House hunting in Portugal: a luminous retreat near the Atlantic coast

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This contemporary Villa sits on almost three hectares in the tourist town of Sintra, about three miles from the southwest coast of Portugal and about 25 miles west of Lisbon. Built in 2008 from concrete and glass, the approximately 10,700 square foot home features five bedrooms and five and a half baths, with natural light entering through floor-to-ceiling windows and doors.

The low-slung villa almost disappears into its surroundings, with three floors anchored by a central courtyard with a large solitary olive tree. From the driveway, the front door leads to an entrance hall with a shower room. Just beyond is the courtyard, visible through the glass walls. To the right is the open plan living room, with warm hued Brazilian oak floors, a view of the courtyard and doors that open onto the expansive terraces, swimming pool and gardens. The adjacent dining area opens onto a covered patio and barbecue area that connects to the pool terrace. The open-plan kitchen has a casual dining area and access to the garden.

To the left of the entrance are four bedrooms, each with sliding doors that open onto the pool. Three bedrooms share two bathrooms, while the master suite bathroom has a rain shower, large soaking tub, and a glass wall with garden views.

A mezzanine has areas for relaxation and entertainment including a TV room, seating areas and an office area. The basement is equipped for a versatile fitness and wellness program, with a gym, games room, indoor heated swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna. Outside, the 40-foot swimming pool is flanked on one side by a long terrace with lounge and dining area, and on the other by a lawn and landscaped garden.

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

“It’s a very unique place,” said Rafael Ascenso, general manager of Porta da Frente Christie’s, which has this list. “It is a paradise for those who love nature and love rugged beaches for windsurfing, surfing. It is the paradise of the bicycle.

Prior to the pandemic year of 2020, Portugal had seen house prices rise steadily for nearly a decade, in part thanks to the country’s Golden Visa program, which allows real estate investors to acquire residency and citizenship, and to its non-habitual resident program, which offers tax benefits to certain non-residents. That growth slowed as travel restrictions and border closures dampened demand, but overseas buyers looking to take advantage of the visa program kept the market active, agents and market experts said.

The median estimated value of homes across Portugal stood at 1,144 euros per square meter ($ 126 per square foot) in November 2020, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics. This marked a 6.3 percent year-over-year increase, notably down from the 11.1 percent growth in the previous year.

But in line with market growth and seller confidence, asking prices have been significantly higher. Idealistic, the Madrid-based property search portal, reported that the average asking price for a home in Portugal in March 2021 was 2,181 euros per square meter ($ 241 per square foot) – up from $ 129 per square foot there is five years old.

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

In 2020, “many investment buyers bought apartments off plan as rental investments or to ensure they get the golden visa” before it expires, said Oliver Banks, senior negotiator at Knight Frank.

Meanwhile, he added, the activity of domestic buyers “has increased as people reconsider their surroundings.”

Mr Ascenso, of Christie’s, said the pandemic “has affected our business, but we have sold a lot of properties remotely. Last week we sold a 4 million euro property with video conferencing. So it’s amazing how the market can adapt to these kinds of difficulties.

He is “optimistic” that when border restrictions end, buyers will act on properties they were looking at from afar.

In the Lisbon region, Idealista said the average asking price in March 2021 was 3,438 euros per square meter ($ 380 per square foot), up from $ 184 per square foot five years ago.

In the city center, homes in more expensive neighborhoods – especially Baixa and Chiado neighborhoods – sell for an average of 6,575 euros per square meter ($ 727 per square foot), said Patricia Casaburi, CEO of Global. Citizen Solutions, an investment migration firm. consulting firm. “Prices are rising rapidly. Rent prices in this area are also very high, which makes it a great place to invest, ”she said.

She also highlighted two “booming” neighborhoods, Marvila and Beato, formerly industrial areas which now have “a number of creative spaces and industries, as well as microbreweries, and can be a good choice when It is about investing in property in Lisbon.

Mr Banks noted that the new developments underway will also favor buyers. Lisbon sees smaller boutique developments of 10 to 20 homes, he said, with developers “having to work hard to make sure their development stands out.” The result is better construction and finishes, and more amenities.

At the high end, Mr Ascenso called the market ‘stable’, after five years of rising prices and demand, with Lisbon’s suburbs (especially Sintra, Estoril and Cascais) being more in demand than the center. city, “because people are now looking for more space, more outdoor space.

Mr. banks said 40% of Lisbon’s market is made up of international buyers, “usually from Brazil, Britain, Ireland and France”.

Last year there was a sharp increase in buyers from the United States’ While other European countries have experienced harsher shutdowns or more insecurity, economic or physical (or both, for example France or Great Britain with the economic uncertainty of Brexit), those living in the United States (not necessarily Americans) who sought to return to Europe chose Portugal instead of their country of origin, ”he said. -he declares.

Ms Casaburi said that since 2015, around 5,000 US buyers have moved to Portugal, including 1,115 in 2020. During the pandemic, many have been drawn to the country’s “quality health system”.

Mr. Ascenso also noted a spike in US buyers. “It was something that had never happened before. This is new to us, “he said.” This demand is increasing every month.

Real estate ownership by foreigners is not restricted in Portugal, said João G. Gil Figueira, partner at the Lisbon-based law firm GFDL lawyers.

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

Foreigners, especially those making their first purchase in Portugal, should hire a lawyer to draft 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 modified, he added.

Mr Banks said the properties are sold in euros. “It is important,” he said, “because currency plays an important role in the investment of international buyers.”

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

Portuguese; euro (1 euro = $ 1.19)

The annual property tax on this house is 1,300 euros ($ 1,550), Mr. Ascenso said.

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

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