Demand for plots on premium Algarve resort points at stability in luxury end of Portuguese market

Luxury property in the Algarve has lost none of its appeal to British and other foreign investors, after one of the region’s leading resorts, Quinta do Lago, reported that it has now sold most of its latest development.

Quinta do Lago confirmed that 75 per cent of the 26 plots at its San Lorenzo North development, which range from 2,000-3,000 square metres, have been purchased, including to British and Irish buyers. Plots cost between €2.3million and €3.5million and come with lake, golf course and pine-wood views of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, as well as the opportunity to construct a luxury home within a sought after development.

Ground-breaking will take place on the first two plots this autumn. Meanwhile, the show villa is open, highlighting the desirability of property ownership at Quinta do Lago. As well as leisure and dining facilities, the resort offers property management and rental services, as well as security, concierge and landscaping.

Buyers at San Lorenzo North thus far have been from Britain, Ireland and Portugal and as sales consultant Jamie Robinson explains, interest has been consistent over recent months with purchasers attracted by the opportunity to invest at an early stage; “As we enter our busiest selling period, we have been very encouraged by continued buoyancy in the market which has resulted in the further sales of Phase 1. San Lorenzo North offers purchasers a rare opportunity to buy into one of Europe’s most cherished destinations with unrivalled infrastructure and exemplary facilities.”

An advisory firm for tourist resorts in Portugal said in October that 92 per cent of leading property agents in the Algarve have reported higher confidence levels during 2013. It also reported that in the luxury end of the market, detached villas represented 46 per cent of all sales and volumes were up by one per cent compared to the end of 2012.

Sales activity improving in Portugal and property market stabilising, says RICS

Portugal’s property market is undergoing a stabilisation in sales activity, according to the September figures of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) published in its recent Housing Market Survey.

In the Portuguese property sales market, the agreed transactions balance turned positive for the first time since the RICS reports began back in September 2010. Improvement was also seen within the new buyer enquiries series, moving further into positive territory. According to RICS, house prices in Portugal are still declining at present, with a marginally worse net balance than was the case in August. This is however the second best reading on record and, coupled with greater levels of activity, does suggest that prices may be close to reaching a floor.

In the lettings sector, tenant demand rose whilst new landlord instructions also experienced an increase, said RICS. The balance for letting volume expectations was consequently the highest seen in four months. Meanwhile, the net balance for rents remained negative, but to a lesser extent than any time in the previous seven months. Although rents are still anticipated to fall further in the near term, the pace has moderated over the last twelve months.

RICS Senior Economist Josh Miller said: “The September survey results provide further evidence that the sales market may be stabilising. However, the market remains fragile; the economic backdrop remains weak, and while the recent GDP data has been encouraging, it will need to be sustained before we are realistically in a position to talk about a housing recovery.”

New energy certificates to be required by property vendors in Portugal

As from 1st December 2013, all estate agencies or private individuals selling or renting out property will be required by law to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with the property details.

The certificate, called Sistema de Certificação Energética dos Edifícios (SCE) in Portugal and which lasts for 10 years, will indicate the property’s energy efficiency on a scale of A+ to G, as well as a list of recommendations to improve energy consumption. If owners make changes to their property, for example fit double glazing, they can have it reassessed to gain a better score. Obligatory EPCs were introduced in Spain on the 1st June 2013,

Certificates will be issued after assessment by a qualified engineer, who calculates the thermal efficiency of the building. In order to have a property assessed, the following document s will need to be produced: Land registration, Caderneta, Habitation Licence, Architect / Project Plans and Ficha Technica.

SCE certificates will be issued at a cost of €250, and vendors and agents caught selling without one could land themselves hefty fines from the authorities.

Energy Performance Certificates form part of an initiative being used to establish the efficiency of properties, in an effort to reduce unnecessary carbon emissions. This has come from the Kyoto Agreement, an international treaty, in which countries attempt to reduce their carbon footprint.

Estate agents vendors of property in Portugal should expect a transition period, while all parties get to grips with the formal procedures and finer details.

More flights into Portugal from London expected to help boost tourism in 2014

Good news for property-owners in Portugal who fly from London is the announcement this week that British Airways is launching
a service to Faro from Heathrow, as well as launching a new route to Porto in the north of Portugal.

BA already flies to Faro, the gateway to the Algarve, out of Gatwick and London City, but from 30th March it will offer a twice weekly service there from Heathrow. The airline’s Porto service will also be twice weekly and leaving from London Heathrow.

The Algarve’s tourism industry will be hoping the increased number of flights there will help it to repeat – and even surpass – the level of visitors it received this year. The Algarve Tourism Board’s recent bulletin revealed that, between April and June this year, “the behaviour of the main indicators was frankly positive, driven by a demand from foreign visitors that contradicted the slight drop in figures from national visitors. It added: “The results let us predict a good performance also for the ensuing months”. During
the second quarter of 2013 the total number of guests staying in the Algarve was just under 936,000, a year-on-year hike of 3.6 per cent.

The growth was fuelled by an increase in the number of foreign visitors, up by 5.56 per cent on last year, whereas the number of Portuguese people visiting the Algarve dropped by 1.34 per cent compared to 2012.

Britons made up the largest group of visitors to the Algarve in Q2 2013, overtaking the number of Portuguese visitors during that same period.

The Algarve’s superb golf courses in the spotlight as Brit wins Portugal Masters

Just how at ease Brits are playing golf in the Algarve was highlighted at the weekend when England’s David Lynn came from six shots behind to snatch victory at the 2013 Portugal Masters.

This win is Lynn’s second European Tour title and puts him back in the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50, a week before his 40th birthday. The former US PGA Championship runner-up, whose only previous win in almost 400 events came in the KLM Open in 2004, charged into contention with five birdies in a front nine of 30 and, after a bogey at the tenth, picked up four further shots to set a clubhouse target that was never matched.

The tournament was played at the Oceanico Victoria course, which covers some 90 hectares and is the most recent golf course project of Arnold Palmer in Portugal. As one of the best and most sophisticated golf courses in Europe, every care has been taken to ensure the preservation of the wetlands and the typical vegetation of carob, olive and almond trees.

Owner of the course, Oceanico Golf is now the major player in Portugal´s distinguished golf tourism market, owning and operating one of Europe´s biggest portfolios of courses. It offers seven championship courses in the Algarve, including Vilamoura´s famous five, which are: Victoria (host of the Portugal Masters since 2007), Old Course, Pinhal, Laguna, Millennium, the newer Faldo Course near Silves, and the O´Connor Jnr. course at Amendoeira Golf Resort, which is complemented by a unique floodlit 9 hole par 3 Academy course.

Interest from heavyweight foreign investors signals confidence returning to Portugal’s property market

A German property fund has committed to the biggest international institutional investment in Portugal since 2009, weeks after Saudi Arabia’s third richest person expressed his interest in buying a large share of the Algarve’s most prestigious resort. Together these two multi-million euro deals are a huge shot in the arm for the Portuguese property market.

Deka Immobilien from Germany is paying €43million for the Báltico building, an office block in Lisbon. High quality global journalism requires investment. According to the Financial Times, Matthias Danne, head of Deka’s real estate arm, said that the investor, which manages the largest open-ended property funds in Germany, was starting to dip a toe back into the waters of southern European property markets.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohamed bin Issa al Jaber from Saudi Arabia is said to be bidding for a stake in the highly desirable Val do Lobo golf and beach resort in the Algarve, a favourite with celebrities and the world’s jet set, buying through his tourist company JJW Hotels & Resorts Ltd. JJW Hotels & Resorts already owns half a dozen properties in the Algarve, including the five-start Le Meridien Penina hotel, and now is reportedly looking to take over the Portuguese state-owned bank Caixa Geral de Depositos’s 24 per cent stake in Val do Lobo.

Val do Lobo, which has two championship golf courses, sandy beaches and five-star facilities, is regarded as one of the most desirable places to own property in Portugal. It is reachable via flights to Faro, Lisbon and Seville in Spain.