Gold Rush: Portugal’s investment visa success

Portugal’s Golden Visa rush continues in 2017, with the scheme now on course to grant a record number of residence permits. New research by charts the scheme’s success since it began five years ago.

Official data shows that the number of approved investors has jumped 30 per cent in the last year. In the first four months of 2017, 801 permits have been issued, already higher than the number issued in the whole of 2015, when the scheme was temporarily suspended following a corruption scandal, and over half of the number issued in the whole of 2016. Should that pace continue for the rest of the year, 2017 will be a new record for the scheme.

Since the first were issued in October 2012, a total of 5,003 investors have been approved for Golden Visas. Chinese buyers have made up 67 per cent of all approvals to date, followed by investors from Brazil (8 per cent) and South Africa (3.6 per cent). Indeed, demand from South African buyers has notably increased in the last year, overtaking buyers from Russia (3.4 per cent).

The 2017 figures are a reminder of just how successful the scheme has been in its first five years. Indeed, the scheme has been a priority for the country, forming a major part of its housing market recovery. As of the end of April 2017, the program has generated over €3.08 billion in investment in Portugal, €2.7 billion of which has been invested in real esate.

That investment has helped to drive market activity, which has been improving steadily in recent years. A total of 127,106 transactions were registered in 2016, up 18.5 per cent from 2015, according to Portugal’s INE. In 2016, Portugal was the fourth most popular country on, up from fifth in 2015. Faro and Lisbon were the primary drivers of interest, with the Algarve making up 46 per cent of enquiries in the year to Q1 2017 and the capital accounting for 20 per cent.

Rising international demand has, in turn, helped to push up property prices. After years of decline in the wake of the global financial crisis, Portuguese real estate has seen property values rise for four years in a row. In Q4 2016, the country’s house price index rose 7.6 per cent year-on-year, up from 6.3 per cent in Q3 2016 and the highest price increase ever recorded.

With Portuguese property enquiries on up 56 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q1 2017, the country’s Golden Visa rush shows no sign of slowing down soon.