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First time overseas buyers increasingly opting for gated properties

Not only do they offer security in terms of lessening the chance of a break-in but also privacy and shared facilities like spas and pools.

'Although some investors might feel gated communities are not individual enough they do provide a high degree of security and privacy and good rental return,' said Samantha West, who help British investors find the right property in Natal, north east Brazil.

One first time foreign buyer, Paul Knott and his partner Sheila opted for just such a development because they wanted to take advantage of the potential and start an overseas property portfolio.

'Surging interest from Americans, Europeans and native Brazilians as well as a new airport under construction convinced us it was the biggest no brainer around,' said Paul, 42, who lives in London.

The couple then spent some time researching properties and eventually chose to use a real estate company that only dealt with Brazil as they felt they would have the best understanding of the country and buying there.

They chose Pipa, an authentic Brazilian resort with sweeping beaches and a vibrant nightlife as well as environmental friendly construction. 'We settled on a three bedroom detached villa in Pipa Hills for €190,000 and although I could have certainly bought cheaper, the project is low density, only 13% will be built upon, the property offers privacy as it's detached and is complete and therefore ready to start earning a rental income,' said Paul.

The couple decided to visit Pipa before firming up a contract, a wise move, or so they thought. Pipa Hills experienced a price increase while Paul was busy booking his flights so had he felt able to commit to the property one month earlier he could have saved himself €7,500, a lesson learned in fast-moving emerging property markets.

Paul offers some tips; 'Remember you're buying in Brazil not Bradford. The emphasis is on keeping the house cool rather than soaking up the sun so consider east facing for the cooling sea breeze and check that there's good air-conditioning.'

Although initially not keen on a gated community, he decided it was the sensible option. 'If you're 5,000 miles away it's tricky to keep an eye out for nice Brazilians moving into your vacant property in your absence,' he remarked.

Paul is typical of the kind of person investing in property abroad today. He now has ambitions to create a property investment vehicle to secure more Brazilian real estate.