Portugal’s Golden Visa programme has become hugely popular among non-EU citizens looking to invest in Portuguese property.
Since the Portuguese government launched the scheme in 2012, it has generated an impressive EUR5.2 billion as of June 2020 in foreign investment and is a strong incentive for property investors worldwide.
But how exactly does the programme work and what makes it so popular among would-be investors? Check out our guide answering the top 10 questions.
Portugal’s Golden Visa programme is essentially a government scheme which offers citizens of non-European Union countries the opportunity to obtain residency – and potentially, citizenship – in Portugal once they have invested in Portuguese property. It is dealt with by the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service, or the Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) and has helped Portugal generate foreign investment and employment in the country.
An individual must be a citizen of a third-party country to apply for a golden visa, which means Portuguese and EU nationals are not eligible to apply.
Since launching in 2012, the scheme has mainly attracted high-net worth individuals, highly-skilled professionals and retirees.
To qualify for a golden visa, one of the following three key criteria must be met:
In some cases, people who are investing in small and medium businesses, or in the arts and culture or scientific research may qualify too but the vast majority (90%) receive the visa through real estate investment.
In some cases, property investments valued at €350,000 or above may qualify, but the SEF will only approve these if the property being purchasing is more than thirty years old, is located within specific regeneration areas and requires extensive renovation work. If an investor elects to pursue this route, it is important to seek legal advice first.
The scheme requires that the investor maintains their investment for five years and complies with the minimum required periods of stay during this time. Most applicants need to provide proof of medical insurance to stay in the country, and the government may carry out checks to ensure applicants have a clean criminal record.
Many investors like Portugal’s Golden Visa programme because it is a fast-track way to acquire residency and allows investors to gain residency permits not only for themselves but also their spouse and any dependent children they may have. It also allows for travel throughout the EU Schengen zone without any additional visas - and once residency or citizenship has been gained investors and their dependents can live, work and study freely throughout the zone.
Once a golden visa is issued, the holder is also entitled to tax exemptions from other overseas income, if the investors lives in the country for less than 183 days per Portuguese tax year. Please speak to a tax advisor for more information.
The visa is valid for one year and it must then be renewed every two years after that. After five years, most people can apply for permanent residency and after six years, it is generally possible to apply for full citizenship by investment.
To keep a golden visa valid, the holder must spend at least seven days in the country during their first year as part of the programme, and after this, two weeks in the country every two years. Once an investor applies for permanent residency, they may have to pass a basic language test.
When applying to the scheme, the following documentation must be provided:
Once a qualifying property has been purchased and the paperwork submitted, an investor should be able to expect to receive their visa within three months or more, depending on if any problems exist with the application and supporting documentation.
If you are interested in the Portuguese Golden Visa programme, IP Global is happy to help investors through the process. Simply contact us here.
*Update: The Portuguese government announced in February 2020 that it intended to omit the coastal cities from the regions applicable to the golden visa programme in order to boost inland investment and create more jobs. This, however, has been tabled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the foreseeable future Porto and Lisbon remain the best options for investors in terms of capital upside and visa acquisition.
270 days of sunshine a year, a laid-back lifestyle based around the sea, and a city centre bustling with restaurants, shops and art make it easy to understand why Lisbon has been ranked as a top European travel and investment destination for 2019.
Long seen as a picturesque and affordable city, it has only been in the past several years that Lisbon has started to move away from its conservative roots to deliver a trendy vibe of its own. Thanks to an influx of young creatives and entrepreneurs attracted by the city’s reasonable rents, thriving café and bar culture and growing career opportunities, many commentators are beginning to brand Lisbon as one of Europe’s coolest cities.
Rua do Poço dos Negros, located in the formerly run-down central district of Santos, perfectly showcases the city’s transition. This important axis in the city centre is receiving renewed attention, offering new opportunities for residents, tourists and investors.
Santos is one of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhoods, with the area’s full name of Santos-O-Velho meaning ‘Santos, the old’. Along the narrow streets you can find many well-maintained palaces and old churches from previous centuries.
With its historical importance, Santos is also the perfect home for Lisbon’s Museum of Ancient Art, one of the city’s best historical museums.
Lisbon’s famous 28 Tram route weaves through many of the city’s key neighbourhoods, including making a journey past Rua do Poço dos Negros in Santos.
Popular with tourists, this tram offers visitors the ability to hop on and off at various points along the tram route. This is good news for local business owners as shops close to the track benefit from increased foot traffic.
Lisbon’s entrepreneurial spirit, like Berlin’s before it, has been encouraged by the city’s surplus of empty buildings that are available at low prices. Young creatives have clustered in the central Santos area and, in particular along Rua Poço dos Negros.
A formerly run-down district, Santos has been reborn thanks to local not-for-profit organisations that work to revitalise abandoned ground floor spaces and start-ups who have populated many of the area’s buildings.
Previously forgotten storefronts are now occupied by young fashion designers, product designers, architects, graphic designers and other creatives.
Co-working spaces have also appeared throughout the area, offering space to companies and individuals with smaller space requirements.
Dear Breakfast – An architectural highlight in the neighbourhood, this all-day café strives to extend and elevate mornings through their extensive menu of breakfast foods and natural drinks. An ideal place to relax and enjoy a good meal, Dear Breakfast offers a great start to the morning.
The Mill – This small Nordic-style café offers endless brunch options and even sells its own ceramics. Diners can choose anything from fresh fruit salads with yougurt to spicy bowls of ragout of red beans, peppers and baked tomatoes. For lunch and dinner, The Mill serves light meals and also operates as a wine bar.
Hello, Kristof – A popular coffee shop along Rua Poço dos Negros, visitors can expect a fantastic latte and to see many young workers on their MacBooks. Offering an extensive magazine selection and a Nordic-style menu, this is a lovely place to stop for a mid-afternoon break.
Grandma Came To Work – This intergenerational creative hub is bringing Lisbon’s elderly population into closer contact with the growing younger generations. Focused on handing down traditional crafts and highlighting the importance of the city’s history, the hub welcomes various art, music and cultural organisations to take part in their programmes.
Portuguese Tea Company – Don’t be surprised if you smell this shop long before you see it. With innumerable tea pots full of aromatic tea blends, visit here for a unique souvenir and to learn more about tea’s history for the knowledgeable staff.
The Carvalho, IP Global’s latest investment opportunity in Lisbon, Portugal, re-imagines a historic building along Rua Poço dos Negros. Learn more about how you can invest in Europe’s leading market today.
The Portuguese capital of Lisbon is one of Europe’s most thriving cities, but that hasn’t always been the case: one of Europe’s oldest cities, Lisbon was among the worst-hit areas during the country’s sovereign debt crisis in 2008.
Fast forward a decade and this vibrant city on southern Europe’s Iberian Peninsula has made a remarkable recovery. Since the country received a bailout of EUR78 billion from IMF and the EU in 2011, Lisbon and other Portuguese cities have gone from bust to boom.
Here are six reasons why Lisbon is now the perfect place to buy property.
Since the 2008 Great Recession hit Portugal, the county has undergone an extraordinary revival, and economic growth continues. Five years after exiting the 2011 bailout programme, the country now boasts a stable macro economy, with the headquarters of many multinational companies occupying its thriving capital and many imports and exports passing through Lisbon’s port.
The Lisbon HQs of Portugal’s financial companies represent almost half of the national GDP and a labour productivity rate that’s 1.3 times higher than the national average.
Another by-product of Lisbon’s financial evolution has been its transformation from a service-based economy to a more digital one, and with a decreasing unemployment rate – which fell from 16% in 2013 to 6% in 2019 – and a growing employment rate, Lisbon is now among Europe’s most competitive cities.
A discrepancy in supply and demand means there’s a growing need for real estate in Portugal and, as cited by the real estate agency Golden Tree, the cities of Lisbon and Porto create 50% of the country’s total housing demand alone.
According to Colliers, international demand has accounted for a quarter of Lisbon’s residential market since 2015 and CBRE reported that as a result, the city’s house prices had soared by 9% by 2017.
While average house prices may have plateaued, the residential market is still performing well. A further 70,000 new homes were said to be needed in Portugal last year and this supply and demand discrepancy only strengthens the appeal for real estate investors from overseas.
The influx of both business and leisure travellers in Lisbon continues to increase. The number of passengers moving through the city’s airport reached a record high of 29 million last year and the country’s strength of infrastructure shows no signs of wavering. Thanks to a EUR1.15 billion contribution from the French construction company VINCI, the airport is set to undergo an ambitious expansion, alongside a new civil airport in Montijo, while both Lisbon and Porto have received a EUR517 million investment for a Metro network expansion.
On a broader scale, the urban renewal project, known as the City of Lisbon Investment Plan 2016-2020, will see everything from drainage networks to cultural venues being revived. According to sources from Carris, Aurobus and Civitatis, local transport, school facilities and public green spaces will also benefit from EUR523 million worth of funding to help boost Lisbon’s smart city status.
Thanks to new strategic approaches to regeneration, Lisbon is proving itself to be a powerful player in the global technology world. In 2014, this innovative metropolis became the first European city to set aside EUR1 million for the development of start-up incubator networks in historic centres and through initiatives such as Horizonte 2020 and the StartUp Visa programme, it’s becoming a magnet for talented investors and entrepreneurs.
Now a host of the annual Web Summit conference, the city is making noticeable efforts to maintain its position within the European start-up ecosystem. The Portuguese government is contributing EUR110 million toward the conference, which will be hosted in Lisbon for ten years. With participant numbers set to increase by an estimated 30,000, this will only strengthen Lisbon’s credentials as a Smart City and maintain its reputation as the newest tech capital in Europe.
As Portugal’s key university hub, Lisbon’s student population has thrived in recent years, reaching a total of 130,000 across the city’s three highly-regarded universities.
While some 20,000 undergraduates attend the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal’s most highly-ranked university, the University of Lisbon now accommodates more than 50,000 full-time students. With a strong international student population – 17% of the student body – the institution is set to receive a brand-new campus, thanks to EUR16 million in funding.
Meanwhile, the Instituto Superior Tecnico, ranked the 11th largest engineering school in Europe, continues to strengthen Lisbon’s academic prestige. Many graduates are electing to stay in Lisbon following their studies, thanks to the city’s now-thriving jobs market.
Thanks to the Non-Habitual Residents Initiative which launched in 2009 and offers preferential tax treatment for foreign investors, Portugal has become extremely appealing to those looking to buy property from overseas.
Launched with foreign, highly-skilled professionals, wealthy individuals and pensioners and retirees in mind, this fiscal incentive rewards foreign buyers with double tax exemption for ten years. High-net worth individuals who take residency in Portugal are also awarded a range of benefits.
In addition to the Non-Habitual Residents Initiative, the Golden Visa Programme has heightened the appeal for any non-EU citizens investing in Portugal. So far, the initiative has attracted huge interest from Chinese nationals, generating EUR3.9 million in foreign investment for the country.
We don’t anticipate Lisbon’s appeal faltering any time soon. The city’s population is set to increase to more than three million in 2025 and tourism numbers continue to grow. Firmly on IP Global’s radar for top European investment locations, Lisbon’s fascinating Mediterranean heritage and growing cultural attraction continue to attract travellers and investors alike.
What to learn more about Lisbon? You can download IP Global’s Investor Guide today or read our recent Q&A with IP Global Director Grant Reynolds.
oday, Lisbon finds itself among the best European cities to buy property in. With its fascinating heritage, evolving start-up culture and range of government schemes that help foreign investors acquire real estate here, there is no better time to invest in Lisbon’s property market.
But, how easy is it for international buyers to get a mortgage in Portugal? Pretty easy - if you know how. To help simplify the process, here is our mini-guide to successfully navigating Portuguese mortgages.
Always consider working with a mortgage adviser when purchasing property in Portugal. On the whole it is best to find a lender in Portugal - and having the right mortgage adviser on hand will help you avoid any language barriers. Furthermore, a qualified adviser will already know who the most suitable lenders are, and they will advise you on the most competitive products to apply for, according to your investment strategy and budget.
If you are buying property in Portugal, you are required by law to have your own personal tax number - known as a Numero de Identificacao Fiscal (NIF). Issued by the Portuguese tax office, this nine-digit number is a legal requirement for anyone who resides, works or is buying real estate in the country.
The law for EU and non-EU citizens varies and you may initially be issued a temporary NIF number. Make it a priority to register at the tax office before you submit your mortgage application. Once you have your fiscal number, it is also a good idea to open a Portuguese bank account.
There are various documents you will need to provide when preparing your Portuguese mortgage application.
In most cases, you will need to provide photographic ID, proof of address, as well as proof of income and deposit (in the way of pay slips, tax return statements and two to three months’ worth of bank statements).
There are various fees you will need to get to grips with before you purchase your property.
A Property Transfer Tax, or IMT, is applied to every property sale in Portugal and ranges from 1% to 8%, depending on the value and use of the building. You will have to pay the government a Stamp Duty on your mortgage of 0.6% and an Acquisition Stamp Duty of 0.8% of the declared purchase price.
Don’t forget valuation fees and any arrangement fees that your mortgage lender and mortgage broker may charge. By law, you are expected to pay a Land Registry Fee for the property deed and mortgage deed, as well.
It is best to apply for a mortgage in principle. However, if you’ve already placed an offer on Portuguese real estate, you will need to provide details of the property, which could include a property plan or land registry documents. You may be asked for your credit report and NIF (tax) number too.
Many mortgage lenders in Portugal will provide both variable and fixed rate interest options, so choose the type of rate that works for you.
The benefit of taking out a Portuguese mortgage (rather than sourcing one from overseas) is that your lender will assess the property and carry out their own legal checks. Once this is complete, you will receive a letter confirming the valuation and your mortgage will be officially approved.
Our expert teams at IP Global are happy to provide our clients with advice on investing in Portugal. We can also provide assistance with golden visas, mortgage applications and recommend local solicitors ahead of the process. If you are interested, you can request your free consultation here.
There is no single measure which indicates if a real estate market is worth investing in.
Rather, there are various criteria the IP Global Investment team considers when researching emerging markets. Today we review key signs of investment potential and three new European markets IP Global sees strong potential in.
Population growth, which leads to increased demand for residential property, is a primary factor to consider. This is followed closely by economic growth; if consistent across a diverse range of industries, this demonstrates that the demand for property will likely increase further.
If a region also boasts a well-developed infrastructure network, this can also be an indicator of the area’s strong and stable economy.
A city’s public transportation network, for example, plays a vital role in connecting households across metropolitan areas and leads to higher quality opportunities for employment, healthcare and education.
Increased transparency has led to more new markets being placed on our radar and when we identify an under-supplied housing market, it suggests that there will be upward pressure put upon both property prices and rents. As more investors move into under-supplied markets, a snowball effect often takes place across many industries, and with it we see job growth, an increase in infrastructure developments as well as a rise in tech innovations across the region.
Established real estate markets such as London and New York have track records which demonstrate that through politically uncertain times the cities’ property markets remain resilient and a good investment. This offers investors piece of mind, but also ensures that prices remain high.
Emerging markets can feel more uncertain. Without a lengthy history to review, investors need to look at indicators such as those above to know whether a new property venture is wise. Our investment experts rightfully point out that times of political uncertainty can mean great things for investors, as real estate will always be a relatively stable asset, providing consistent rental income along with capital appreciation of the property.
It is worth closely examining the foreign investors laws and incentives that a given region has in place, along with the availability and affordability of buy-to-let financing. Savvy investors will recognise that particularly good incentives for overseas buyers boost a market’s appeal and investment potential.
Using the indicators discussed above, our most recent research has revealed three European cities with fantastic potential for investment: Lisbon, Porto and Leipzig.
It’s no secret that Lisbon has emerged as a leading destination for travellers. However, this coastal capital city, with its exciting start-up scene and forward-thinking culture, is now firmly on the radar of investors too.
Portugal’s stable political and social environment makes it instantly appealing for low-risk investment. Despite a 2008 recession, the country has seen a remarkable recovery, with the Bank of Portugal reporting economic growth of 2.1% in 2018 and an anticipated 7% unemployment decline.
The soar in tourism numbers and rise of established companies, start-ups and freelancers operating in the city has only added to the city’s investment case, leading to a substantial increase in housing and rental prices. The city is undergoing major infrastructure improvements which will only increase Lisbon’s appeal. A EUR210 million Metro project and the opening of a new airport in the nearby municipality of Montijo, which is expected to service 50 million passengers each year, will allow far more people to travel to Lisbon.
With its dynamic business and booming tourism economy, PwC awarded the city of Lisbon first place in their 2019 Emerging Trends in European Real Estate report. Raising from eleventh place in 2018, Lisbon is now Europe’s number one city for investment and development prospects in 2019 and ranked second for projected capital and rental price growth, outranking major capitals including Paris, London and Madrid.
Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, is fast becoming one to watch. Already home to approximately 1.3 million residents, Porto is set to welcome 65,000 new inhabitants in the next fifteen years.
Foreign investment across Porto and northern Portugal is booming, thanks to the area’s growing population. Greenfield* foreign investment has been particularly strong, with the number of jobs created by overseas investors increasing by an impressive 300% between 2013-2016. Porto also received the highest amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the whole of the country between 2016-2017.
Porto’s thriving start-up and freelance culture has played a huge part in its growing economic success. 2018 proved to be one of the city’s key turning points when it was named the ‘Best Startup Friendly City of Europe’ in the World Excellence Awards. In that same year, Porto attracted thirteen foreign investment projects across sectors outside of tourism and real estate which were valued at EUR210 million – a fifteen-year high for the city. This was also the highest number of greenfield foreign investments Porto had ever acquired in one year, a further sign that Porto is a market investors should not overlook.
With an expected population growth of 22% by 2030, Leipzig is benefiting greatly from its close proximity to Germany’s capital city. Often dubbed ‘the little Berlin’, Leipzig shows all the key signs of investment potential – the city’s population growth for example, has led to a 100% increase in house prices since 2009 and, according to Deutsche Bank, housing is in short supply and vacancy rates have dropped from around 6% in 2011 to just 2% in 2018.
As a result of Leipzig’s housing shortage, capital and rental growth rates have soared across the entire property market. In 2018 the price of new and existing apartments rose by an accumulated 80%, while the price of new homes almost doubled, leading Deutsche Bank to name Leipzig the ‘most interesting property market’ in the east of Germany.
Alongside its population growth, Leipzig’s economy and labour market have undergone a transformation in recent years. Between 2005-2018, the unemployment rate fell from 22% to 6.1% and employment rates have increased 28.5% since 2009. The University of Leipzig is recognised as one of Germany’s leading universities with regards to top-class research and medical expertise and the passing in 2009 of the 2020 Leipzig Integrated City Development Concept – a commitment to improving the city’s housing, education, cultural and historical preservation and overall infrastructure - is a sure sign that Leipzig is becoming a strong market to invest in.
*Greenfield investment is where a company sets up a subsidiary property in a foreign country, by building its own brand new facilities from the ground up – as opposed to purchasing or leasing an existing facility.
Sources: JLL, Knight Frank, CBRE, PwC, Deutsche Bank, The University of Leipzig
All figures accurate at time of publication – August 2019
With over 18 years of experience helping investors build and maximise their investment portfolios, IP Global Director, Wealth Management Grant Reynolds knows a thing or two about the global property market. A recent trip to Portugal showed him a prime opportunity for investors, regardless of investment experience.
With year-round comfortable temperatures, historic architecture, a thriving property market and large-scale development plans in the works, Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon is an ideal destination for tourists and investors alike.
Since 1873 the Lisbon tramway network has been an integral part of the city’s transport system, serving locals and visitors alike. The number 28 tram, with its iconic yellow carriages, offers visitors a quintessential experience that should not be missed. Connecting Martim Moniz with Campo de Ourique, and passing through the popular districts of Graça, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela, this tram route offers a leisurely tour past Lisbon’s top sights.
the 1st stop - Graça
Graça is a great district in which to experience Portuguese life. Located at the top of a hill, hop off the tram here to visit family-run shops and bustling cafes. You can explore the lively Feira da Ladra (flea market), the Igreja São Vicente de Fora as well as the Miradouro Da Graça, a popular terrace offering sweeping views across Lisbon’s brown tiled rooftops and the water beyond.
The 2nd stop - portas do sol
The closest stop to the São Jorge Castle, Portas do Sol is a scenic plaza in Alfama. From here, the Decorative Arts Museum is also worth visiting. As the tram winds through the narrow streets of Alfama, look out for two breath-taking points: Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro de Santa Luzia, both of which offer astonishing angles over the red rooftops and the pastel-coloured houses of the district.
The 3rd stop - Saint anthony
Hop off the tram outside the ancient Se Cathedral and Church of Saint Anthony. Saint Anthony is the patron saint of Lisbon and the Church was constructed on his birthplace.
The 4th stop - Rua da Conceição
Rua da Conceição is the tram stop at the southern side of the Baixa district, close to the pedestrianised street of Rua de Augusta and Lisbon’s finest plaza, the Praça do Comércio. This shopping area brings international brands next door to age-old shops all along beautifully cobblestone walkways.
The 5th stop - Praça Luís de Camões
The main plaza of Bairro Alto, Praça Luís de Camões is a buzzing plaza where there is always something going on. The narrow cobbled streets of Bairro Alto come alive at night with fun bars and trendy hangouts, and on weekends the socialising spills out onto the streets.
The 6th stop - Basílica da Estrela
Stop off at the Basílica da Estrela and take in its ornate Baroque façade and huge doomed roof. Positioned in the calm district of Estrela, opposite the Basilica you’ll find the pleasant Jardim da Estrela, a popular park among Portuguese families and a great place to relax after a day of sightseeing.
Interested in learning more about Lisbon?
Read our Lisbon Property Q&A with IP Global’s Investment Manager Stacey Rohwer and see why she is excited by the investment potential she sees in the city.
Lisbon, Portugal’s coastal capital, has become one of Europe’s smartest cities and a prime opportunity for overseas property investors. Stacey Rohwer, an IP Global Investment Manager, recently took the time to explain the changes she has seen in Lisbon and what is attracting investors to the city.
Lisbon is simultaneously one of the oldest and youngest cities in Europe. Portugal as a whole was heavily affected by the 2008 Recession and has had to rebuild significantly. We are seeing Lisbon grow in very new and exciting ways. The city’s rich history offers a perfect foundation for its forward-thinking culture and creativity to build upon. We are currently witnessing the city move toward becoming one of the most significant international hubs for innovation.
Lisbon has always been the political and economic capital of Portugal, but it is now also positioning itself as a creative hub; we’re seeing a steady evolution of the city into an exciting destination that fosters the exchange of new ideas. Many local and international talents enjoy the city’s low rents and this younger community is actively revitalising previously neglected buildings and turning them into innovative and cultural endeavours, especially in the city’s tech sector. The increasing popularity of the city’s start-up ecosystem is best shown through the success of one of the world’s largest technology conferences, Web Summit, which moved to the city in 2016.
Currently, the city is going through several infrastructure regeneration initiatives, such as a metro network expansion project. Lisbon airport will also be expanded and a new civil airport in Montijo will be built. Such projects will ease growing congestion, caused by the city’s economic growth and tourism boom. Additionally, the city will be going through an urban renewal where public amenities and spaces will be improved and aligned with smart city innovations.
Students and young professionals! Lisbon has a world-class pool of universities and talent, while also offering very low costs of living. The city does afford the perfect living environment for competitive and exceptional talent. A range of government initiatives has seen significant migration to the country, as well.
There are no restrictions for foreigners looking to buy property in Lisbon; in fact, the government has created schemes that encourage foreign investors to look at the city, such as the Golden Visa Programme and the Non-Habitual Residents Initiative. Once granted, members of these schemes will have easy access to investment opportunities in the city.
Yes, there is an increasing demand for residential properties. It’s also worth noting that 50% of the country’s total housing demand is centred in its two biggest cities, Lisbon and Porto. Lisbon has suffered from a chronic under-supply in the market for quite some time and only in recent years have we seen the construction activity pick up. This is only making a dent in the city’s supply needs though.
Lisbon is a safe place for domestic and foreign investment. Following the financial crisis, the city’s property market is showing healthy signs of recovery and in the context of high liquidity and low interest rates the property market is emerging as a high return investment in the current and near future. Lisbon’s property growth is backed by strong fundamentals, government initiatives, a severe lack of supply and a growing population. There is no evidence to suggest the growth in the market is a bubble or unsustainable. In fact, Lisbon has been named the number 1 destination for investment in PwC’s 2019 Emerging Trends in European Real Estate report.
Because of the variety of investment opportunities that Lisbon offers, the city’s potential is highly compelling and profitable. We of course always recommend interested parties conduct their own research into a property market before they invest. We are more than happy to provide our clients with one-on-one consultations to discuss the process of investing in Portugal, including mortgage applications, recommended solicitors, Golden Visas, Lettings and Managements and more. You can request your free consultation here.
Europe’s tech scene is thriving.
Once thought to be under the dominion of a small portion of California, USA, the tech industry’s globalisation has helped bolster economies and encourage invention around the world. Europe has been at the forefront of tech innovation in recent years, bringing us everything from Spotify to Deliveroo.
We increasingly see that in order for cities to thrive in this day and age, they need to invest in tech and offer an attractive climate for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs. Bringing in lucrative companies and workforces, the technology sector is encouraging significant growth in the cities that house important hubs.
Wider spread than it once was, the European start-up ecosystem is varied, with impressive new companies developing ideas in unexpected places and bringing investor attention with them. From Europe’s original tech capital to the continent’s most promising younger city, read on to learn which cities’ investment cases are benefiting most from their economy’s growing technology focus.
London remains the unquestioned epicentre of start-up activity in Europe. With three times more venture capital investment recorded in 2018 than any other European city, we’ve seen London become a global start-up powerhouse which to date has produced 36 unicorns (tech start-up companies that have reached a USD1 billion market evaluation) and one in five of the fastest-growing companies in Europe.
“Entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors cite London’s talent, creativity, innovation and dynamism as key to its long-term success,’ stated Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, as part of his LondonIsOpen campaign. With the introduction of an assortment of investment incentives such as the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme - delivering initial income tax relief of 50% on start-up investments of up to USD128,000 - we see the city taking steps to ensure its standing, regardless of governmental changes.
The Savills Tech Cities 2019 report claims that the city has over 2.7 million people employed in Finance and Business services, more than 50% above the report’s average. Home to excellent universities and acting as a global financial services capital, London looks set to remain a leading start-up hub. Fintech disruptors TransferWise and Funding Circle began their journeys here, and many more are expected to follow from, for example, East London’s Silicon Roundabout.
Berlin has long enjoyed the status as a European centre for art and nightlife, and in recent years the city’s relatively low real estate prices, reasonable cost of living and wealth of local talent have helped position it as a centre for technology start-ups and entrepreneurs on the continent.
In the first quarter of 2017, the city saw USD140 million invested in its fintech industry, the second largest amount in Europe. Companies, such as Penta, Swiss Bank and Samsung NEXT have realised the great potential of the German capital and are relocating to Berlin in preparation for the upcoming changes to the EU. This healthy growing ecosystem is pulling an excitingly diverse pool of talent and expertise, with roughly one-fifth of local start-ups having relocated from out of town.
Already home to success stories such as SoundCloud and offering attractive funding programmes, McKinsey estimates Berlin start-ups will generate 100,000 jobs by 2020, demonstrating that the city’s standing as one of Europe’s leading start-up capitals does not appear to be going anywhere.
‘Ireland is one of the best places in the world to be a technology company,’ Head of Facebook Ireland, Garteh Lambe, said in November 2018 when the company announced its acquisition of a new long-term lease of fourteen acres in Dublin - the city’s largest ever office letting.
Hosting Europe’s fastest-growing tech worker population in both 2016 and 2017, Dublin has firmly established itself in recent years as an attractive innovation hub. According to recent TechIreland data, the city houses more than 1,000 start-ups, with one in five securing over EUR1 million in funding. 2018 saw nearly 200 venture capital deals completed in Ireland worth approximately EUR553 million, a leap up from the previous year by EUR100 million.
The city’s business-friendly, low tax environment has drawn other big players to Dublin, with Airbnb, Google and Apple also moving in. The mix of young start-up incubators and global tech powerhouses have helped propel Dublin and its tech industry forward, cementing its position as a major global tech player.
When asked to think of Lisbon, images of beautiful beaches and picturesque streets probably come to mind – not revolutionary tech. Yet, the Mediterranean metropolis is gaining an increasing amount of interest from inventors and investors alike.
In 2014, Lisbon became the first city in Europe to set aside EUR1 million for the development of start-up incubator networks in historic centres. The city is also home to the highest number of female start-up founders in Europe and the smallest gender pay-gap across the entire tech sector within the EU, demonstrating that it is possible for world-changing companies to exist away from established hubs and that previous models don’t need to be followed. Farfetch, the global online fashion retailer, was founded in the city and with over 150 incubators and accelerators established in Portugal, the country is heavily supporting the development of further talent.
The StartUP Visa progamme and Horizonte 2020, the EU’s largest investigation and innovation programme with EUR80 billion in funding, demonstrate the government’s focus on attracting investment, innovation and talented international entrepreneurs to its shores. ‘The idea that we want to promote is that we also have an economy based on knowledge and an entrepreneurial community that is growing. We’re attracting them [tech start-ups] for a lot of reasons: because we have a financing system, a very competitive fiscal setting for start-ups; but also because of the lifestyle and quality of life that entrepreneurs find here’, Portuguese Minister of the Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral has said.
Lisbon’s mix of old traditions and new innovation, together with a feeling that the future lies in this city, make it the most promising new tech city in Europe.
In the world of buy-to-let property investment there are some cities which have become consistent hotspots, drawing investors due to their strong economic performances, high yields, and unfailing supply/demand imbalances. These traditional investment hotspots, such as London, have ranked as top cities for global investors for years. However, political change brings uncertainty and Brexit has investors and companies looking at new and less traditional markets for their future potential.
Throughout my career working in international property investment, the UK market has always made a lot of sense for buy-to-let investments. While the market is still strong and can offer investors high yields, especially in the north, Brexit has been casting uncertainty on the industry. With negotiations being extended, it’s expected that companies with UK offices will discuss contingency plans and investors will be more open to exploring new markets.
These uncertainties and their effect on the UK property market were discussed in-depth at the annual MIPIM conference in Cannes this March. Both CBRE and London First spoke at the popular ‘Brexit: a new face for Europe’ seminar which touched on the topic of contingency plans and the fact that companies need the ability to attract and retain employees - something that can prove difficult in times of ambiguity. In order to do this both start-ups and established companies are looking at shifting their centers of operation to new markets in cities in mainland Europe and beyond where they can enjoy lower overheads, can be assured of the political climate, and can offer their employees all the advantages of living in a global city.
One new market that could benefit from these contingency plans in Lisbon, Portugal which has a vibrant economy and has been voted one of the safest countries in the world. There is a huge demand for housing for the middle class, both domestic and foreign, which was highlighted by Hugo Santos Ferreira (APPII) during MIPIM. This is a good problem to have from an investor perspective as it indicates a lack of supply of housing. In any market the study of the supply and demand imbalance is key. As an investor, I also find it very important to ensure that there’s demand from the domestic market in the long term as these are the people that a buy-to-let property will eventually be let to, especially when engaged in a long-term tenancy agreement.
Some of the other factors that we always consider before entering a new market are accessible to transportation and infrastructure. According to Brookfield Property Group, the commute between work and home shouldn’t be more than 20-30 minutes, which corresponds with our own advocacy of the concept of live-work-play. A buy-to-let investment property should offer tenants the ease of having short commutes to reach workplaces or services.
The availability and affordability of buy-to-let financing is also an extremely important component that we need to take into consideration before we enter a new market. Our database of investors is global and it’s often the case that our investors are purchasing a property that they will never visit, buying solely for investment purposes, either on the hunt for rental yields or a capital growth play. Unfortunately, when buy-to-let financing is unavailable for foreign investors or when financing is so expensive that it eats up all your rental income without offering high enough capital growth to make up for potential negatives in monthly cash flow, we can’t justify the market as a good investment location even if other variables are on point.
Another factor that needs careful consideration pertains to interest rates and potential rate rises as these will negatively impact investors' net monthly returns. We offset the risk of rate rises by identifying those markets that exhibit very strong yield returns, leaving our purchasers with an immediate positive net monthly cash flow and a buffer to weather changes in the economic market. In seeking these cities that offer very strong yield returns, we have focused our search on US markets, where several factors have led to the evolution of the property sector.
While at MIPIM, Cushman Wakefield participated in a panel discussion entitled ‘How shifting trends and new technologies are impacting the US property sector’ where job growth was presented as a key indicator of the potential of a property market. Brookfield Property Group also pointed to three trends which are signs of this potential: population growth, the rise of millennials, and growth of innovation and technology.
As IP Global is currently looking for a strong return in the US, we have been looking at these trends closely, in order to find locations that can offer growth potential for investors. We are also following advice given by Hines at MIPIM on ‘The rise of the rest’. This concept focuses on the expansion of cities and redefining core cities where we expect to see a growing population of millennials. With this in mind, IP Global is targeting US cities with young populations and industries, such as Minneapolis and Atlanta, the latter of which has been voted the most likely location for Amazon’s HQ2.
Any time that there are uncertainties in traditional property markets investors will look to new markets in order to find areas of opportunity. Due to the nature of Brexit and the questions that it has created, contingency plans are being made and new markets are being looked at for their investment potential. As a company, IP Global is keenly aware of this change in the directive and has continued to broaden our investment perspective accordingly.
By looking to new markets we can offer investors new opportunities, as they broaden their horizons past traditional hot-spots to cities that can offer them great future potential. After all, isn’t that the best possible outcome of any contingency plan?