Portugal’s investor visa is having some unintended consequences

Too much foreign investment in real estate is causing problems amid the country's recovery

(Credit: Max Pixel, Pixabay)
(Credit: Max Pixel, Pixabay)

Portugal’s reputation as a vacation spot and a deal for real estate investors has been steadily growing, but the dark side to its successful strategy is chaffing on locals.

Evictions of long-time residents are on the rise as foreign buyers and tourists flood the country, according to the New York Times. The 2011 lift of a rent freeze liberalized the market and so, in combination with Portugal’s program to offer property investors who pour in €500,000 or more a residency visa, prices have risen by about 50 percent over three years.

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“Portugal’s strategy to exit the crisis was all about attracting foreign investment, which solved a major financial problem but is also now creating new issues for our people, like this housing crisis in Lisbon,” university researcher Ana Drago told the Times.

However, Lisbon-based hotelier Luís Correia da Silva told the newspaper “people shouldn’t forget that nobody wanted to do anything to save these same neighborhoods a few years ago.”

As of 2011, before rental laws changed, of Lisbon’s nearly 323,000-unit housing stock, about 50,000 homes were vacant. Now, tourists outnumber residents by a ratio of eight to one, and about 30 hotels are supposed to come online in 2018. Last year, Portugal was listed as one of the top countries to buy real estate overseas. [NYT]Erin Hudson