Portugal’s Golden visa presenting golden opportunities for foreign investors and the property market

Non-EU citizens wishing to move to Europe are increasingly discovering the benefits of applying for a so-called Golden Visa in Portugal, officially part of the country’s ARI Programme, which allows them to gain Portuguese residence so long as they invest in property or a company, or the creation of jobs.

Introduced towards the end of 2012, the Golden Visa programme entitles foreign investors, typically Chinese or Russian, to residency in Portugal on condition they acquire a property to the minimum value of €500,000, invest a minimum of €1,000,000 in shares in Portuguese companies, or create at least 10 jobs in the country. This is good news for local economies, as foreign investment in property or businesses encourages a number of knock-on commercial opportunities.

Another foreigner friendly rule in Portugal, which is encouraging non-EU residents to buy property and move to the country is the Non Habitual Resident’s Tax Regime.

Anglo-Portuguese law firm Neville de Rougemont has handled successful cases for both the Golden Visa and Non Habitual Resident’s Tax Regime. The firm recently helped a Chinese businesswomen make an investment of €1,000,000 via a Portuguese bank so that she could apply for the Golden Visa. After making the investment, the lady travelled to Portugal and while in Lisbon, fell in love with the old parts of the city and decided to acquire a €500,000-plus property in the Lapa area. The same lady is now considering starting a small tourism business in Portugal.

Meanwhile, Neville de Rougemont  has also helped a South African couple in their late 50s who have decided to live and work in Portugal after meeting Potuguese people during a holiday in Mozambique. This couple can take advantage of the Non Habitual Resident’s Tax Regime and have bought a small cottage in the Algarve as a their new home.

Who wouldn’t want a home in Portugal near one of these beaches?

Beaches and balmy weather are key to the Algarve’s popularity – even Prime Minister David Cameron had a family holiday there this summer – and when it comes to choosing a property near the sea in Portugal, there’s almost too much choice!

So a list of top 10 beaches in the Algarve, which featured recently in the Daily Express, could be handy for finding your ideal beach home in Portugal. First up is Praia de Rocha in Portimao, as impressive for its golden sand as it is for its towering cliff backdrop – it’s also an easy journey from Faro airport, making long weekends there all the more convenient.

If you’d like a local beach with plenty of space, a property near Meia Prais in Lagos could be the solution – at four kilometres, it’s the Algarve’s longest beach and a popular spot for windsurfing. Water sports enthusiasts would be equally satisfied with a pad at Praia de Figueira in Salema, where the village leads straight on to the beach and divers can explore a shipwreck just off-shore.

For seclusion, the beach at Praia de Marinha in Benagil, which is especially good for snorkelling, could be an option. Then close to the upmarket area of Vilamoura is Praia da Falésia, named after its red cliffs – somewhere to relax after a round or two on one of Vilamoura’s famous golf courses. Meanwhile, for homeowners in Faro city, Ilha de Faro beach on the Ancão Peninsula is popular, thanks to being the only beach in that area that has a roadway connection.

The family friendly resort of Albufeira scores highly for nearby Praia da Galé – a beach with excellent amenities – as well as the more central Praia dos Barcos beach, near the pretty old town.

Over in the eastern Algarve, Praia da Ilha de Tavira beach is a real gem and convenient for homeowners in the Tavira area, while Praia Verde in Castro Marim is an equally appealing white sandy beach.

Algarve resort serves up world-class tennis facilities with former UK No.1

Playing tennis in fantastic surroundings just got easier thanks to the award-winning Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve launching a new Annabel Croft Tennis academy, which will offer coaching and events designed by the former British No1 and Sports TV presenter.

The Annabel Croft Tennis Academy has agreed to operate a five-court tennis facility at Pine Cliffs, a resort with a nine-hole golf course and selection of freehold luxury apartments, townhouses and villas for sale. Based on the success of the Annabel Croft
Tennis Academy in London and Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus, the Academy provides high quality group and private coaching. The new facility offers five-day coaching tennis courses for adults and children, brand new tournaments and events, private and shared lessons, court hire and tennis related services.

Said Carlos Leal, General Manager of resort owner United Investments Portugal (UIP): “We are delighted to be working with the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy.

“We are always looking for new and interesting activities for all who visit Pine Cliffs and with a range new tournaments and events, coaching clinics and courses and private lessons, there is something for all ages. The academy has devised an exciting new programme for our members and guests to take advantage of.”

Annabel Croft commented: “We targeted Portugal as a tennis destination and after much research, felt the most suitable resort that would fulfil our objectives and long term strategy of partnering with luxury five-star resorts was the stunning Pine Cliffs Resort. I’m delighted that we have formed this new partnership today and look forward to working with the team.”

Meanwhile, at the start of September footballer Wayne Rooney headed to Quinta do Lago for a break with his family, after a head injury meant he was excluded from the England squad that headed to the Ukraine for their World Cup qualifier. The Rooneys stayed at the contemporary 5-star Conrad Hotel.

RICS index shows property market could be close to turning the corner

Price falls in the Portuguese property market were largely unchanged compared to the preceding months, suggesting that the rate that values are falling is slowing down compared to recent years.

This is according to the most recent index from the Portuguese division of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The RICS report for July 2013, produced in conjunction with Confidencial Imobiliário (CI) and covering the sales and lettings markets in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, also showed that the balance of agreed sales in Portugal is also stabilising.

More good news is that Portugal’s national confidence index – a composite measure based on price and sales expectations – reached its least negative value since September 2010. This more positive reading was in part the result of the price expectations balance, which this month recorded its least negative reading since the RICS survey began.

RICS Senior Economist, Josh Miller said: “The July survey results point to further very tentative signs of a trend towards stabilisation in the sales market, although the lettings market is running out of steam, with new landlord instructions now falling alongside rents.”

CI spokesman Ricardo Guimaraes added: “July was a period of high uncertainty, thanks to the instability of the Government coalition. After a relative improvement in sentiment during the past few months, agents are hoping the latest political setbacks won’t hit confidence in the market.”

Meanwhile, the July index also showed that lettings activity is weak and rents continue to fall with activity in the market stalling.

Monte da Quinta’s hotel a favourite with foreign tourists

Looking for a home in the Algarve that’s on or near a highly acclaimed resort with outstanding facilities? If so, somewhere around the Monte da Quinta Resort could be the answer, after the hotel there was recently named as one of the best four-star hotels in Portugal by leading global bookings site Bookings.com.

The Monte da Quinta Suites hotel was among a select group of Portuguese hotels rated as ‘superb’ by customer reviewers on the website, after receiving an average score of 9.2 out of 10 in 2012 for its facilities and service standards.

It’s not surprising the Monte da Quinta Resort is picking up awards – it’s located in the sought after Quinta do Lago area, near Faro in the Algarve. Property in the area is very desirable, thanks to the pretty beaches, world-glass golf courses and restaurants, and year-round balmy climate. Vale do Lobo, home to some of the most distinguished property in Portugal, is also a short drive away, not forgetting air access is excellent too, thanks to the proximity of Faro airport.

All suites at Monte de Quinta are air conditioned, have furnished balconies overlooking the gardens and come with wi-fi, an LCD TV and DVD player and fully equipped kitchens.

The hotel also boasts the Bamboo Restaurant, with the option to dine by the hotel’s main pool. Meanwhile, at the hotel’s Magnolia Spa, you can enjoy massages and body treatments or work out in the fully-equipped gym. For families, Monte da Quinta Suites also has a kids club, that organises activities and excursions for the little ones, leaving mum and dad to go for a round of golf!

Awards come thick and fast for the Algarve, voted best in Europe for golf and beaches

The Algarve proved it is still a firm favourite with international holidaymakers by scooping a host of awards at the European stage of the prestigious World Travel Awards, held in the Turkish resort of Antalya in the first week of September.

The Algarve was crowned Europe’s Leading Golf Destination as well as Europe’s Leading Beach Destination, while a number of Portuguese resorts picked up prizes too. Vila Joya won the award for Europe’s Leading Boutique Resort, The Vine Hotel won Europe’s Leading Design Hotel, Quinta do Lago won Europe’s Leading Golf Resort, Martinhal Beach Resort was winner of Europe’s Leading Villa Resort and Conrad Algarve was winner of the Leading Luxury Resort category. A further ten awards were made to Portuguese resorts on a national level.

Meanwhile, Lisbon picked up the title of Europe’s Leading City Break Destination and Portuguese Madeira was named Europe’s Leading Island Destination.

Portugal will wait to see how well it does in the International World Travel Awards, when it will go head to head with destinations across other continents. This event takes place on December 12 in New Delhi, India. Last year Portugal won three awards and has high hopes for the 2013 event, after doing so well in the European stage.

The World Travel Awards, regarded as the ‘Oscars of the Travel Industry’ celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is acknowledged across the globe as the ultimate travel accolade, celebrating those companies and organisations that are pushing the boundaries of industry excellence in product and service.