LISBON: Portugal’s property market continues to expand at double digit rates thanks to foreign buyers, including China’s new wealthy, despite a corruption scandal over visas used to lure in rich non-Europeans.
More than one in five residences sold in Portugal last year was bought by a foreigner, according to provisional data by the Portugese Real Estate Agents Association.
Britons were in top place among the 23,000 buyers, followed by Chinese and French.
“The property market grew by between 9% and 15% in 2014,” said the head of the association, Luis Lima.
“If it hadn’t been for the Banco Espirito Santo debacle and the golden visas scandal it would have been 25%,” he added.
The collapse of BES amid suspicions of multinational accounting fraud and the visa scandal that saw senior officials resign raised concerns about the integrity of the market. However Portugal’s warm climate, low property prices and tax breaks for European retirees continued to pull in many buyers.
“We’ve seen a small drop in demand from the Chinese since the visa scandal in November, but the number of French moving into Portugal has exploded,” said Miguel Poisson, director of the ERA real estate agency network in Portugal.
Portugal has now dethroned Morocco as the top foreign destination for French retirees. Serge Pasquier, a 75-year-old former businessman was among the 3,680 French buyers in Portugal last year.
– Malaysia Property News