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The golden visa programme in Portugal has now attracted over €1 billion in investment from real estate buyers seeking the flexible investor visa that is on offer. A total of 1,649 investor visas have been issued so far in Portugal with numbers climbing quickly. To date in 2014 investor visa permits issued to foreign nationals are already double those issued in 2013. Most buyers are buying at otr around the €500,000 investment limit and choosing to rent the property. The visa programme does not require holders to spend time in the country. In fact just two weeks every two years to secure renewal. In return investors are free to come and go as they please into Europe without having to continually renew their Schengen visa for EU entry.
The latest RICS Portuguese housing market survey shows positive news. Developers are seeing rising prices in Lisbon. This is perhaps helped by the influx of international buyers in the capital chasing property above €500,000 in order to obtain the golden visa.
New buyer enquiries increased for the 11th consecutive month. It follows recent news from Deloitte in its Property Index Report that revealed Portugal to be one of the most affordable residential markets in Europe along with Germany and Denmark as the top three top destinations.
Despite the positive news prices of property in Portugal remain well below their peak leading to a potential opportunity for today’s international investor seeking the residency visa.
Investors considering the Portuguese Golden Visa scheme will be encouraged by the recent recovery in property prices following 6 years of decline. Prices of real estate fell more than 25% since the credit crisis in 2007 however figures from the last year show a turn in prices and sentiment in the market no doubt assisted by the level of international investment chasing the golden visa benefits. Real estate prices rose by 0.9% in Q2 of 2013, followed by a rise of 0.4% in Q3 and 1.4% in Q4.
Prices for residential real estate in Lisbon are lower than most major European cities. Figures presented at Portugal’s 10th Property Conference held at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London last week showed Lisbon to be one of the most affordable cities for property investment. With an average price of €2600 per m2 Lisbon was lower than Barcelona (€4700 per m2) and Madrid (€5200 per m2). London toped the list with an average price of €21,800 per m2 more than 8 times that of Portugal’s capital city. There were 3500 foreign buyers of property in Portugal during the first quarter, many of them encouraged by the residency visas now on offer for purchases above €500,000.
The Portuguese economy is recovering and there are clear signs of an upturn according to the Secretary of State for Toursim, Adolfo Mesquita Nunes speaking at a conference attended by La Vida Portugal this week. Unemployment is down 1.4 percentage points from Quarter 1 to Quarter 4, 2013. Construction is up in the four main sectors including construction. Ten year bond rates have fallen from a peak of 7.47% to 3.71% and are now just 0.2% higher than those of Germany. Portugal is set to exit from the EU bailout programme in the coming months. Adolfo Nunes talked about the success of the government’s policies for encouraging inward investment including the golden visa programme and the new tax regime for non-habitual residents. To date 781 golden visas have been issued by Portugal, 2 in 2012, 490 in 2013 and 289 already in the first few months of 2014. The investor visa programme appears to be running at a rate of 1000 visas per year and climbing.
The Portuguese government has now issued over 700 golden visas since the scheme began in 2012 and numbers are accelerating. The deputy Prime Minister Paulo Porta is projecting over €500 million in investment in 2014 through the residency programme so we expect that will typically be up to 1000 golden visas in the next year. Portugal is not a huge country, just 10 million population, and property above €500,000 is very much at the higher end in a country where average prices are a lot lower. Hence 1000 people chasing a limited supply of properties over €500,000 in the coming year can only have one effect on the market and that is to push up prices.
We are already seeing this effect in Lisbon in particular where developers are giving minimal discounts due to the number of international investors now chasing new properties for the Portugal golden visa. It looks like a very good time to buy as prices are around 22.5% below their peak reached in 2007 and prices appear to have stabilised. The first three quarters of 2013 show flat prices after 6 years of decline and economic growth has returned to Portugal in the last half of 2013 with GDP rising 1.7% pa in the last quarter of 2014. We await data on house prices for Q4 2013 and Q1 2014 but expect these to be positive for the property market.
La Vida Portugal featured in an article in the South China Morning Post yesterday (China’s largest English daily newspaper). The article discussed the number of golden residency visas issued by Portugal in the last year – 542 and how it is expected to grow from this level. According to Colliers in a research note the number of properties sold in Portugal has increased 70% fuelled by the attraction of the golden visa programme. You can read the full article here.
In addition to resort property on the Algarve and silver coast we also have a large selection of property in the city of Lisbon and just outside the city in Cascais. The Portugal investor visa programme has been fuelling interest in property over €500,000 in Lisbon. Prices are rising and choice is reducing. €15 million was invested in Portugal in one week last month under the golden visa programme. There is a lot of interest from China, India, Russia and the Middle East. Lisbon is a popular choice with an international airport just 10 minutes from the centre of the city offering excellent links to the rest of Europe and worldwide. Please contact us for further details and a brochure.
Many of our clients look to buy property for the golden visa in either Spain or Portugal with the sole intention of renting the property out. Foremost in most investors minds is the kind of return they can make and the ease to which the property can be rented on their behalf. Spain is difficult in terms of guaranteed rentals, you need to appoint a managing agent to find clients and manage the rental without any assurance of rate or occupation.
However we have found in Portugal a guaranteed rental product that is available on Portugal’s most prestigous golf resort. Located right on the beach investments on this resort range from €600,000 – €1,300,000. All offer a rental return of 4% per annum for 5 years. Importantly the prestige of this long established resort will underpin the rental for many years after that. The property and rental is managed entirely by the resort. Owners can use the property for 8 weeks a year. Ideal for two weeks vacation in order to maintain the golden visa.
After the first year the investor visa in Portugal can be renewed every two years provided the property investment is retained. After 6 years the owner can apply for citizenship.
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