Updated: October 26, 2023

Important Update on the Portugal Golden Visa: October 2023

The Portugal Golden Visa program has recently undergone substantial changes. The new legislation is now in effect, and it’s crucial to note that real estate investments are no longer a valid qualifying option within the program.

However, several attractive investment routes still maintain their eligibility for the program. Please refer to this comprehensive guide by our residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions: Portugal Golden Visa Ultimate Guide.

While it is no longer possible to invest in commercial property for the Golden Visa, investing in commercial property is an attractive option, given the strong tourism sector in Portugal.

In this article, we will provide some insights into investing in commercial property in Portugal.

 

The Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa has established itself as one of the most popular investment schemes of its kind since it was launched in 2012. The residency by investment program provides investors with the opportunity to secure residency in Portugal in return for a qualifying investment. 

Important note: The Portugal Golden Visa real estate option is no longer available to investors as of legislation that came into force on 7 October 2023. 

However, there remain several investment options on the table.

If you are interested in the Golden Visa Program, our residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions, would be happy to discuss your options with you. You can get in touch with them today.

Their Ultimate Guide to the Golden Visa is your comprehensive guide to the program.

Background to the Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa has generated more than €7 billion since its launch in 2012. This is a testament to the popularity of the program. Investors from the world over have invested in the country in return for a residency permit and a whole host of benefits. 

Significant advantages of the Golden Visa program include a short-stay requirement, the ability to live in a stunning Mediterranean country with a high quality of life, significant tax advantages for foreign investors, and the fact that you can include your family members in the application. Portugal is also ranked as the seventh most peaceful country in the world, according to the 2023 Global Peace Index, and has progressive legislation, other crucial factors why individuals worldwide are flocking to Portugal. 

What’s more, it is also possible to obtain permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship after five years. To secure Portuguese citizenship, you will need to maintain your investment for five years and fulfill all the requirements under Portuguese nationality law, including taking a basic Portuguese language test and having a clean criminal record. With visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to 174 countries and the ability to live, work, and study in a European Union (EU) country, holding a Portuguese passport has a lot of perks. 

 

Investing in Commercial Property

Commercial real estate as a whole includes businesses, retail, and offices. Under the bracket of commercial property, you also have tourism real estate, which could be an excellent option for investors – particularly in Portugal, where tourism is a cornerstone of the economy. Tourism real estate refers to properties related to hospitality, such as service apartments, condominium resorts, and hotel projects

Regarding tourism real estate, you need to comply with the Tourism of Portugal, which regulates the tourism market. 

Hotel Investment Schemes

Hotel investment schemes include projects in the hospitality sector. For example, turning a palace into a boutique hotel, creating an eco-friendly hotel, or doing up a run-down building to provide a place for tourists to stay. 

This option provides investors with the ability to co-invest. The mindset of hotel investment schemes is often owning a piece of the real estate, a fraction of the whole unit, as opposed to owning the whole property. 

It is important to do extra due diligence and proceed with the help of experienced lawyers to ensure that everything is in order. 

Hotel projects are also often hands-off, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. You may not have such a voice in how things proceed, but at the same time, you will not have to be directly managing the project. Another disadvantage of hotel projects is that they are not free-hold, and you cannot liquidate your investment. If you work with other investors on the project, important decisions will also depend on their input. 

Rental Properties

The key difference between commercial and residential properties is that commercial properties are born to serve as business opportunities.

For example, an Airbnb can be a residential property you want to rent for part of the year to generate income. For example, you can go to the city hall and request a license to run an Airbnb. For commercial real estate, the mindset behind buying the property is almost exclusively to generate income. The examples below will provide you with further clarification on the topic. 

Serviced apartments

Properties such as serviced apartments are strictly commercial and are an option for those with no intention to live in the property. Buying a property to rent out to a student in student dormitories would be an example. 

When it comes to serviced apartments, you can buy the property as a whole or a unit – for example, a set of student apartments or just one unit and the size of serviced apartments will vary from place to place. However, it is more common to have smaller properties (such as studios and one-bedroom apartments).

Properties with serviced apartments are often designed with students in mind – or, increasingly, digital nomads looking for co-living spaces – and will have a living space, kitchen, common areas, working areas, etc.). An example is student accommodation for universities. Apartments will range in size, but it is more common to find smaller properties available on the market.

Most serviced apartments are located in bigger cities, such as Lisbon and Porto, but also in university cities, such as Aveiro and Coimbra. You will also find rental properties and serviced apartments that cater to tourists in tourist hotspots, such as the Algarve. 

Pros of serviced apartments

  • There is a high demand for both students and tourists in Portugal
  • Some serviced apartments and rental properties will have high flexibility in how much you can use the property, but this will vary. This is also a con of this investment type. 

Cons of serviced apartments 

  • Some serviced apartments and rental properties will have low flexibility in how much you can use the property, but this will vary. This is also a pro of this Portugal property investment type. 
  • You will need to keep up to speed with the operator regarding the regulations in place. 

Condominium resorts

For condominium resorts – also referred to as condominium infrastructure, such as golf resorts – you will need to buy a unit or share of the whole asset. There will be apartments that are designated for living, but also facilities, such as pools and clubhouses, for communal use. 

To provide you with a clear example, Pestana is a hotel and resort operator. For their resorts, they keep the gardens in order, make sure the swimming pools are treated, that there is a level of security, and there is a cleaning service at the resort. There will be people living at the resort or renting the apartment out. It is these apartments that investors can invest in and rent out. 

The main difference between commercial and residential is that serviced properties need to have a contract with the operator, such as a management company, and they will take a share of the rental revenue. 

When it comes to the size of condominium resorts, they are usually bigger than serviced apartments and can be from one-bedroom up to three-to-four-bedroom apartments. 

Pros of Condominium resorts:

  • The flexibility of use: As long as you pay condominium fees (higher than in other properties), you can use it the entire year. This will, however, depend from place to place, and we recommend getting expert assistance to ensure that this commercial property qualifies for the Portugal Golden Visa. 
  • Maintenance throughout the year: You will not need to worry about ensuring that there is a cleaning service or that the swimming pool is taken care of. These will be maintained by the management company. 

Cons of condominium resorts:

  • Lack of independence in managing the property yourself: You rely on the management company (such as Pestana) and cannot make significant changes, such as on the interior of the property, although this can vary from place to place. Usually, there will need to be a similarity between the rental units.

 

Where are the best locations to buy commercial real estate?

Some of the best places for locations to make a commercial real estate investment are the following: 

Algarve – Condominium, serviced apartments, hotel projects

Lisbon – Serviced apartments, hotel projects

Porto – Serviced apartments, hotel projects

 

Goldcrest: Who We Are and How We Can Help You

Buying commercial property is an excellent option for investors, and there are many investment options on the table. Also, placing your money in brick-and-mortar is always of value, and investing in real estate is an intelligent investment option. 

Goldcrest is a local buyer’s agent that provides insightful real estate expertise and strategic advice. From sourcing to property acquisition, we offer a tailor-made service for our clients, assisting them in identifying outstanding investment opportunities in some of Portugal’s finest locations, from relocation to investment projects. 

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Remember, while it is no longer possible to invest in real estate for the Golden Visa, there remain many other routes on the table. Get in touch with Global Citizen Solutions, our residency and citizenship division, to discuss your options.

Frequently Asked Questions about Buying Commercial Property for the Portugal Golden Visa

Where to buy in Portugal for the Golden Visa?

As of 7 October 2023, it is no longer possible to invest in real estate and qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa.

Starting from 7 October 2023, it is no longer viable to pursue real estate investments as a means to meet the eligibility criteria for the Portugal Golden Visa.

From October 7, 2023, investing in real estate no longer qualifies for the Portugal Golden Visa program.

The Golden Visa real estate option has historically been the most popular investment pathway. However, as of 7 October 2023, the option to invest in real estate no longer meets the criteria for obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa.