Dubai: Thinking of heading for a road trip to Europe? If the itinerary includes Portugal or Greece, you might as well buy property there to make the rest of the trip happen.
Portugal has been offering a “Golden Visa” programme under which foreign investors can get an exposure in the country, including via real estate purchases. They need to spend 500,000 euros (Dh2.1 million) or more on a property or 350,000 euros plus on an urban renewal project to qualify.
Greece has its own version of such a deal, and that leverages on its being an EU member state. Closer to this region, Turkey too runs investment programmes tied to buying real estate in the country.
But are these enough in themselves to entice Gulf-based buyers, long used to the mature realty sector opportunities in the UK, the US and on Continental Europe? For these investors, do a visa really matter?
But southern European economies, still far from a full-fledged recovery, have positives that the others cannot — property values that have gone through an extreme down cycle. For those buyers who cannot put up the premiums a property in London or Paris require, an entry into Europe via Portugal or Greece seems a decent bargain.
“Demand for property is not only from Africa and Middle East but also from Asia and Europe as well… the Golden Visa is only an added advantage to buying properties,” said Marie Mahmouch, General Manager of Vendome International Property, an exhibitor at the International Property Show that opened Monday in Dubai. “Portugal likes to welcome investor-occupiers.
“We have seen significant take-up, especially in Portugal and that is why we started to market it before any other agents here. The economy is getting back and the real estate market is gaining every quarter. The Golden Visa is just a cherry on the cake.”
In Greece’s case, the merits of getting in early when the market was at its lowest is paying for local investors. “The assets have seen gains of 22 per cent from the time they were acquired in early 2014,” said Sameer Lakhani, Managing Director at Global Capital Partners, who picked up two small hotel properties there. “The visa programmes typically work for a select group of investors — for whom the acquisition may be part of a bigger asset play.”