Lisbon's leap to the top of PwC's Emerging Trends in Real Estate® Europe leader board in 2019 confirmed what savvy investors have known for several years – that Portugal's property markets are some of the most attractive in Europe. More than a place to visit, the globalized nation is also one of the most desirable places to live and invest in, offering stable returns across diversified property assets.
Part of the European Union and the Schengen area, Portugal offers a stable political and social environment with a strong global focus. Economic growth above the Eurozone average and highly-skilled, English-fluent workers also make it an attractive destination to do business, from startups to established multinationals, while world-class education and enviable quality of life appeal to families.
Enhancing its appeal even further for high-net-worth individuals, Portugal's tax regime offers a low effective tax burden, free overseas remittances and no gift, inheritance or wealth tax. Property buyers who choose to live in Portugal can apply for residency or Portuguese nationality to obtain an EU passport, allowing free movement throughout the Schengen zone.
Robust sales and rental growth
Investment in Portugal's residential markets reached a historic 23 billion euros in 2018 and grew by 19 percent in the first nine months of the year, according to the Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE). As well as the growth in overseas property investment, domestic sales also increased, with many locals choosing to upsize their homes or relocate to cosmopolitan cities in light of the improving economic situation.
House prices in Portugal have risen sharply over the last few years, growing by eight percent overall in 2018 according to INE as demand for housing increasingly outpaced supply. Capital Lisbon experienced more remarkable growth of 23 percent, with house prices still being cheaper on average than in other European capitals at €10,000 per square meter, compared to €29,500 in London, €17,000 in Paris and €14,000 in Madrid.
The housing shortage is driving even more rapid growth in the rental markets, the average rent nationwide increasing by 13 percent in 2018. Many new renters are middle-class Portuguese families looking for a stopgap while waiting to buy their own homes, making short-term and long-term rentals a focus of many new developments.
Demand will continue to exceed supply across the sales and lettings markets in the coming years, but a wave of new developments is already addressing the supply shortage in key segments. Residential prices are expected to grow by an average of 5.5 percent per year over the next five years, according to the 2018 RICS Housing Market Survey, as Portugal consolidates its status as a mature European market.
Where to invest in Portugal
The capital Lisbon is Portugal's most reliable investment opportunity, named the European city with the best overall prospects by PwC interviewees for its high quality of life, positive leadership and growing economy. High-profile business events such as the Web Summit attract high-net-worth individuals to Lisbon who sometimes choose to stay for the food, culture and coastline, maintaining high demand for high-end property.
Portugal's second city, Porto has long been a holiday favorite, and the last five years have seen it gain increasing attention from investors too. House prices in the city center have more than doubled since 2014, with most new and refurbished properties being aimed at the rental market. Many of these are one-bedroom units targeting tourists and the large student population, offering high capital gains for landlords.
Outside of the major cities, Portugal offers more investment prospects along the scenic coast with beach views and convenient access to international airports, though some areas such as the Algarve have a more seasonal appeal. Investors based in Hong Kong who are interested in finding out more about Portugal real estate can attend Jones Lang LaSalle's Portugal Market Update and Property Showcase on Thursday, October 3 at One Taikoo Place.