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Posted by portugalpress on May 18, 2017
One of the Cerro Novo stands at SIPP Paris: Algarve lawyer Dra Matilde Ferreira, Albufeira mayor Carlos Silva e Sousa, Ana Penisga Amorim of Cerro Novo, president of the Algarve tourism board Desidério Silva, and Helen Azevedo of Cerro Novo
The seminar sessions at the Moving to Portugal event at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London were full to capacity, with close to 500 people in total attending
Zoie Hawker on the Fine & Country stand at A Place in the Sun Live with Algarve lawyer Pedro Rosado.

London and Paris property events have seen unprecedented level of interest in emigrating to Portugal. The Resident spoke to property professionals who attended the events over the past two weeks and all are unanimous in their opinion that we are seeing a boom in demand from buyers who are selling their primary residence and upping roots to come and live in Portugal.

Brexit fears and the reduced strength of sterling continue to worry some UK buyers but it is the very thought of Brexit that is driving many UK nationals to consider emigrating. And Portugal’s NRH tax regime is making the country the most appealing option for many. The French market on the other hand is back on track after Macron’s win settles jitters in the market.

These trends were confirmed at the events that took place recently, starting with the ‘A Place in the Sun’ exhibition at London Olympia from May 4 to 7, followed by the ‘Moving to Portugal’ seminar day at Lord’s Cricket Ground on May 10 and the Portuguese property and tourism exhibition in Paris last weekend.

The number of exhibitors at ‘A Place in the Sun’ was considerably down on last year, with the upper-floor mezzanine section of London Olympia closed off and all exhibitors located on the main ground-floor level. Overall, visitor numbers were also down by around 1,000 compared to last year at 7,458, but this resulted in a far higher number of visitors per exhibitor, many of whom were clearly interested in Portugal.

There were just 12 Portuguese estate agencies exhibiting as well as one Algarve property development (Castro Marim) and numerous international agents offering Portugal alongside other countries. This was a tiny proportion of the overall exhibition, dwarfed as always by almighty Spain. But the Portuguese presence was tangible and all of the Algarve agents we spoke to were “extremely happy” with the quantity and especially the quality of visitors.

We spoke with Robert Edwards of Albufeira-based estate agency Cerro Novo. An old hand with over 20 years’ experience in international property exhibitions, Robert has attended the exhibitions organised by ‘A Place in the Sun’ since the very first show in 2005, carrying on exhibiting all through the years of the financial crises.

“This was an excellent show,” said Robert. “We have seen the demand change slowly over the years at this and similar shows, from the traditional holiday home buyer to people who are now seriously considering moving to Portugal.

Many of them are selling up lock-stock-and-barrel in the UK in order to relocate.”

Robert and other exhibitors confirmed that whilst there is still demand from holiday home buyers, the majority of potential clients visiting their stand this year were looking to move to Portugal. “These customers also tend to have considerably higher budgets than holiday home buyers,” said Robert, “which is understandable considering that they are selling their primary residence”.

Other exhibitors we spoke to, such as Fine & Country Algarve, reported a marked improvement in the quality of sales leads taken from the show. “We had more potential clients with over £500,000 to spend than we did in the lower price ranges,” said Zoie Hawker. “This is very unusual for one of these shows and we were very pleasantly surprised to speak with numerous people selling up in the UK with over £1 million to spend on a place in the Algarve.”

The Resident also spoke with Portuguese lawyers and financial services companies such as Blevins Franks who were exhibiting at the event and all reported a similar increase in the numbers of serious customers looking to move to Portugal.

As Robert Edwards neatly summed up, “it seems that the Brits have finally woken up to the benefits of Portugal’s NHR (Non Habitual Residency) tax scheme. Until recently, it has been mostly the French and Scandinavians taking up NHR; the Brits tended to think it was too good to be true, but now it seems the word is out. Most people visiting our stand already knew about the tax benefits and it was more a case of deciding on what part of Portugal or the Algarve to settle in.”

‘Moving to Portugal’ seminar exceeds all expectations

Just a few days after ‘A Place in the Sun’, the ‘Moving to Portugal’ seminar day took place, also in London.

This was the second such event organised by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in London and was sponsored by a small group of companies, each offering a different service; Blevins Franks (tax and financial planning), Premier FX (foreign exchange), Edge Lawyers (legal) and Fine & Country Algarve (real estate).

The first show held last November attracted some 100 people whilst this event attracted close to 500. Demand was such that the organisers split the seminar into three sessions taking place in the morning, afternoon and early evening. The seminars included a presentation from each of the participating companies after which guests visited an exhibition area.

“The number of people attending and the level of genuine interest exceeded all of our expectations,” said Peter Rexstrew of Premier FX. “There are still concerns regarding the weakness of sterling but our services can remove a lot of the risks, likewise when we explain how the current exchange rate is actually a great deal better than a few years ago when we nearly reached parity. People seem confident enough to put these concerns aside.”

Geoffrey Graham of Edge Lawyers was equally impressed. “People were literally queuing up to talk with us,” he said. “It was clear that they were very serious about moving to Portugal and we had our hands full for the whole day.”

Gavin Scott of Blevins Franks commented on the change in attitude regarding Brexit when compared to events he attended in the UK last year. “Even those people seriously opposed to Brexit seem now to be resigned to the fact that it is a reality,” said Gavin. “They are now realising that even in the face of Britain’s exit from the EEC, there is currently nothing to stop them from moving to Portugal and enjoying the tax benefits of the NHR regime. Even post-Brexit, the fact is that British nationals live in countries all around the world and we hope to see free movement of UK citizens around Europe. But even in the worst case scenario, it should be no more difficult for a British national to reside in Portugal than in any non EEC country”.

Richard Lamberth of Fine & Country Algarve told us how this event is further proof that the UK market still holds huge untapped potential for Portugal in terms of real estate investment. “Portugal is in a unique position to attract British nationals who are looking to relocate within Europe. This event was a great success and all of the companies that took part are extremely grateful to Christina Hippisley and her team at the Portuguese Chamber for organising and promoting it so effectively,” said Richard.

French invasion set to continue

Estate agents along the Algarve reported a slight slowdown in the French market during the months leading up to the election. Although Marine Le Pen’s chances were slim at best, the remote prospect of a Frexit saw many French buyers waiting in the sidelines.

The timing of the election, however, could not have been better for the organisers of SIPP (Salon de l’Immobilier et Tourisme Portugais). “Macron’s win has effectively removed the jitters from the market,” said Robert Edwards of Cerro Novo whose company exhibited at the show, hot on the heels of ‘A Place in the Sun’.

The exhibition took place from May 11 to 13 and attracted a total of 16,108 visitors, almost double the amount of ‘A Place in the Sun’ for what is a show entirely dedicated to Portugal.

Emmanuelle Deschamps of Fine & Country Tavira told us how she was particularly impressed by the wide-ranging interest of visitors in different parts of Portugal. “I know that my French compatriots love the eastern Algarve where I am located,” said Emmanuelle, “but we saw just as much interest for other parts of the Algarve as well as in Lisbon, Porto and lesser-known parts of the country, such as Comporta.”

Portugal is clearly in fashion in France, a fact that is reflected in the huge growth in tourism numbers over recent years. The vast majority of French buyers are attracted by the benefits of the NHR tax regime, especially retirees who can enjoy their pensions tax free for 10 years.