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CN Chinese grabbing Portugal property-for-residency visas

Property Here - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

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Official figures show that 78 percent of property-for-residency visas in Portugal have gone to Chinese nationals, but current interest may be even higher according to one top agent.

A total of 318 visas have been issued under the Golden Residence Permit since it began in October 2012, and 248 of them (78 percent) have been granted to Chinese nationals, says Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Francisca Seabra.

But one leading agent says the current level of interest in the scheme, which allows citizens outside Europe to receive a five-year residency permit by purchasing a property worth at least €500,000, may be even higher.

Charles Roberts, Managing Partner of prime property agent Fine & Country Cascais, where the average purchase is €2.7million, said: “I suspect that the figure is nearer 90 percent.”

By the end of the year around 400 ‘golden visas’ are likely to have been issued and investment of €300million generated, Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas announced while on a visit to China.

Speaking during his attendance at the Macao Forum, he has praised Chinese investors for their participation in the “fairly innovative” scheme.

The revival of the property sector has played a vital role in recent positive developments in the Portuguese economy, he said, adding rhere are no plans to limit the number of permits investors can get next year.

Thanks to Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme, property sales at Fine & Country Cascais increased by €35million from January until the end of August 2013, said Roberts.

“The demand comes predominantly from China – 85 percent – also from South Africa, Libya, and Lebanon there is a significant amount of interest from the Middle East in countries like Egypt due to the political conditions.

“In terms of value we have €35million worth of sales we would not have had if the Golden Visa programme had not been around. We have no reason to believe it will not continue.

“All of the agencies that provide us with clients are from China, so that is likely to grow significantly due to the demand from wealthy Chinese for that type of scheme.”

One property (pictured) from Fine & Country that has been attracting attention is a luxury four-bedroom villa in Guia, Cascais, which is priced at €3million and is less than 100 metres from the ocean. It has a total build area of 492 sqm and is set in a plot of 5,560 sqm with mature gardens.

Many other European nations offer similar schemes, including Spain’s ‘golden visa’ that was approved in September, which also has a €500,000 threshold.

Neville de Rougemont regularly attends meetings in China to promote the benefits of the ‘golden visa’ scheme. The company has created a specific Investor Residency Legal package, which includes full assistance with the investment side, the residency application, residency permits for family members and with renewals.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has finished its latest assessments of Portugal’s adjustment programme and approved a €1.9billion injection into the economy. It has now lent €24.34billion out of a total of €27.03billion it promised in 2011 as part of Portugal’s bailout programme.