Portugal Tops the List for Best Golf Holiday Experiences

According to golfholidays.com, who are one of the leading golf travel firms on the Internet, Portugal tops the list of places in which to enjoy the best golfing holiday experience, beating France into second place.

Apparently it achieves this accolade thanks to the excellent value and easy access offered, as well as the enormous choices of outstanding courses and accomodations. This probably won’t come as a surprise to many people, as golfing holidays in Portugal are often considered to be something of a tradition.

The Algarve is synonymous with great golf courses, especially as the region benefits from a temperate year-round climate that is perfect for the sport. This is something that has enticed buyers to the region for many years, as no matter where you buy a property, is unlikely to be far away from a world class golfing facility.

One of the most popular areas is in Vilamoura as there are no less than the 12 golf courses in the locality. Some properties are on the golf courses and offer access to numerous amenities, while others are situated nearby. These kinds of properties are always in demand for golfing holidays, and are usually very easy to rent out.

Although Portugal does have problems, the country is taking substantial steps to return to financial health, and there’s probably never been a better time to buy. The Algarve has excellent flight connections to the rest of Europe, and is close enough to the UK for long weekend breaks. It’s also perennially popular amongst those looking to escape the winter weather.


More People Opting to Buy Previously Owned Properties in Lisbon

Apparently more people are choosing to buy previously owned properties in Lisbon rather than brand-new homes. This thought to be due to the sheer number of previously owned properties on the market, and their pricing.

Nearly three quarters of homes for sale in Lisbon during the fourth quarter of last year, and the first quarter of this year were previously owned. Another reason for their popularity is that many are bank owned repossessions, and as such are more likely to qualify for mortgages from the bank.

This has led to a fall in the number of licenses issued for new construction, and the number of new builds in Portugal is falling. Brand-new homes tend to be offered at higher prices than previously owned homes, and as a result can be more difficult to sell, taking several months longer than a second-hand property. At the moment a previously owned home is taking around 16 months to sell, whereas in 2007 the sale of such property took just seven months.

There is also the question of location, as homes within the city center are in shorter supply, and new builds tend to be more expensive and smaller in comparison to previously owned properties. While some people may be opting for bank owned properties due to the ease of getting a loan, others are taking advantage of the downturn in the market to buy homes for cash.

They are purchasing properties from homeowners desperate to sell, and are then renting out these homes. It estimated that between half and three quarters of all property transactions at the moment are being completed without the need for any financing.

Portugal Passes Sixth Bailout Review

Portugal recently passed its latest bailout review, the sixth to take place. This reviewed its performance and made the country eligible for the next €2.5 billion loan in spite of concerns over continued economic risks within Portugal.

The week-long review found the country to be generally on the right path towards financing itself in debt markets by next year. The economy is still expected to contract by 1% in 2013, and by 3% this year, a prediction that remained unchanged from the previous review in September. Growth is expected to return in 2014, although it will be very modest at just 0.8%.

The next payment means Portugal will have received 87% out of a total of €78 billion bailout, and confidence in the country’s prospects is increasing. However there are concerns that Portugal could be affected by the recession in Spain as this is its largest export market.

Portugal is currently looking at cutting corporate taxes to make it more attractive to foreign investment, and planned spending cuts of €4 billion for 2013 into 2014 will be discussed at its next review.

In 2013 Portugal is due to implement a large increase in taxes as this is necessary for it to meet budget goals, but economists think this could result in the economy contracting much more than expected due to a decline in consumer confidence.

Portugal is also suffering from record unemployment, as levels have reached a high of 15.8%. Unemployment is expected to increase to reach 16.4% by next year, but the EU and IMF considered the reforms as being necessary for sustainable growth and job creation.


Portuguese City Still Celebrating Year of Culture

The medieval Portuguese city of Guimarães has been celebrating the fact that the European Union declared it a European Capital of Culture for 2012, and has staged numerous events to commemorate the award. The title came at a time when Portugal is still struggling with its debts, and is facing some the toughest times it has faced in recent history.

In spite of this Guimarães has been able to put on a good show, thanks to European subsidies, which is just as well as money for cultural events has been cut by 30% this year, and the Culture Ministry has been downgraded to the rank of secretariat.

The heart shaped logo designed specifically for the award is on display in just about every shop in the city of Guimarães, and momentum has gradually built up over the year as more people began to realise that the project could help rejuvenate the local economy, and was about far more than just entertainment. With the money given from the award the city has been able to revitalise several neighbourhoods and areas of the city that would have otherwise remained derelict.

These projects include a cultural centre in a previously disused textile factory. Guimarães is very much a traditional Portuguese city, and has an interesting historic centre reminding visitors of just why so many people are interested in buying property here. Portugal is a country that has something for everyone, and these types of awards given to cities such as Guimarães are a reminder that there is much more to the country than merely sun, sea and sand, and that history and heritage are priceless.


Portuguese Economy Could Be Negatively Affected by Continuing Euro Crisis

According to the European commission, the continuing debt crisis within the euro zone, especially within Spain could negatively affect Portugal’s economic outlook. In addition the Portuguese government’s decision to increase taxes in order to hit fiscal targets could prove to be another negative factor.

The European commission is still anticipating a 3% decline in GDP this year followed by a decline of 1% in 2013, although some economists feel this prediction may be too optimistic.

The Commission expects to seek modest growth in the economy of just 0.8% in 2014. Although these predictions are the same as in September, following the review of the €78 billion bailout, it’s still much worse than originally anticipated in spring, as the commission predicted a slow recovery next year.

The reason for this much gloomier prediction is due to the continuing regional debt crisis, and the possibility that Spain’s situation could affect Portugal’s trade outlook. In addition the commission feels that although the tax hikes could lead to extra revenue, this could backfire if domestic demand shrinks more than predicted. In October the government presented its budget for next year which included the largest tax increases ever seen in the modern history of Portugal.

The commission thinks domestic demand will fall by 7.1% this year, and by 2.5% next year. In spite of this the government in Portugal is adamant that raising taxes is the only way it can meet its deficits. It is also looking at further spending cuts into next year and 2014 equating to 1.75% of GDP.

Portugal’s Budget Deficit Could Take Years to Reduce

Portugal’s finance minister thinks it will take years to produce the country’s budget deficit. The World Bank and IMF are currently evaluating whether further spending cuts are necessary. Next year will see the implementation of additional spending cuts of €4 billion which are on top of next year’s budget. These cuts include the largest tax hikes in Portugal’s recent history.

These spending cuts weren’t part of the country’s original €78 billion bailout from the IMF and the European Union, but have been presented by the government as a way of guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of its austerity plan.

Vitor Gaspar, Portugal’s finance minister thinks it could take several decades to reduce Portugal’s debt to GDP ratio to below 60% and that there are still considerable risks to be overcome. The debt ratio level is expected to peak next year at 124%.

Portugal is currently facing its third year of recession, and although the public initially accepted the need for austerity measures during the first year of its bailout, protests have been increasing against the latest measures.

At the moment the government is anticipating a 3% decline in GDP this year, and a 1% decline next year, but many economists think this prediction is too optimistic. Lisbon has asked the World Bank and the IMF to help identify places where spending cuts can be made as they often give technical assistance to help countries reform their public finances.

It’s expected spending cuts will be identified during the current review of the economy which is due to begin at the end of November. These spending cuts could lead to more opposition as they might include the cuts to benefits including health and welfare.