Hong Kong tensions spark great interest in Portuguese Golden Visas

Mon 19 Aug 2019

An increasing number of people in Hong Kong are looking for information on buying property in Portugal to obtain Portuguese Golden Visas.

Portuguese Golden Visas are seen as the fastest way to get a residence permit in Europe.

At a time of growing political tensions in the city, many investors are looking at the Portuguese real estate market as a possible escape.

Portuguese Golden Visas have relatively low requirements when compared to other popular destinations that offer residency programmes of this kind.

"We have seen more inquiries about property in Portugal from buyers in Hong Kong in recent months. Many see Portuguese residence as an alternative in Europe," says List Sotheby's luxury real estate operations director, Binoche Chan, in an interview with the South China Morning Post, quoted by Lusa.

According to the expert, the requirements to obtain residence in Portugal "are relatively easy to comply with, compared to other European offers of this type”.

A view shared by David Lesperance, managing partner of Lesperance & Associates, specialising in residence visa applications, for whom “Portugal is, together with Greece, the easiest and cheapest way to obtain permanent residence in Europe”.

He added - “In 2019, more citizenship inquiries are coming from Hong Kong than any other Asian territory, including mainland China. In Hong Kong, most high net worth individuals are only now deciding they need a backup plan and an overseas residency, in case they need to leave the city in a hurry.”

According to property portal Juwai, Hongkongers and mainland Chinese invested US$300.2 million into Portugal through its Golden Visa programme in 2018. Nine out of 10 of those dollars went into real estate. Since the programme’s inception, Chinese nationals have taken 60 per cent of all visas issued. Chinese have invested an estimated US$2.8 billion through the Portuguese Golden Visa programme,” said Georg Chmiel, executive chairman at Juwai.

In April to June, Chinese and Hong Kong demand for Portuguese property jumped 40.4 per cent from a year ago, the highest number of inquiries for any quarter since 2016.

Portugal is not a top 10 country for Chinese buyers, but for those seeking a Golden Visa, it is among the top three,” Chmiel said. Chan also noted that Lisbon was ranked by accounting firm PwC as the best city in real estate investment and development prospects among major European cities this year.

Lisbon's property prices were up by about 8 per cent in 2018, and rental yields ranged from 5.5 per cent to 6 per cent.

Henley & Partners, a consultant specialising in residence and citizenship issues, also saw a "dramatic spike" in recent surveys for the Portuguese Golden Visa coming from Hong Kong, up 260% in June from a year earlier - the number of inquiries in July more than doubled from June.

Portugal has proven to be an extremely attractive option, its relatively low cost of living, beautiful and varied landscape, Mediterranean climate, rich history and culture, and very high standard of safety and security have all been strong drawcards,” said Paddy Blewer, Henley & Partners group director of public relations.

Since its unveiling in 2012, Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme has attracted 7,500 applicants, contributing 4.6 billion euros (US$5.2 billion) in investment, according to List Sotheby’s International Realty, Hong Kong.

The Portuguese golden visa programme grants successful applications the right to live, work and study in Portugal, along with visa-free travel within the 26 countries under the Schengen area of Europe, and eventually a legal residence. An individual is eligible for a golden visa if, among other options, they acquire at least a 350,000 euros worth of property.

The sudden interest and rising requests for information coincide with the political tension that has been going on for several months in Hong Kong, in what is the most serious political crisis since the transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China in 1997.

The current climate of instability, triggered by a proposal to amend the extradition law, has taken thousands of citizens to the streets in protest.

Read the full article here and another article on the subject, in Portuguese, here.

Read more about the Golden Visa here.

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