Abbey National says the number of French and Italian homes bought by Britons has soared by 75 per cent over the last year.
Homes on the continent tend to be cheaper than in the UK but buyers typically pay between 10 and 15 per cent of the price of a property in transaction fees and taxes.
Homes in Italy tend to be more expensive than in France because, unlike the French, Italians like to buy rural second homes which pushes prices up.
Abbey has published the Easy Guide to Buying Property Abroad, which is available free of charge by contacting the bank on freephone: 0800 449090.
Director of European operations David Dunsmore, says: “Buyers are snapping up homes often at a fraction of what they would pay in Britain for similar properties and the good news is there are still plenty of bargains to be had.”