. It’s actually the richest by far of all the UAE states with around 95% of the emirates’ oil reserves – so with all that oil it doesn´t need to rely on tourism and development for its financial security, hence there’s been no great rush to build fast and furiously. It also means, Abu Dhabi has had the luxury of watching its neighbour Dubai do it all before and is now copying what works and changing what doesn´t.
They have made it very clear that they will build their infrastructure ALONGSIDE their developments, and they have an infrastructure blueprint for the city with an aim to make Abu Dhabi ‘the most modern, efficient city in the world.’ A pretty big statement hey! But what I find amazing about all the emirates is that anything seems possible.
From an investment point of view, there’s a strong buy to let market in Abu Dhabi and developers are catering very much to the high end. At the moment Abu Dhabi has too little property to accommodate its growing numbers of wealthy visitors and residents, so, although the price of property is relatively high especially considering that it´s essentially an emerging market, the rents that those properties can achieve are substantial!
However, for my next family holiday I think the UAE is too long haul. And after the luxury of flying back with Silverjet, I’m not sure I can handle cattle class with a toddler!
Are there any property investment hotspots closer to home that ‘Next Big Thing’ is covering in the new series then?
Absolutely! We have some fantastic property markets almost on our doorstep! Take Morocco for example, we covered Marrakech in the first series and now we’re back to take a closer look. You can’t deny the natural lure of the country – it’s short haul, it has fantastic weather, it has so much history and increasingly more and more people want to travel there, so there is massive property investment potential.
What’s more, one area that we’ve focused on called the Costa Vista is just across the Mediterranean from Spain’s Costa del Sol – so you can draw many comparisons, except when it comes to property prices. Property in this part of Morocco is so much more affordable than in Spain meaning that there is plenty of room for growth.
We’re also about to explore the property investment potential in Egypt, which is also a relatively short-haul from the UK, before heading further a field to the Cayman Islands.
So no let up in the travelling any time soon then?
No, I love it, I really do, I get to explore so many places that I wouldn’t necessarily otherwise go to. I always intend to return as well, but my schedule seldom lets me! That’s the only regret I have really – that and not collecting airmiles!
Catch Jo Sinnott on Real Estate TV presenting the brand new series of ‘Next Big Thing’ on demand at www.realestatetv.tv.