Here, I will discuss these issues individually, and explain how they will affect our future in this quiet and quite beautiful corner of Europe.
This is a situation that affects the British segment of the market, which is still our largest supplier of both rental and purchasing visitors.
The Portuguese government has publicly acknowledged the importance of this part of the market, reiterated how welcome Brits are here, and—to encourage more to visit—will allow Brits to stay up to 180 days, in one stay, out of 360 days, rather than the European norm of 90 days in 180.
This, of course, is of major importance to our older visitors over the winter months, which is our low season.
The Golden Visa and Non Habitual Residence schemes (as discussed in a previous article) are still available and are likely to grow in popularity.
A concern for many buyers, not only Brits, is the availability, and access to, medical services. The region’s wide network of high-quality private hospitals and inexpensive private insurance availability mean that even those not able to use the state sector can have good cover.
As Portugal once more shows its remarkable ability to deal very effectively with the Covid pandemic, its future bearing on the property market could be profound. Reports from all parts of the world show a move away from big towns and cities, as people seek to live in areas of low-density populations.
A classic example is that in the UK Cornwall has replaced London on the property portals as the most searched area for people seeking to move home! And research now shows that we are moving towards a ‘hybrid’ work model, where people will work much more from home, with reduced office visits.
The Algarve offers a great value-for-money property sector (in which we at Chestertons Portugal and O&O are a leading presence), a wonderful climate and an envious reputation for its food. A large selection of low cost airlines operate out of Faro to all parts of Europe, for easy, “come-and-go” movement of people living here and of their family members remaining in their home nations.
With broadband and now fibre-optics being rolled out quickly across the region, it is now a straightforward process for people to work remotely from here, with occasional visits to the office in their home country. In many cases flying from here is quicker and cheaper than a week’s daily commute!
The local and international schools also offer parents a wide selection, so the schooling of children is well catered for.
There are changes ahead in the way we combine work and living, and Portugal, especially the Algarve, is uniquely positioned to make that future happen, and thus underline growing reasons for an increase in the number of people choosing to move here, all of which will be reflected in the local property market.
How will technology affect the Algarve property market?
Prior to the Covid pandemic, technology had been slowly filtering into the armouries of estate agents, but realistically it was viewed as an extra, rather than major tool, with limited take up, by both agents and clients, and both sides seemed happy with that.
But we at O&O and Chestertons are proud to say that, as a company which is always ahead of the game, we saw the future was already here. Two years ago we had already invested in a range of advanced property technology, mainly the Giraffe360 system, in two packages, which for the first time gave clients total control of unfiltered 360-degree walk-through films, and digitally-generated floor plans.
Chestertons and O&O were, and are, leading the field, as the first real estate agents in Portugal with this advanced technology, a revolutionary system through which clients can download the viewing programme onto their computers, phones, laptops and tablets, to view, and share with family and friends, as often as they wish.
Increased use of such technology by all parties allows more and better detailed planning for both buyers and agents, not only of potential properties but also of their locations, with the option of adding drone flights, 3D interactive maps etc, as required, to the presentations.
This will ensure the most efficient use of a buyer’s time when they are visiting here, and, for sellers, it reduces the number of wasted home visits, the time getting a home ready for viewing, and fewer dashed hopes of a sale. I can see buyers almost having decided on a property from the comfort of their favourite sofa at home, before even visiting the Algarve!
All this, in turn, will lead to a quicker purchase process, and so hopefully lead to what is considered the holy grail of overseas property purchase, being able to sign a Promissory Contract during a visit, rather than relying on Power of Attorney, often done in home countries which, with relevant Foreign Office Appostille, can take between 1 or 2 months!
The hugely increased ability to work from home will allow many families to relocate to the Algarve, becoming more flexible in their lives, and being able, as a family to fully enjoy together the much more supine Rio relationship life style we have here, from better weather, outstanding pristine beaches, unspoilt countryside, some of the very best food in the world, top class sporting facilities, great outdoor life style and the benefits that all of this brings not just to the individual but also to the wider family.
There are a number of good international schools, both in the Algarve and in Lisbon, plus of course the local state system, and additional remote lessons are now common to help in such areas perhaps as extra languages or as ‘top ups’ to mainstream subjects, all of which helps to ensure children’s education is fully covered. There is far greater potential now for this younger market, than has been traditional in the Algarve.
Portugal understands the importance of Internet speeds and is working hard to roll out the fibre optic network. I am very pleased that our Vale da Telha office (in the council of Aljezur, on the West Coast) played its part by being able to convince MEO (one of the main telecom operators) to extend the laying of cable by a couple of kms to help bring fibre to the coastal area of Vale da Telha, which is a huge benefit to the whole area.
We are also very pleased to have two sophisticated interactive window displays in our Quinta do Lago and Lagos Offices, which allow clients to interact with us 24/7, from the exterior of our offices. We have even had interest registered in properties during working hours from clients preferring to use the screens rather than come into the office.
The current crisis has forced even our older visitors to become more tech savvy (most of us would have struggled to believe that our grandparents or parents would become dab hands at setting up Zoom meetings!), and this will allow our older visitors to spend more time here, without losing contact and feeling cut off from family across the world.
As we move into a rapidly-changing and exciting future, the Algarve really does offer a world beating fusion of rock-solid reasons for anyone, of any age group or family combination, to make this their new home.
So, come have a look and see for yourself what delights are waiting for you out here. And it goes without saying that we at O&O, in combination with Chestertons Portugal, will be delighted - not to mentioned fully-equipped -to help you in any way we can.