Portuguese broker targets Thai investors

Portugal’s property market has enjoyed significant foreign investment in recent years, fuelled by the country’s Golden Visa scheme. Chinese investors have been a major driver of activity. 2,635 non-EU citizens obtained a residence permit between 2012 and 2015, while China currently accounts for 70 per cent of inward investment into the country.

Now, though, Portugal is looking to build on that success with investors from Thailand. Developer Imocompletissmo, which has 1,000 properties in Portugal and Spain, is teaming up with Century 21 to target wealthy Thai buyers.

“Many Chinese in the past two decades bought a property in the US or Canada to stay. In the past few years, they have bought a European property as an investment due to easy immigration and their children’s studies,” Somsak Chutisilp, chief executive of Century21, told the Bangkok Post.

He added that the company has introduced the scheme to around 40 investors in Chiang Mai last month, with an aim of €5 million (195 million baht) invested in Portuguese property by the end of the year.

“Our target destinations are key provinces and we expect to have at least 10 customers by year-end,” he said. “The Portuguese developer will use Thailand as an expansion base to Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam, where there are a lot of potential buyers.”

Why are French investors buying more Portuguese property than the Chinese?

2nd June 2016

French investors have bought more Portuguese property than the Chinese and the Brits in 2016. In the first quarter of the year, French nationals purchased more than both Brits and Chinese buyers, according to the Real Estate Association APEMIP.

Knight Frank also highlights a notable increase in French interest in the last two to three years.

What is behind the rising demand? The answer is Portugal’s Non-Habitual Tax Residency scheme, which means that foreigners who spend 183 days in the country every day are exempt from paying income tax on non-Portuguese incomes – including pensions.

Combined with more realistic pricing from agents and vendors, prime property prices in areas such as the Algarve are now rising for the first time in years, as the market recovers on the back of growing overseas demand.

UK, Irish and German buyers remain evident in the market, however, notes Knight Frank, while Scandinavian, South African and Chinese investors are also climbing in number, the latter drawn by the ongoing Golden Visa scheme.

Chinese investors continue to pounce on Portuguese property

9th May 2016
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.

Golden Visas drive €1.6bn into Portuguese real estate

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.”

Photo: Fuey