Areas and Places

Lisbon beckons South African investors seeking a solid property investment – and EU residency

Lisbon is increasingly popular among South African and international property investors.

With its ocean sunsets, captivating cafe culture, vintage trams and rich historic treasures, cosmopolitan Lisbon – the capital city of Portugal, seems to be weaving its spell over South African property buyers, according to Chris Immelman, MD of Pam Golding Properties International and Projects Division.

“At a recent series of road-shows in major centres around the country, it was evident that the demand for residential property in the thriving city of Lisbon is rapidly gaining momentum – not only for the purpose of obtaining a Golden Visa and ultimately European Union residency, but also for the underlying investment value, which is very appealing in its own right.”

“Apart from which the romantic architecture of a bygone era, proximity to beautiful sandy beaches, vibrant nightlife and mild climate – even during winter when temperatures rarely go below 10 degrees Celsius, offers an endless range of attractions for the visitor or tourist.”

Having already sold some 50 properties in Portugal, with a further 20-odd transactions in various stages of completion, all to South African buyers, Pam Golding Properties has just received approximately 50 serious enquiries and concluded about 10 sales during the recent launch of a range of prime located redevelopments in Lisbon and Estoril.

“Most of these are from Johannesburg and Cape Town, with the balance from KwaZulu-Natal. We find that once potential buyers grasp that Lisbon in particular is on the cusp of some very interesting opportunities – with large scale gentrification and regeneration taking place and with the added benefit of a Golden Visa, it becomes a very exciting investment opportunity. Some are saying Lisbon is where Barcelona was 20 years ago, and we see a very good upside over the next few years.”

Immelman says to qualify for the Golden Visa Programme you need to spend at least €500 000. Portuguese residency is virtually immediate with all the advantages of a Schengen Visa for five years, after which you can apply for permanent residency. “While this is the threshold entry level for a Golden Visa, several buyers have opted to acquire two units for €250 000 each as rental yields are more favourable in the lower price category.

“Notably, when compared to other major European cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Vienna, Lisbon prices are cheap, while Paris and London are off the charts when compared to Lisbon. Having said that, over the past 14 months since we have been trading in Lisbon property, the increase in prices is noticeable and a trend we see continuing for some time.”

“I am so bullish about this market that I believe it to be one of the most promising investment opportunities we currently have available, even without taking the Golden Visa aspect into consideration. A case in point, in Lisbon’s upmarket suburb of Estoril, is the Grand Estoril development, which is a conversion of a very famous and grand old hotel, where Ian Flemming penned many of the James Bond books.”

“The developers we are partnering with on these projects are already selling successfully to savvy investors from the likes of Portugal, France, Scandinavia and Brazil. For the South African market, the fact that EU residency is obtainable from a baseline of €500 000 makes the offering extremely appealing. This motivation for purchase makes it essential that we find them properties that stack up as good investment opportunities.

“The latest development we are marketing is an apartment hotel – Lumiares luxury hotel apartments – where you buy a small apartment which is then rented out by the developers as short term accommodation, which in Lisbon is in short supply and high demand. As the owner you are entitled to six weeks usage per year and enjoy a guaranteed rental of four percent per annum for the first three years.”

Situated in Bairro Alto in the heart of Lisbon’s historical area, this five-star residential and tourist development is to take shape behind the existing facade of the historical Palácio dos Condes do Lumiares which was built in the 16th century. The apartment hotel is being rebuilt to offer 53 luxury apartments priced from €260 000 to €1.1 million.

Says Immelman: “This is a prime destination that will provide accommodation close to the centre of the city with five-star quality and service plus the added appeal of the charm and comfort of a beautifully refurbished former family palace.” Construction work has already commenced, with a build programme of about 20 months, completion scheduled for December 2016/January 2017 and opening scheduled for the first quarter of 2017″.

The mainly one and two bedroom apartments range in size from 33-132sqm, all sold fully furnished and finished to a high level of luxury specification and with at least one dedicated parking place and private storage underground. On the fifth floor of the building will be a roof-top bar restaurant with panoramic views over Lisbon and the Tagus River, while a spa and gym wellness centre will be located on the ground floor, adjacent to a lobby and reception area which will be open 24 hours a day. There will also be two exclusive shops at ground level, incorporating luxury retail brands.

With the most spectacular views over the city in one of the most picturesque and lively neighbourhoods of Lisbon, The Lumiares is just five minutes’ walk to the trendy area of Chiado, with its many diverse spots of historic interest. The development is located at the top of the most famous funicular in Lisbon, the Elevador da Glόria that connects Bairro Alto to the commercial and retail centre of Lisbon.

Adds Immelman: “Portugal has an improving economy that is now out of recession and growing, with the business and investment hub of Lisbon seen as the main driver. The regeneration of Lisbon and especially its historic buildings and family palaces is a government imperative.”

“The real estate market, which is buoyant in prime areas of Lisbon, is seeing prices being driven upwards by a shortage of good quality properties available for investment and growing interest from international investors. The recovery of the Portuguese economy, a weakening Euro and rapidly improving real estate market makes the timing right for an investment in the Lisbon property market, with excellent prospects for capital appreciation.”