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Real Estate

09 December 2013

Golden visas in Portugal & Spain 

In desperate need of buyers for premium homes built before the housing boom went bust, Portugal and Spain are issuing “golden visas” that offer wide travel privileges to non-Europeans who purchase properties above a certain price level.

Buyers from Russia, China and the Middle East are taking advantage of the opportunity to spend at least €500,000 on a property and earn the right to stay in Portugal or Spain – as well as to travel throughout most of Europe.  

Owners of vacation homes in Portugal’s Algarve southern coastal region not only enjoy access to Europe’s favored tourist locales, the shopping, culture and business of Barcelona and Madrid, but also can also send their children to the continent’s top universities.

More than 300 property investors have pumped €200 million into Portugal’s economy through the golden visa program since it was launched in 2012. Spain launched a similar program this year.

Other European nations have joined the trend: Greece will offer visas with properties of €550,000 and above, while Malta will grant citizenship to those who spend more than €650,000.

The golden visas issued by Spain and Portugal allow travel throughout the 26 nations that make up the Schengen Area, which includes most of the EU and some other countries such as Switzerland, although not the UK or Ireland. Buyers in Portugal must spend at least seven days a year in that country to benefit from the program; Spain requires one visit per year.

Some of these buyers are looking to diversify their investment portfolios; others may enjoy exchange-rate benefits by owning eurozone properties. Whatever their motivation, they are also providing a lifeline to countries with real estate sectors badly in need of buyers.