Portugal's Golden Visa scheme has driven a staggering €1.6 billion of investment in the country's real estate in the last four years. With foreign interest still strong, sales this year are expected to keep on climbing.
Chinese investors continue to pounce on the bargains available in Portugal’s property market.
A large part of Portugal’s appeal to the Chinese market is its Golden Visa scheme, which was launched in 2012, offering residency and its benefits to non-EU buyers spending over the required threshold. As of March 2016, 3,165 visas have been handed out (worth €1.73 billion of real estate investment), according to Portugal’s Real Estate Professionals and Brokers Association, with 80 per cent of them going to Chinese nationals.
While the scheme suffered from a corruption scandal in 2014, momentum has already built again. In March alone, a record 130 Golden Visas were approved for Chinese investors.
Tariq El-Asad, managing director of real estate consultancy firm Tamea International, tells the South China Morning Post that dozens of high-rollers flocked to the country to pounce on bargains during the three-day Labour Day holiday at the start of May.
“During the Chinese New Year and the Labour Day holiday we see a huge increase in Chinese clients… It’s the peak time,” said El-Asad. “We get Chinese clients throughout the year. Usually, they come in big groups with their families and friends during holiday seasons, and want to invest together.”
Investors typically target one-bedroom flats in Lisbon, which they can then rent out to tourists, while still benefitting from one or two weeks of personal usage each year – Golden Visa holders only have to reside in Portugal for seven days a year.
4th April 2016
Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme has driven a staggering €1.6 billion of investment in the country’s real estate in the last four years. Figures from the country’s authorities show that 2,997 residence permits have been granted in total for Golden Visas, attracting €1.821 billion in total, of which €1.645 billion was used to purchase real estate.
Chinese investors remain a key driver of activity, with 97 receiving a Golden Visa in February 2016, alongside 13 for buyers from Brazil, five to Russian investors and two to South African purchases. Two also went to buyers from Lebanon.
Indeed, since the outbreak of conflict in Syria and the Middle East, the number of Lebanese passport holders seeking a second passport and European citizenship has risen considerably.
The Portugal Golden Visa Program is now the most popular option for those Lebanese nationals seeking European Residency – the Portuguese passport is ranked 4th, one of the most powerful in the world.
Since 2015, Lebanon is the top-ranking nation in the Middle East for those applying for Portuguese Residency.
With international interest in the country’s property expanding, demand remains “solid”, according to the latest RICS/Ci property market survey.
New buyer enquiries picked up in February 2016, with demand increasing in each region over the month. Alongside this, agreed sales also rose at a modest pace in February. As such, the headline sales indicator has now returned to positive territory for two successive periods after signalling a slight contraction in December.
Going forward, agents continue to expect solid sales growth in the near term.
Meanwhile, the gentle recovery in house prices continued into a fifteenth straight report (following a period of relentlessly falling house prices between 2010 and 2014).
The pace of price growth has moderated compared to the end of 2016, but values are still expected to climb around 2 per cent nationally over the next 12 months, with Lisbon and the Algarve projected to post above-average growth of 2.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.
Over the next five years, contributors to the RICS/Ci survey are projecting headline prices to rise by just over 4 per cent per annum.
The national confidence indicator slipped to +22 from +32 in January, but the mood remains “comfortably positive”, with sentiment about the market’s outlook upbeat.
Indeed, agents are now turning to local buyers, as the mood in the country improves for domestic house-hunters as well as international investors.
Ricardo Guimarães, Director of Ci, comments: “For agents in the market, financial institutions are becoming more and more supportive. New credit loans are clearly increasing and this is opening the prospect of a recovery in housing demand from Portuguese families. Despite many brokers still focusing on international demand, the chance to reinforce the domestic market is critical to open new doors and keep the positive momentum.”
Read the original article on The Move Channel, by Ivan Radford.
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