The Portugal News recently reported that North Americans are leading the ranking of investment through Golden Visa, with a total of €25.1 million in the first three months of 2022. The majority of these investors are from California, which has a similar climate, landscape, and surf. The demographic of these investors varies from younger professionals who can work remotely to retirees.
Two Key Differences
Many North Americans are surprised to discover that there is nothing like a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or “realtor.com” in Portugal. This means that in order to see all the listed properties which meet your needs in a given area, you will often have to contact several different realtors. This is a more time-consuming process than most Americans and Canadians are used to.
On the plus side, however, realtor exclusivity contracts are also extremely rare in Portugal, so you can work with several different realtors and real estate companies at the same time.
Another shock to many people is the relaxed pace in Portugal when compared with the U.S. or Canada. This encompasses all aspects of life as well as the property buying process, from email interactions to closing documents.
Having helped clients from around the world find their perfect Portugal property, my advice is to put comparisons aside. Finding and buying the right property will happen, even if it’s not as quick a journey as you’re used to.
Golden Visa, D7, and NHR in Portugal
The Portuguese government offers fiscal incentives to property buyers, such as the Golden Visa, the D7 visa, and Non-Habitual Residency tax status.
In December 2021, several prominent regions in Portugal lost their right to offer the Golden Visa program. However, you can still secure your Portuguese residency (and eventual citizenship, if desired) by investing in certain funds, commercial property anywhere in Portugal, or residential real estate in low density areas – including the most westerly region of the Algarve.
Companies such as Sovereign offer expert advice and can do all the work for you with in-house accountants and lawyers. Alternatively, there are many other excellent lawyers who can steer you through the process. It is important to be comfortable with the lawyer that you intend to engage.
Portugal offers an enviable climate, clean air, favorable cost of living, scenic countryside, beautiful beaches, low crime rate, welcoming locals, fresh produce, seafood, and wine. So, it’s no wonder Portugal has been topping “Best Destination” and “Best Places To Live” lists in recent years.
Prior to arriving in Portugal, it is crucial to do some homework on the different regions. Consider what is important and what drives your decision to relocate. Check out the climate – it can vary greatly from north to south. If schooling is important, know where the international schools are located. If medical care is vital, then research the hospitals. Private health is not expensive in Portugal. If the purpose of the move is to obtain a Golden Visa, then check out the areas that comply. Remember that the Portuguese government have recently changed the rules so that high density areas such as Lisbon, Porto and a greater part of the Algarve no longer comply.
Recently, I had a call from a lady who arrived from Los Angeles looking to purchase a property in Lisbon. I asked if Golden Visa was her requirement and she responded in the affirmative. I informed her that Lisbon no longer qualified for a Golden Visa property purchase unless it was on a touristic development. She was looking for a villa for permanent residency and was quite shocked, stating that she is a ‘city girl’. This shows the importance of thorough research and taking trustworthy advice prior to setting foot on foreign soil.
I cannot stress enough just how crucial it is to seek professional advice before undertaking any major move or investment. Talk to the experts and take time to consider which criteria are most important to you. You may need to talk to more than one company. It can be a long journey, so working with someone you feel comfortable with is important.