Despite being recognised as slow months in terms of commerce, Erik de Vlieger, Executive Director of Carvoeiro Branco, states that his company's "portfolio is very good at the moment." It's profitable standing in the market is a result of his "very well-organised company" in addition to his love for the field and ties to Portugal. As he reinforces, “I have a machine of a company, good people, motivated people, qualified people, which means I have all the bases I need to be successful.”

Affordable housing

Carvoeiro Branco has changed slightly from producing houses for foreigners, into also making “affordable houses for people that work here, and for the Portuguese themselves”, because as Erik explains “a lot of the companies at the moment are only focusing on tourist-oriented, high-priced housing mainly targeting affluent buyers from Northern Europe and America, which has a massive impact on the locals looking for affordable places to live.”

Married to a Portuguese woman, Erik feels part of the Portuguese society, which includes being part of the social environment as well. As he explains, “When you are like me in that social circle you see the company shifting, you start to think a little bit differently and you can see a company moving to affordable houses, to people who do not have the northern European salaries, and that is also very important.”

Feeling “responsible” for finding solutions, the company of the Dutch businessman has invested in a project called ‘Vale da Pipa Residence’, which is awaiting agreement regarding the construction license. The project consists of the construction of 304 affordable two-bedroom residential apartments located between Lagoa and the motorway, and as Erik has mentioned “this is a very big and important project” admitting that they “cannot make a very high profit margin for every individual house” but that the overall project “is worth it.”

Talking about what it takes to construct in the Algarve, Erik has pointed out that things are not as easy as they may seem at first due to “bureaucracies, different laws, and different speeds” especially in comparison with other countries, such as Sweden, The Netherlands, England, Denmark, among others. “There is a 180-degree difference in approach making business here in the Algarve”, he said, adding that he has seen a lot of entrepreneurs coming to the Algarve and losing money. "If you believe a construction project can be completed in one year, it's wiser to plan for two. For peace of mind, simply doubling your estimated timeline will keep you on the safe side."

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Client;

Future projects

Carvoeiro Branco’s major future projects consist of building 104 apartments in Salicos (Carvoeiro), which will be named ‘The Court’. Besides, the company is also negotiating land in Portimão to construct 97 apartments, as well as focusing on the affordable houses project mentioned above. Erik says that their “target is to pop out 1,000 houses per year” and although emphasizing that he is “extremely optimistic for the Algarve” he added that there are some issues which must be faced.

Portugal has different property markets – the coast, the big cities, and the ‘rest’ which Erik describes as “the inland, the city centers of the small villages – which are usually full of ruins.” He asserts that while the Algarve is brimming with opportunity, the facilitation by local governance is crucial for development. “The councils, they have to give more attention to make things available for people, so they can buy these ruins in these little towns and restore them.” However, he explained that the local authorities sometimes have a “do not do business here” kind of mentality which makes people give up”, adding that he knows it “by experience.”

Referring to Lagoa itself, Erik mentioned that “there are 25 to 30 big ruins, and nobody is touching them, because there are bureaucratic rules for unsafe ruins that are collapsing in the city centre.” Thus, in his own assessment of the real estate market, he emphasises that "we have to take care of our people" and claims that " The councils could focus more on supporting key initiatives. Their attention is heavily focused on managing building permits, which could be more balanced with efforts towards encouraging redevelopment beneficial to the local community.”

“I walk through Vilamoura and I do not see myself in Portugal. American companies are just buying land in the area to construct more of the same”, Erik argued saying that is why there is a need to stop this kind of “tourism monoculture.” Erik moved to Portugal in 1996 and since then he has always been trying to do the best he can when it comes to preserving Portugal’s identity. “Portugal is a very authentic country, we cannot afford to lose its authenticity, and the authenticity of the Portuguese lifestyle” he stated, finishing by saying that he is “extremely happy here, as a person and as a businessman.”


After studying Journalism for five years in the UK and Malta, Sara Durães moved back to Portugal to pursue her passion for writing and connecting with people. A ‘wanderluster’, Sara loves the beach, long walks, and sports. 

Sara J. Durães