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Ups and downs of high end real estate

Christina Medici Scolaro

The most popular markets for wealthy people buying residential properties are London, Paris and Tokyo, according to Mike Ward, CEO of USForex, which helps such individuals transfer financial assets overseas and U.S. residents to buy high-end real estate abroad.

The three cities have a secure market and rising home prices, Ward said, with London becoming known as the "world's bank," especially regarding overflow cash from the BRIC nations.

Paris is a popular homebuying destination for the very wealthy because of its low interest rates and stable prices.

When considering property overseas, buyers must understand exchange rate movements and the accompanying volatility.

Ward suggests investigating the overall market—not just individual houses or buildings—and using a real estate agent and lawyer familiar with local regulations.

Foreign real estate destinations that saw prices plummet are Spain and Portugal, Ward said, with luxury property prices dropping as much as 50 percent.

--By Christina Medici Scolaro