According to a report by Portugal's association of estate agents, one in five homes was sold to a foreigner in 2014. While the Chinese clientele is declining, the number of French people settling here has exploded.
The real estate market Portuguese is as attractive as ever to foreigners. More than one in five homes in 2014, or 23,000 houses and apartments, were sold to foreigners. British buyers were the most numerous, followed by Chinese and French, according to a provisional balance sheet provided by the Portuguese Association of Estate Agents.
"Real estate market growth reached between 9 and 15% in 2014. If it hadn't been for the Banco Espirito Santo debacle and the 'gold' visa affair, we would have reached 25%," estimates its president Luis Lima.
Since the end of 2012, Portugal has been offering applicants from outside the European Union who are willing to pay 500,000 euros for a home a "gold" visa, the sesame that opens the doors to Europe. To qualify, applicants must also invest one million euros or create ten jobs. By the end of 2014, a total of 2,022 residence permits, representing an investment of 1.2 billion euros, had been granted.
However, these visas for wealthy foreigners took a serious blow after the arrest in November of eleven people, including high-ranking officials, in an investigation into corruption and money laundering. As a result, the number of visitors from the Middle Kingdom has dropped.
Conversely, the number of French people moving to Portugal has "exploded". Portugal has even dethroned Morocco as the preferred destination for French retirees, with 3,680 acquiring property there last year.