Portugal’s ‘golden visa’ proving a success

Portugal’s golden visa scheme is helping to attract increased levels of investment from overseas buyers. According to Deputy Prime Minister, Paulo Portas, more than €150 million has been brought in through the scheme so far, with much more expected to follow.  And a Portuguese estate agency has already been reporting an 80 per cent increase in sales compared with last year.

The golden visa scheme, which was implemented in January this year, allows non-EU citizens of good standing to obtain a five year residency permit in Portugal by purchasing a property of more than €500,000. This allows unrestricted travel within the Schengen Zone and after the firth year, the applicant is able to apply for a full Portuguese passport. So far, China, Angola and Russia have been the main sources of the investment.

This is good news for a country that, for a long time, has been stuck with the label of one of Europe’s so-called PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain). However, the country has come out of recession and there’s a feeling that property prices have bottomed out at last. The July index from the Portuguese division of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), produced in conjunction with the Confidencial Imobiliário (CI), showed that the rate of price falls for property in Portugal has stabilised and that the balance of agreed sales in Portugal is also stabilising. RICS has also reported that Portugal’s national confidence index, based on price and sales expectations, recently reached its least negative value since September 2010.  

There is still limited activity in residential transactions from domestic buyers, as there is no liquidity in the system and the banks are still restructuring themselves, but there is a good amount of building stock which needs to be offloaded. And there are many current owners who are keen to sell, so buyers are in a strong position when it comes to negotiation.

Tourism in Portugal is strong too, particularly in the Algarve and increasingly along the likes of the Silver Coast, so property rental opportunities are good. According to Portugal’s Economy Minster António Pires de Lima, the country experienced the highest intake ever of tourist-generated revenue in July this year, as well as the largest accumulated amount of revenue for the first seven months of the year.

This injection of confidence appears to be rubbing off on British buyers. Conti has seen an increasing number of people enquiring about the country over the last two months, and it’s currently fourth on our list of hot spots, after France and Spain and Turkey.

When it comes to mortgages, you can borrow up to 80 per cent of the value of the property, and rates are very reasonable, starting from 5.64 per cent for variable deal.  Fixed rates are available, but are not so competitive.

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