How Covid-19 is affecting property buying patterns in Portugal

 In Development, Hotel, Investment, News, Real Estate

In Part II of the Essential Business report into Portugal’s residential housing market in a Covid and post-Covid world, the CEO of Savills Portugal, Patrícia de Melo e Liz and CEO of the Elegant Group, Chitra Stern share their experiences with American Club of Lisbon members and associates of what overseas home buyers are looking for in Portugal

Open space, far from crowded city-centres, we are told is now at a new premium when looking to buy a home. A Home should offer distance from neighbours, gardens with generous proportions and in-house offices which are now an obligatory requirement when it comes to overseas citizens buying a property in Portugal.

Savills CEO, Patrícia de Melo e Liz has noted that living patterns have “changed significantly” over the past few months, but these changes are likely to be less significant and long-lasting in terms of an impact on the future of property buying patterns.
But what Savills has been seeing lately are international families moving from the city, particularly from Lisbon, to the surrounding areas.
“We have been advising and helping overseas buyers who have an intention to move out of the busy city area to quieter areas. We already have a big international community living in Cascais, but there are residents living in Lisbon city centre zones like Avenida da Liberdade and Amoreiras and we have seen some interest from these residents in buying villas outside Lisbon,” said the Savills CEO.
However, Patricia de Melo e Liz does not see this shift as a “radical change in the property buying habits of overseas residents” living in Portugal. “We are social human beings and actual contact is a need. However, we are seeing some move towards resort communities in what had initially been a tentative intention to becoming a much stronger intention to buy and move.”
This kind of residential resort provides a certain “trust and confidence” offering a “different lifestyle approach” and this trend for diversity in lifestyle patterns will also continue. Cities will remain popular, however, particularly as they become more sustainable because of the vast array of amenities and lifestyle choices they offer.
In Portugal, because most cities are smaller in comparison to other large European metropolises, the lifestyle tends to be more relaxed and the cities are not so crowded. “You can live a very pleasant and relaxed lifestyle in our cities in Portugal,” she said.
“We’ve had to make some significant leaps in technology use during the pandemic, where people have had to work from home and undertake video meetings and teleworking. I believe that this means it is easier to live outside main cities and in many cases work in the same way as if you had been living inside the cities,” remarks Patricia de Melo e Liz.
The Savills CEO points out that what she has noticed is a growth of interest in buying a property in the regions south of Lisbon up to 100 km distance, in places such as Comporta and Alcacer do Sal, where some families will buy their first or second homes.
“Covid crystallised some consistencies in an interest to buy and buying patterns that we were already seeing, and now buyers know that they can stay safer by living outside cities,” Patrícia de Melo e Liz concludes.

Serviced living

Chitra Stern is CEO of the Elegant Group which owns and manages the Martinhal Residences, which is a branded hotel and residences concept. Already common in cities like São Paulo, Miami and New York, the concept involves a hotel on the lower floors of the development and residential apartments on the upper floors.
Chita Stern notes that Lisbon is an amazing capital but a small city compared to London or New York.
“We’re seeing people investing in Martinhal residences from 20 different nationalities, who are moving from larger metropolises to Lisbon which is a European capital and yet a small enough capital with all the amenities and comforts of a fantastic city,” she says.
Chitra Stern has found that their top overseas investors are Americans, Russians, Brazilians, those from Hong Kong, and South Africans plus 15 other nationalities.
“We can see that people are moving from larger cities, and in terms of this movement in a post-Covid world, people have had time to reflect during the lockdown about what is important for life and their working patterns, and have been choosing to move to Lisbon,” says the Elegant Group CEO.
“For them, it represents a change in lifestyle, but with all the great things that Lisbon has to offer. Martinhal Residences, specifically, apart from being a great riverside residence (it is located in the East Lisbon Parque das Nações district) within fantastic urban planning, people are seeking serviced living, with a 24 hour concierge offering all the services you need from baby sitting and dry cleaning to high-quality internet services in what is heavily serviced living which discerning buyers often look for today,” said Chitra Stern.
Chitra Stern explains that while you might have the movement of families to out of town locations, for families with children who are still of a school going age, being close to an international school is very important for these overseas families.
Another phenomena Chitra Stern is noticing at Martinhal Residences, one which has not been seen by her before, is the concept of ‘trying out’ the lifestyle through extended stays.
“We’ve had people living here for a year, sending their children to school during period, and renting long term, while looking for places to buy, and this didn’t used to happen so much in the past,” concludes Chitra Stern.