Home Searching in Portugal: A Mild-Crammed Retreat Close to the Atlantic Coast

House Hunting in Portugal: A Light-Filled Retreat Near the Atlantic Coast

This modern villa is located on almost three hectares in the tourist town of Sintra, about five kilometers from Portugal's southwest coast and about 40 kilometers west of Lisbon. The approximately 10,700 square meter house was built in 2008 from concrete and glass and has five bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. Daylight comes in through the floor-to-ceiling windows and doors.

The low villa disappears almost completely into its surroundings. Three floors are anchored by a central courtyard with a solitary, grand olive tree. From the driveway the front door leads to an entrance hall with a half bath. Immediately behind it is the inner courtyard, which is visible through glass walls. To the right is the open plan living room with warm Brazilian oak floors, courtyard views and doors to the expansive terraces, swimming pool and gardens. The adjoining dining room opens to a covered terrace and BBQ area connected to the pool deck. The pantry has a casual dining area and access to the garden.

To the left of the entrance there are four bedrooms with sliding doors to the pool area. Three bedrooms share two bathrooms, while the bathroom in the master suite has a rain shower, large bathtub and a glass wall overlooking the garden.

A mezzanine floor has lounge and entertainment areas such as a TV room, seating areas and office space. The basement is equipped for a varied fitness and wellness program and has a fitness room, a games room, a heated indoor pool, a whirlpool and a sauna. Outside, the 40-foot pool is flanked on one side by a long terrace with living and dining furniture and on the other side by a lawn and landscaped garden.

The villa also has central heating and air conditioning, a staff bedroom and bathroom and a garage for four cars. It is located in Colares, a village in the city of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its 18th-century architecture, wineries and resorts at the foot of the Sintra Mountains. Lisbon, Portugal's capital and largest city, is a 40-minute drive east.

"It's a very unique place," said Rafael Ascenso, the general manager of Porta da Frente Christie, who has this listing. "It is a paradise for those who like the outdoors and the rough beaches for windsurfing and surfing. It is a paradise for cycling."

Before the 2020 pandemic year, property prices in Portugal had risen steadily for almost a decade, thanks in part to the country's Golden Visa program, which allows property investors to acquire residence and citizenship, and the non-ordinary resident program, which taxes offers benefits for certain non-residents. That growth slowed as travel restrictions and border closings dampened demand, but overseas buyers looking to take advantage of the Visa program kept the market active, agents and market experts said.

The mean estimated value of houses across Portugal was 1,144 euros per square meter in November 2020, according to the National Institute of Statistics. This corresponds to an increase of 6.3 percent compared to the previous year – especially compared to the previous year's growth of 11.1 percent.

However, in line with growing market and seller confidence, asking prices were significantly higher. Idealista, the Madrid-based property search portal, said the average asking price for a home in Portugal was 2,181 euros per square meter in March 2021 – up from $ 129 per square foot five years ago.

Foreign buyers keeping an eye on Lisbon should note that the Portuguese government recently announced that investments in this city, as well as other high-density areas such as Porto and the Algarve, will be excluded from the Golden Visa program from 2022.

In 2020, "many investment buyers were buying off-plan homes as rental investments or to ensure they got the golden visa" before it expired, said Oliver Banks, a senior negotiator at Knight Frank.

Meanwhile, domestic buyer activity has "increased as people rethink their surroundings".

Christie's Mr. Ascenso said the pandemic “affected our business, but we sold a lot of properties some distance away. Last week we sold a € 4 million property with a video conference. So it's amazing how the market can adapt to these types of difficulties. "

He is "optimistic" that when border restrictions stop, buyers will react to properties they have seen from a distance.

In the Lisbon area, Idealista said the average asking price was 3,438 euros per square meter in March 2021, down from $ 184 per square foot five years ago.

Downtown, houses in the most expensive areas – especially in the Baixa and Chiado districts – sell for an average of 6,575 euros per square meter, said Patricia Casaburi, CEO of Global Citizen Solutions, an investment migration consultancy. “Prices are rising rapidly. Rental rates in this area are also very high, making it an ideal location for investment, ”she said.

She also pointed out two “emerging” neighborhoods, Marvila and Beato, once industrial areas that now “have a range of creative spaces and industries, as well as microbreweries, and can be good choices when it comes to investing in property in Lisbon. "

Mr. Banks noted that new developments in the pipeline will also benefit buyers. Lisbon sees smaller boutique developments of 10 to 20 houses, he said, with developers "having to work hard to make sure their development gets noticed". The result is higher quality constructions and surfaces as well as more convenience.

At the high end, Mr. Ascenso described the market as “stable” after five years of rising prices and demand, with the suburbs of Lisbon (particularly Sintra, Estoril and Cascais) being in higher demand than the city center, “because people are now looking for more space, more outdoor space. "

Mr. Banks Forty percent of the Lisbon market is made up of international buyers, "typically from Brazil, Great Britain, Ireland and France".

There has been a sharp increase in US buyers over the past year. “With other European countries experiencing tougher economic or physical lockdowns or more uncertainties (or both, e.g. France or Britain with the economic uncertainty of Brexit), those in the US (not) necessarily were Americans) who wanted to return to Europe , chose Portugal instead of their home countries, ”he said.

Ms. Casaburi said around 5,000 US buyers have moved to Portugal since 2015, 1,115 of them in 2020. During the pandemic, many were attracted to the country's “quality health system”.

Mr. Ascenso also noticed an increase in American buyers. “It was something that had never happened before. This is new to us, ”he said. "This demand is increasing every month."

Foreign property is not restricted in Portugal, said João G. Gil Figueira, partner at Lisbon-based law firm GFDL Advogados.

"Legal costs, notary and registration fees for a typical residential property transaction are in the 1 to 2 percent range," he said. Buyers also pay a stamp duty of 0.8 percent of the purchase price and a real estate transfer tax, which varies depending on whether the property is a first or a second apartment.

Foreigners, especially those making their first purchase in Portugal, should hire a lawyer to draw up the contracts and negotiate the terms and conditions, he said, "but especially for due diligence on the property." Older homes require a permit before they can be restored or altered, he added.

Mr Banks said properties are being sold in euros. "This is important," he said, "as currency plays a huge role in attracting international buyers."

Ms. Casaburi said local banks prefer income rather than assets when considering a loan, and often require non-residents to pay 30 to 40 percent down payment.

Portuguese; Euro (1 Euro = 1.19 USD)

The annual property tax on this home is 1,300 euros, Ascenso said.

Rafael Ascenso, Porta Da Frente Christies, 011-351-939-276-323; portadafrente.com

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