SOUTH Africa’s global travellers are turning to Portugal, the latest tourism hotspot, as a property investment.
Portugal’s recently announced golden visa programme gives South Africans and those from other countries the chance to qualify for European Union citizenship by buying property in Portugal.
Chris Immelman, MD of Pam Golding Properties international and projects division, says the news has been well received by the South African market. “After roadshows across South Africa, we’ve received 130 serious enquiries from those wishing to purchase property in Portugal,” he says. “Our first sales are already under way and several buyers will be visiting Portugal in the next few weeks to view properties. Purchasers are naturally affluent people due to the entry-level price and mostly families. Most buyers are from Gauteng.”
“Most interest is in the Lisbon, Cascais and Estoril areas. We have accordingly secured opportunities in downtown Lisbon, with its mature rental market offering solid long- term rentals. Cascais and Estoril, with their spectacular town squares and magnificent beaches, offer all the benefits of leisure living, but are actually primary residential areas. Most residents work in Lisbon, a mere 20-minute commute away. As a result these areas also have a strong rental market,” he says.
Portugal, with its beautiful beaches, appealing architecture and excellent cuisine, is a global tourism hotspot, so much so, that it was again recognised at the prestigious World Travel Awards for Europe, winning nine awards in 2013, while CNN believes Lisbon could be “Europe’s coolest city”.
“Through an entry-level property purchase ofß500000 (R7.3-million), the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme offers South Africans the freedom of obtaining Portuguese residency – which under current legislation ultimately qualifies one for a Portuguese passport, and therefore unrestricted access to move within the Schengen zone,” says Immelman.
The Schengen zone currently comprises Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Finland, Greece, Estonia, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Portugal, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Slovakia.
Pam Golding Properties visited Portugal this year to investigate opportunities for South African investors. “We secured partnerships with like-minded professionals, engaging with real-estate companies, lawyers and company administrators in the Algarve as well as in the greater Lisbon area,” says Immelman. “As a result we are able to offer a one-stop shop to purchase a suitable property as well as to handle the administrative process to secure permanent residency.
“We have formed a partnership with the Sable Group, which is managing the financial, immigration and legal needs of our buyers in Portugal. The entire administrative process is taken care of, from the moment they are met at the airport and taken to visit suitable properties, to completing documentation at the home-affairs department.
“The response from high- net-worth investors has been positive, with a key benefit being the ability to move freely in European countries without having to apply for a visa.
“Importantly,” says Immelman, “buyers don’t need to hold onto the property indefinitely – it can be sold after six years. The key feature of the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme is that having bought a property for at least ß500000 (R7,3-million), residency is obtained – initially for one year and then renewable every two years. After five years one qualifies for permanent residency and after six you’re eligible to apply for citizenship and an EU passport, subject to certain criteria.