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Investments in the real estate market in times of COVID-19

Investments in the real estate market in times of COVID-19

Ricardo Costa explains why the houses for sale in Porto and the Algarve continue to attract foreign investors despite the difficult times.



The Portuguese real estate market resists the crisis unexpectedly caused by the covid-19 pandemic continues to grow, mainly because of the unshakeable interest of foreigners in our country. Investors continue to look properties in regions as attractive as Porto, North of Portugal and The Algarve. This is witnessed by Ricardo Costa, CEO of LUXIMOS Christie's International Real Estate.


"In fact, Portugal continues to have properties that are highly desired by investors," he confirmed, acknowledging that his company has seen an increase in market share, even in adverse times. Brazilians, Americans and Asians are among the nationalities that most seek Portugal to live or invest. Recently, the Banco de Portugal also confirmed this trend: in May, two months after the global covid-19 pandemic was diagnosed, the market showed a revitalisation that few expected, reveals the economic bulletin of the institution. In the same month, the sale of homes in Portugal increased by 23% and the price of housing rose by 0.9% compared with the previous month. Last year, international investors were responsible for 78% of the amount invested in real estate.


The reasons are widely known, Ricardo Costa, who has been working in the mediation of luxury properties for almost two decades. "Portugal leads all the important world rankings, having surpassed the destinations that previously figured in the guide of the most sought after to invest, live and rest, such as the south of France and the south of Italy, in Europe; and Miami, in American Florida".


Related article: World press elects Portugal to live after the pandemic


Investment in technology has reduced the negative impact

However, physical limitations, notably the temporary impossibility to travel between countries, imposed by the need to contain the contamination of the new coronavirus, could have led to a stagnation or contraction in the number of visits to buildings, the signing of contracts or deeds. In the specific case of LUXIMOS Christie's Porto and Algarve offices, this did not happen because of the investment the company made several years ago in the digital and technological area. "The accompaniment of clients at a distance is also nothing new for LUXIMOS Christie's, given our volume of international clients who come to Portugal, often at the time of the deed and only then do they know the property physically", explains the entrepreneur.

"We made a very clear bet on digital, which makes our teams perfectly capable and trained in this field", praises Ricardo Costa. This anticipation made it relatively simple to adapt to the now called new normal. "We have reorganised very quickly to provide our internal public - consultants, marketing teams, processes and administration - with the necessary tools to reinforce distance working. This has mitigated any putative negative impact". The main beneficiary is, as we assume, the client. "On the one hand, we carried out distance visits through videoconferencing platforms. On the other hand, the contracts and deeds were carried out in person, following the recommendations of the Directorate General of Health (DHS) to contain the spread of the virus".


The change of house profile sought by investors


If from the bureaucratic point of view Ricardo Costa did not feel great changes, since he mitigated them by anticipation, already in the type of demand made by investors, not only international but also national, he felt a great evolution. "In Portugal, property buyers are opting for larger houses, with more green areas, more outdoor spaces, such as balconies or terraces, and more equipment, such as swimming pools and gyms - or space to install them".



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The change is not surprising, revealing above all a demand that has come to stay, which the CEO of LUXIMOS Christie's sums up in a lapidary sentence: "Our home should increasingly be our shelter, without this implying a decrease in the quality of daily life". Whether it is the increasing use of teleworking or an imperative need for health protection, it is very clear that everyone around the world will spend more time at home. And this can never be confused with a curtailment of freedom or with any feeling of deprivation. Hence the need for larger, greener houses, with better views and closer to the sea and sea walks.


Ricardo Costa gives two distinct examples of social behaviour in two different regions of Portugal: "In Porto, whose most disputed area to live in and invest in continues to be the west, as it faces the Atlantic Ocean and the Douro River, there is a greater demand for larger, more elegant houses, with larger gardens and often swimming pools, to ensure the quality of life and privacy of families". However, he says, this profile has long set the standard for the Algarve. "The region has a very wide range of high standard properties, along the approximately 150 Km of coast. The terrace, patio, balcony or garden have long been part of the priorities of those who invest in the most southern region of the country".


It remains to be seen if the pandemic could affect property prices. "It is possible that the Covid-19 outbreak will bring a softening of prices in some locations and especially in the middle residential segment, since the luxury market remains solid, traditionally a range with a certain immunity to crises. However, these effects will depend on how intensely the pandemic affects us in the coming months," he concludes.



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