Price decline slowing, sales rising – Portugal’s recovery gains momentum

Portugal’s property market is getting busier as the second quarter of 2014 gets underway, indicating the housing recovery is well underway, according to the latest RICS/Ci Portuguese Housing Market Survey (PHMS).

The February PHMS results highlight a continued increase in buyer interest which has led to a modest rise in sales. Lettings activity remained relatively steady, although respondents appear a little more optimistic regarding prospects for future volumes.

In the sales market, transaction levels picked up slightly on the back of the strong buyer interest reported last month. What’s more, new buyer enquiries continued to rise at a healthy pace throughout the February period. Buyers will be encouraged by the fact that house prices are still falling, although the pace of decline has slowed significantly. All things considered, the sales market appears to be in better shape than at any other point since the (PHMS) survey was launched in 2010.

In the lettings sector, tenant demand experienced a marginal uptick while landlord instructions fell for the fifth month in succession. Rents continue along their downward trajectory and are anticipated to fall further in the short term. However, the outlook for lettings activity turned more upbeat, with respondents expecting volumes to rise over the coming three months.

RICS Senior Economist, Josh Miller said: “The February results show improved buyer interest beginning to translate into greater transaction volumes, a trend which is projected to continue in the near term. This is slowing but has not yet arrested the decline in prices. Before we are in a position to talk about a genuine turnaround in the housing market the brighter macro news flow must be sustained.

Stand-up paddle boarding creating waves in the Algarve – another reason to own a home there!

The fastest growing water sport in the world, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is catching on in the Algarve, thanks to the region’s sandy beaches, clean water and consistent waves providing idea conditions for the sport.

Beaches up and down the Algarve are now offering the chance to rent a paddleboard for the day, or participate in tours along the coast, including inland along rivers in the western part of the Algarve. SUP is another fun family activity that owners of property in the Algarve can look forward to doing when they visit their villa or apartment in Portugal.

In fact, SUP has become so popular that between 15th and 20th April, a small group of stand-up paddle boarders will attempt the first marathon of its kind in the Algarve. The event is a gruelling marathon paddle across the southern Algarve from Sagres to Vila Real de Santo Antonio. The event is being organised by the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association (ASMAA), to raise awareness and money to help stop the ever growing problem of pollution in our oceans and along our shores.

SUP is the fastest growing water sport in the world. Originally it was created as an exclusive leisure activity for Hawaiian royalty, but in the last couple of years, SUP has enjoyed a resurgence world-wide and in Portugal is becoming a hot spot for the sport.

The beauty, purity and the challenge of this sport make it a wonderful platform to raise awareness about the extremely serious issue of ocean pollution. ASMAA hopes to make the SUP marathon an annual event that will serve as an on-going fundraiser for protecting our oceans.

Spring is in the air – time for a viewing trip and some fun in the Algarve!

The arrival of Spring traditionally means it’s time for a visit to Portugal to begin your search for a property in the Algarve, and while you’re there take advantage of the family activities and open days offered by Portugal’s leading golf resorts.

An ideal place to base yourself in March would be Vale do Lobo, which boasts the magnificent Royal and Ocean golf courses. If you are not a member and would like to learn more about golf there, then go along to the Vale do Lobo Golf Open Day on 15th March, when you’ll be introduced to the club.

March is a busy time for tournaments in Vale do Lobo, so if you were to purchase a home in the resort and become a member of the golf club, you’d be hard pressed to stay away from your property come springtime.

From mixed roll ups to Stableford competitions and four-ball medleys on both the Ocean and the Royal courses, there’ll be something for you to get involved in. If you’re not ready to become a member but have a friend who is, perhaps you can get them to invite you to play in the club’s Saturday tournaments on designated Open Days – for the special price of just €50.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring resort of Quinta do Lago is celebrating Easter by organising a range of activities for all ages, taking place from the 14th to the 27th April. This includes a Fashion Day, a Family Word Search, activities on the lake, golf training for youngsters and a Lobster Week at Casa do Lago. What are you waiting for…?

Air access to Portugal just gets better in 2014, helped by new flights from Stansted

Getting to Portugal from the UK is set to get easier and cheaper this summer, thanks to the launch in April of low-cost carrier Ryanair’s new Lisbon service from London Stansted.

To celebrate their new summer flights, Ryanair released 100,000 seats on sale at fares from just £19.99 for travel in April and May. Further confidence from the airline in the Portuguese market was evident at the end of February, when the airline began new services between Brussels and both Lisbon and Porto in the north.

Meanwhile, stats just out show that capacity at Portugal’s airports increased 4.7 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012, with almost 20 million one-way seats accounted for in Portuguese airports last year. All four of Portugal’s main airports recorded capacity hikes compared to 2012, with Faro racking up the largest growth (8.9 per cent), followed by Madeira’s Funchal (7.1 per cent), Lisbon (4.1 per cent) and Porto (3.6 per cent). Especially noticeable is the recent increase in seat capacity between London Stansted and Portugal – namely 106 per cent in the past year.

This news is encouraging for the country’s tourism sector and owners of property in the Algarve, as it indicates a rising popularity amongst foreign visitors and makes reaching a home in Portugal easier.

Portugal’s national carrier TAP remains the country’s largest operator, offering 92 routes. As part of TAP’s summer expansion plans, it will launch 10 new services from Lisbon, including two new Brazilian destinations, namely Belem and Manaus, on 3rd June.

January sees sharp rise in Portuguese property enquiries, signalling promising 2014

Owning a home in Portugal is back in fashion in 2014, according to the latest RICS/Ci Portuguese Housing Market Survey (PHMS), which showed a significant pick up new buyer enquiries during January.

This increased activity in Portugal’s housing market has pushed the sales expectations for the coming three months to its highest level since the PHMS survey was launched in 2010.

The national confidence index – is a composite of the sales and price expectations series – increased to +16 from the previous figure of +6. This, again, is the best reading since the survey’s inception and marks the third successive month in which a positive value has been posted.

The pick-up in buyer interest and confidence has, however, yet to feed through into prices of property in Portugal. Indeed, prices are still falling (albeit at a moderating pace) and are expected to continue to do so in the near future. In the lettings sector, tenant demand rose marginally whilst landlord instructions fell for the fourth straight month. Rents continue to decline, with little respite expected in the short term. Furthermore, future lettings activity is only anticipated to rise modestly.

On a regional level, new buyer enquires increased substantially across all areas covered by PHMS. Likewise, sales are expected to grow materially throughout each region and this growth is expected to be sustained.

RICS Senior Economist, Josh Miller said: “The January results show buyer interest returning to the market while sales are expected to pick up in the months ahead. For the moment however, there is little sign of this filtering through into prices. The recent GDP figures also portray an upbeat message although the recovery still has a way to go until it is firmly entrenched.”

A Valentine’s treat for UK buyers – Sterling at year high against euro

The £/€ exchange rate hasn’t so favourable to UK buyers in Portugal for over a year now, thanks to the interbank rate hitting £1/€1.22 on February 14th, the second time it has broken the €1.22 barrier in three weeks.

The last time £1 was worth €1.22 since the end of January 2014 was the second week of January 2013, after which it plummeted to lows of €1.14 in March and again in July, before gradually rising throughout the second half of 2013.

Sterling’s performance since the start of this year has been encouraging for UK buyers, with the rate spending the majority of the time above £1/€1.20. The bullish UK economy is expected to help Sterling maintain this level, with some analysts saying it will strengthen further.

Not only does property in Portugal get cheaper to British people as Sterling gains value against the euro, but it also brings down the cost of euro mortgage payments and running costs that come with a Portuguese home.

As an example, the Sterling price of a typical €400,000 townhouse in Vale do Lobo is currently £23,000 cheaper to a UK buyer than it was at the end of July last year, when the rate was £1/€1.14. Meanwhile, a typical monthly mortgage payment of €1,500 has come down to £1,230 from £1,316 for the same reason.

British people who need to send money to Portugal to purchase a property in the Algarve, or make regular payments between a UK Sterling bank account and euro account in Portugal are advised to use a FCA-authorised currency exchange specialist rather than asking their bank direct to make the transfers, as they receive a better exchange rate and more personal service.