Global Geopolitics Fuels Demand for Luxury Homes in Madrid

12 May 2019 – El Confidencial

Wealthy investors and families from China, Russia, Venezuela and Mexico are particularly active in the luxury home segment in Madrid, in particular in the districts of Salamanca, Chamberí, Retiro and Moncloa-Aravaca.

According to the College of Property Registrars, foreigners accounted for 6.7% of all residential purchases over €500,000 in the Community of Madrid in 2017, a figure that rose to 8.4% in 2018.

There are several pull-factors motivating these buyers including tax exemptions, golden visas (thanks to Law 14/2013), (relative) legal certainty, low rates of crime and affordable prices, compared to Miami and other European capitals. The language, climate and excellent transport infrastructure also play their role, as do the world-class universities and business schools in the Spanish capital.

A number of push-factors are also evident, which is where the geopolitical developments come into play. The political and economic crisis in Venezuela, the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as the President of Mexico in December, the political uncertainty in Cataluña and even the on-going Brexit saga, are all important reasons for wealthy buyers to turn their backs on their home countries in favour of Madrid when it comes to buying a property.

To date, since they were introduced in 2014, 2,948 golden visas have been granted for the purchase of luxury homes, with half going to Chinese citizens (1,476) and a fifth going to Russians (621).

Moreover, according to official statistics from Spain’s National Institute for Statistics, the number of Mexican residents in Spain has risen from just over 20,000 in 2014 to more than 25,200 by the end of 2018, of whom one third live in Madrid.

Meanwhile, the number of Venezuelan residents has increased from just over 32,000 five years ago to 57,120 in 2018. Nevertheless, in both cases, the real number of arrivals is higher since many move to Spain through family links making them entitled to Spanish passports.

Original story: El Confidencial (by Marcos García)

Translation/Summary: Carmel Drake

The Real Estate Recovery Takes Hold In Portugal

15 December 2016 – El Mundo

After several years in crisis, the Portuguese real estate market is booming once again thanks to public auctions of properties and the arrival of overseas buyers, attracted by the tax exemptions and the quality of life.

In Lisbon, Luis Morais, a 43-year old IT teacher, has just acquired an 80 m2 apartment in Sintra, a city close to the capital, for €49,000 in a public auction. The bidding started at €33,000. “It is a bargain” said the IT teacher. “We are not going to live there, we just want to rent out the apartment to supplement our income”, explained Teresa, his partner, aged 36, who teaches mathematics.

The property was confiscated from a family with lots of debt and was owned by the public bank Caixa Geral de Depositos, which decided to auction it off. Like Luis and Teresa, many Portugese people are now choosing to invest in property rather than leave their money in the banks, which are still fragile following the crisis.

Overseas investors are also buying properties in public auctions, such as the case of a three-storey office building in the entre of Lisbon, which was put on the market for €5.1 million.

From recession to recovery

After several years of crisis, the real estate market in Portugal began to improve in 2013 and the recovery accelerated in 2015, thanks to low interest rates, which drove up sales by 27%. Between 2008 and 2012, house prices fell by 30% in Portugal, but they are now soaring again thanks to overseas buyers, attracted by the quality of life in Portugal and the tax exemptions on offer.

The phenomenon is being felt in Lisbon above all. “In two years, prices have risen by 20% and they are still increasing, there is still room for growth” said Pascal Gonçalves, President of Libertas, a property developer.

Recently, a 160 m2 apartment in the popular neighbourhood of Alfama was sold for €420,000, which is twice as much as it was worth ten years ago. And in the heart of the capital, in the neighbourhood of Chiado, a 100 m2 2-bedroom home was recently sold for €900,000, a price that would have seemed very high just a few years ago.

No risk of a bubble

In Oporto, the largest city in the north of the country, the real estate sector is also performing well. “I have doubled my turnover in a year, and I now earn four times as much as when I worked as a biologist”, explained Isabel Leitao, aged 33, who has been working as an estate agent for six years.

During the first nine months of 2016, the activity of the network of real estate agents Century 21 has soared by 36%. Its President for the Iberian Peninsula, Ricardo Sousa, expects “prices to stabilise in Lisbon because they are out of step with the incomes of Portuguese people”.

Nevertheless, according to the Minister for the Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, there is no risk of a real estate bubble. “Prices have increased in Lisbon, but they are still much lower than in Paris or London”.

The average price of an apartment in Lisbon has increased to €3,607/m2, according to the ad website Imovirtual. (…).

Original story: El Mundo

Translation: Carmel Drake