Freedom of travel through Europe has become that much easier for South African investors, through Portugal’s recently introduced Golden Visa Programme which provides unrestricted access to move within the 26 European countries in the Schengen zone.
However, says Chris Immelman, MD of Pam Golding Properties (PGP) International and Projects Division, a key aspect of this programme is that it allows overseas investors from non-European Union countries to obtain a fully valid residency permit in Portugal and ultimately, European Citizenship and a European passport for them and their families.
To qualify, the investment can be in the form of an acquisition in real estate with a minimum value of €500 000, capital investment of at least €1 million in a Portuguese company, or by establishing a Portuguese company that employs more than 10 people.
Says Immelman: “With technological innovations and efficient transportation, the globe and its wide array of attractions is increasingly evident and accessible to all. For many of our South African offshore buyers of property in Portugal, acquiring citizenship for their children is an overriding factor as it provides them with access, when they are older, to broaden their horizons with a wide range of international career opportunities. Today’s younger generation sees the world more along the lines of a global village, with exciting and unlimited potential coupled with the urge to explore, experience and learn across a much broader arena.
“As a result we are finding that the majority of enquiries we receive at present are from those with families, who want their children to benefit in years to come from enjoying access to global employment opportunities. During the past four to five months some 30 South Africans have already taken up this opportunity, mostly in the €500 000 to €600 000 price range. We are currently following up on numerous enquiries from potential buyers and due to the high interest in investing in such property, are also holding a further series of presentations in Johannesburg (4, 5 and 6 August , 2014 at the PGP offices in Melrose Arch) and Cape Town (7 and 8 August at the PGP head office in Bishopscourt).
“Pam Golding Properties (PGP), together with our partners, the South African-based Sable Group, who specialise in nationality and financial issues, will be offering interested investors the opportunity to enquire firsthand about the process of acquiring handpicked property in Portugal, as well as the administrative process required to secure permanent residency in Portugal. In addition, our legal advisors from Portugal, Neville de Rougemont Attorneys, will be specially flying to South Africa to participate in these presentations and provide information and advice to purchasers.
Immelman says the selection of these properties is critical as PGP has selected predominantly primary residential areas with strong rental markets, such as those in Lisbon, Cascais and Estoril. “These properties are typically in mature areas of high demand among local residents who work in the cities or in business nodes, and comprise mainly apartments where a two to three year lease can easily be secured with potential returns of between two and three percent per annum.
“The process is relatively simple, and as soon as the sales transaction is concluded the acquisition of Schengen rights can be achieved in a few months. Residency is then obtained, initially for one year and then renewable every two years. After a period of just five years you qualify for permanent residency and after six years become eligible to apply for citizenship and a European Union passport, subject to certain criteria being met. A benefit of the Golden Visa Programme is that it affords the flexibility to reside outside Portugal even after the residence permit is granted, so an investor can have Portuguese residence if he or she spends a minimum of seven days in the first year of residence in Portugal and 14 days in each of the following two year periods. Applicants can also apply for a family reunion visa in order that family members are granted a Portuguese Permit, which will allow them to work freely in the European Union’s Schengen states.”
Adds Immelman: “Our focus is on providing buyers with an attractive proposition with the right investment credentials – correctly priced upfront, able to generate some rental return and situated in an area with a proven track record so it can be sold in six or seven years once the requisite process for citizenship has been completed.”
Rich in history and with its beautiful beaches and cosmopolitan café culture, Portugal is on the rise as a global tourism destination. The scenic coastline from Lisbon to Estoril and Cascais has for generations been referred to as ‘The Riviera of Portugal’. Renowned for its temperate year round climate, spectacular beaches and enviable lifestyle, Estoril is home to the largest casino in Europe, surrounded by 10 golf courses and provides a host of entertainment and leisure activities. Furthermore Estoril and Cascais are only 15 minutes from Lisbon International Airport. The capital city of Lisbon is one of the oldest in the world, enjoying one of the warmest winters in Europe.