No-one can truly predict what the future holds, but for those in the international property sector it is certainly possible to make informed projections based on their experience of the market and their knowledge of key influencing factors.
• Visa-free access to Schengen Zone countries granted to Emiratis
• Struggling Euro makes Portuguese property prices tempting
• Algarve property prices tipped by RICS/Ci to grow by 3% this year
In Portugal, Founding Director of boutique real estate agency Ideal Homes Portugal, Chris White, has been engaging in a spot of well-informed crystal ball gazing in order to see what may be in store for the country's property market, particularly in the holiday paradise hotspot of the Algarve. He comments,
"It's important to anticipate upcoming trends and changes in the market when you work in the property sector, so that you can be sure that you have the right properties in the right areas on your books. Things like the introduction of the golden visa scheme can have a marked impact on the market and if your stock consists entirely of one bedroom apartments inland, when a surge of Chinese buyers are looking for high end properties on the coast, then you're going to miss out."
Portugal's property market has certainly benefited from Chinese investment, with the latest RICS/Ci market report noting 14 consecutive months of rising agreed sale numbers. The Algarve in particular has shown strong growth and is tipped to achieve growth of 3% in the year ahead, against a national average of 2%.
But keeping an eye on this kind of market data is just the tip of the iceberg, points out Chris White.
"Stats on the performance of the prices and agreed sale numbers are really useful, but they have to be combined with an understanding of the local market. That means having a feel for the confidence that exists locally and being ahead of the game in terms of planned improvements to infrastructures. A new supermarket or glitzy hotel, for example, can push prices up by making an area more attractive, while new roads or rail connections can do so by making it more accessible.
"Then there are general factors to consider that affect the whole of a region, such as more flight routes being added to the local airport. Finally there are the country-wide considerations. In Portugal right now that means the extension of visa-free access to visitors from the United Arab Emirates."
With current exchange rates tempting many investors to look closely at European second homes overseas, the granting of visa-free access to Emiratis wishing to visit the Schengen zone might just be the icing on the cake that opens up the Portuguese market to buyers from the UAE.
"It's a market that you would be remiss to ignore," concludes Chris. "We're lining up a few ultra luxury, characterful properties with pools, ready to see what the future holds."
Keeping abreast of future market developments, backed by excellent customer service, is certainly a model that is proving successful for Ideal Homes Portugal. So much so, in fact, that the company has just been awarded the Rightmove Mystery Shopper Award, beating more than 100 other Portuguese real estate providers.