Gold Rush: Portugal’s investment visa success

The rush for Portugal’s Golden Visas accelerated with renewed urgency last year. New research by charts the scheme’s success since it began five years ago.

Official data shows that the number of approved investors doubled in 2016, led by rising Chinese demand. The 2016 figures are a reminder of just how successful the scheme has been in its first five years. Since the first were issued in October 2012, a total of 4,202 investors have been approved for Golden Visas. Chinese buyers have made up 83 per cent of all approvals to date, followed by investors from Brazil (7 per cent) and Russia (4 per cent). They all returned in greater numbers in 2016, after a slower 2015, when the scheme was temporarily suspended following a corruption scandal.

Indeed, the scheme has been a priority for the country, forming a major part of its housing market recovery. As of the end of 2016, the program has generated over €2.3 billion investment in Portuguese real estate.

That investment has helped to drive market activity, which has been improving steadily in recent years. A total of 31,535 transactions were registered in Q3 2016, according to Portugal’s INE, up 15.8 per cent from the same period of the previous year. 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 half of enquiries in 2016 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 48 per cent month-on-month in January 2017, the country’s Golden Visa rush shows no sign of slowing down soon.