How is the real estate market in Portugal, post-crisis?
Compared with other European countries, it is undervalued. In 2009, there was no credit so prices came down, nearly to cost. The golden visa scheme was very positive. Now the market is changed. Projects are usually small restorations in the centres rather than building new cities. International clients are looking for prime locations. The non-habitual residency scheme is attracting a lot of Northern Europeans. Portugal has good weather, is safe and not overcrowded. Moreover, there is unity. If I buy through the laws of Spain in Barcelona and they get independence, what happens?
Could you introduce Fine & Country Portugal to Chinese readers?
We are a boutique company that specialises in luxury real estate. This is very important. A company used to selling 100,000-euro apartments cannot connect with a millionaire from China. They want to be taken care of.
How has the golden visa scheme been?
We sold about 70 properties to Chinese investors last year. We were the first to work with immigration agents, which is essential with China. In general [Chinese investors] want the visa and the income. You can get a 5-6% return here. Other clients are looking to live in Portugal or send their children to study abroad. They should have an honest property advisor who is local.We show properties matching their requirements and explain the market so they can make an informed decision. Others want to ensure someone will take care of the house in their absence. This has been such a concern that we opened a property management company – under Chinese management.
What would be your advice to a Chinese buyer?
They should go through an immigration agent that they know well and tell them they want a good real estate company in Portugal. I have many more choices than developers do.