Budget airline increases flights to Lisbon, signalling confidence in Portuguese market

Travel to Portugal is getting easier after a low-cost carrier this month launched a new route there from Stansted and announced the introduction of another new service there from Ireland in 2014 – both of which will be welcomed by owners of property in Portugal.

Ryanair’s first flight to Lisbon from Stansted took off on 26th November, the same day it began flights to Dortmund in Germany from Stansted. The budget airline marked the launch by releasing 100,000 seats at prices starting from £15.99 on more than 1,000 routes across its European network, for travel on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in January and February, for bookings made before midnight on Thursday, 28th November.

Ryanair’s Lisa Cashin said: “Ryanair is delighted to celebrate two inaugural flights today from London Stansted to Dortmund and Lisbon. These brand new routes will mean more flexibility for passengers in Greater London and East of England when traveling to Germany and Portugal this winter. Ryanair will operate daily flights to Dortmund and twice daily flights to Lisbon and with flights starting from £15.99 we urge passengers to book a seat today on Ryanair.com.”

Meanwhile, Ryanair announced this month that it will commence daily flights between Lisbon and Dublin on 1st April 2014. This will be the fifth route that the airline operates at Lisbon’s Portela Airport, after starting operations there in September this year. It also flies from Lisbon to Brussels, Frankfurt, Stansted and Paris.

According to Luis Fernández-Mellado, Ryanair’s marketing and sales manager for Portugal, the new Lisbon-Dublin flight is an indication that “without doubt Ryanair is continuing to show interest in growing in Portugal.”

The Algarve scores a birdie after being voted European Golf Destination of 2014

Portugal has rubber-stamped its position as a leading golf destination by being awarded the prize for Europe’s Best Golf Destination 2014 at the IAGTO Awards held in mid-November.

The IAGTO Awards sponsored by Etihad Airways are the official annual awards for the golf tourism industry. The 14th gala Awards evening took place on Thursday 14th November 2013 in front of 1,200 golf industry professionals at the spectacular Tarragona Placa De Toros (Bull Ring), Tarragona, Costa Daurada, Spain at the end of the 2013 International Golf Travel Market. World-renowned golfer and 2011 Open Champion, Ernie Els, became IAGTO’s 14th Honorary Award recipient. The accolade will be a shot in the arm for golf homes in the Algarve.

IAGTO’s Chief Executive, Peter Walton, said: “The annual golf holiday is the highlight of the golfing year for many of the world’s 55 million players, and the IAGTO Awards serve to reward a few exceptional contributions to this world of golf travel. There is certainly no shortage of candidates worthy of recognition. Many individuals, companies, organisations and destinations have excelled in delivering a great golfing experience to the golf traveller – the ultimate goal for all involved in golf tourism.”

Desidério Silva, President, Algarve Tourism Association, commented: “Golf tourism is of the most importance to the Algarve, with nearly one million rounds played per year. Such demand requires a wide variety of both golf courses and facilities, which the Algarve is proud to offer. With a choice of 40 golf courses, the Algarve is the perfect place for players to indulge their passion. Year after year, the organisational capabilities and the professionalism from the local golf industry have enabled us to respond to the trust placed in us by the international golf tour operators, who have greatly honoured us by selecting the Algarve as Europe’s number one golf destination.”

Shoots of recovery appear, as Portuguese commercial market shows year-on-year growth

The Portuguese property market is showing signs of recovery after commercial-property investment more than tripled in the first half of the year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Spending on commercial real estate rose to €161millioin (£136.2million) in the six months through June from about €47milion (£39.8million) a year earlier, while investment in residential property has increased by 60 per cent to €230million (£194.6million, according to the international property consultancy.

The property market is strengthening on the back of a more stable economy in Portugal, which expanded 1.1 per cent in the second quarter from the previous three months, the first increase since 2010. Despite the real-estate slow down, Portugal remains highly attractive to tourists and retires alike with its castles, wines, ancient ruins, and cobblestoned streets. It prides itself on having a quieter, more civilized pace of life than its neighbour, Spain.

As a retirement hot spot Portugal ticks all the right boxes. It is warm and sunny in the summer and has at least a temperate climate all year round, the cost of living is relatively affordable, the standard of living is excellent, the countryside and the coastline are beautiful and then there are the golf courses that the Algarve is famous for.

Typical of what is available to investors there now are opportunities to buy into new apart-hotels near some of the best beaches in Europe and tourist amenities. Prices can be as low as €60,000 for one-beds – around half what was being asked for them at the peak of the market in 2007. Repossessed units sold by banks are typically available with 100 per cent finance, so investors might only need to put down just £5,000, to cover all the closing costs.

Portugal’s population of mega wealthy on the rise – adding to the Algarve’s exclusivity

Portugal is becoming increasingly attractive to the world’s super rich, according to the recently published ‘Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report 2013’, which ranks the country 12th in Europe in terms of resident ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals.

The Wealth-X report also shows that Portugal’s UHNW population – people with net assets of at least $30million – increased by 85 between 2012 and 2013, to 870 from 785. UHNW individuals in Portugal are now worth around $100billion in total, compared to $90billion a year ago. Germany ranks number one of the list, followed by the UK and Switzerland in third.

This is good news for the exclusive areas of Portugal’s Algarve, in particular the upmarket golf resorts of Vale do Lobo and Quinta da Lago, two of the most desirable place to own property in Portugal. Detached villas in prime spots in these resorts, with views over the fairway and ocean, typically start at €2-3million, reaching in excess of €10million. It is usual for wealthy international buyers to own property in Algarve hot spots through a company, thereby avoiding the hefty taxes that expensive property attracts when selling or passing on.

The world’s ultra wealthy population grew by more than six per cent between 2012 and 2013, reaching an all-time high of 199,235, with a combined fortune of nearly US$28 trillion. The Report identified more than 2,000 billionaires globally, who combined are worth $6.5trillion, equal to 23 per cent of the world’s UHNW total wealth. Year-on-year growth occurred mainly in North America and Europe, with the two regions responsible for a net gain of nearly 10,000 UHNW individuals and a total increase in wealth of $1.5trillion.

BBC ‘Dragon’ Duncan Bannatyne property-hunting in the Algarve

Scottish entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, one of the Dragons on the BBC show ‘Dragon’s Den’ is looking for a home in the Algarve, according to sources close to PortugalPropertySale.co.uk.

Bannatyne has been viewing luxury homes in the Vale do Lobo resort in the central Algarve, a hot spot with the international  jet set, thanks to its unspoilt beaches, world-class golf courses and balmy climate. Homeowners in the neighbouring resort of Quinta do Lago include English footballers Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen, while TV presenters Phillip Schofield and Judith Chalmers also have homes in the area.

Bannatyne used to own a villa in Mougins, a desirable village on the outskirts of Cannes on the French Riviera, until selling it last year on account of his divorce.

Typical of property that might suit Bannatyne are luxury villas around the famous Vale do Lobo golf course, which typically sell for around €3million and more. Properties there include large private pools and terraces offering sea and fairway views. Villas there rent for around €3,500 to €7,000 a week during peak season.

Bannatyne has recently published the second volume of his memoirs called ‘Riding the Storm’, the follow-up to his bestselling ‘Anyone Can Do It’. The BBC describe it as “an inspirational account of how Duncan survived personal and professional setbacks, including the break-up of his second marriage and the recession”.

Fall in ECB interest rate should benefit borrowers, as Portuguese banks report improving conditions

Mortgages in Portugal could get even cheaper thanks to the European Central Bank (ECB) cutting its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.25 per cent from 0.5 per cent on 7th November.

ECB president Mario Draghi said the decision to cut rates reflected an outlook of low inflation and economic weakness across the Eurozone. Inflation in the Eurozone fell to 0.7 per cent in October – its lowest level since January 2010, raising concerns of deflation in some countries.

Meanwhile, latest statistics from the Bank of Portugal show that over the past three months the demand for housing loans has remained virtually unchanged. The main factors responsible for slightly reducing demand were consumer spending unrelated to house purchases by individuals and household savings. Credit demand for consumer credit and other purposes remained virtually unchanged.

For the next three months banks expect the demand for home loans and for consumption and for other purposes to remain broadly unchanged.

During the last quarter, banks reported that in general they have not changed the criteria for the approval of loans to households and for the next quarter, they anticipate the criteria for approval of loans to remain unchanged.

At the end of October, Governor of the Bank of Portugal Carlos de Silva Costa said at a speech in London that Portugal’s banks are in better shape today than they were when they were shut out of capital markets in 2010. Mr Costa added that Portugal’s banks have ample liquidity and finance their activities with more capital and deposits, and less debt, than they did in the past.

According to Mr Costa, banks still face a tough road ahead and their main challenge is rebuilding their profitability after suffering losses from bad loans.