Northern Portuguese Villas Make Algarve Properties Look Like a Houses of Cards

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Minho Villas offers an investment alternative in the north of Portugal to the possibly burnt out and overpriced Algarve. Various key and coincidental factors including the Maddie McCann episode and Portuguese property market as a whole potentially equate to negative balance sheet potential for new buyers on the south coast. While other areas of Portugal, especially the northern border with booming Galicia (Spain), could see a 360% return in just 10 years according to British Channel 4.

Is the Algarve property investment market about to burst or already bursting despite the well polished real estate sales industry's best efforts? Portugal as a whole is widely cited as being the best property investment country in western Europe, however conditions for the Algarve are looking a little shaky. Minho Villas is a sales site for one of the most prestigious "quinta" villas on the northern border with Spain and offers a very different real estate investment opportunity to the Algarve. Along with the Silver Coast further south, the Green Coast (Costa Verde) was singled out for potentially high investment returns by British Channel 4's popular holiday home program "A Place In The Sun" in 2007.

Citing recent articles and blogs, such as, warning potential investors of the likely risks of investing in Algarve real estate, Minho Villas claims it has something much better to offer. Minho Villas does not just offer its own property but provides sound advice as it warns the Portuguese system of the buyer and seller appointing the same lawyer is often abused by the seller, who generally recommends which lawyer is used, in that what the buyer actually pays is too seldom declared on the registration documents filed with the town hall in order that the seller pays less tax. With so much money being paid for real estate in the south, the consequences are considerable. Of course the problem or issue exists country wide, but with the Algarve the numbers are much greater.

According to the Instituto Nacional de Estatística de Portugal, people are having to pay around €4,000 per sq. m. without any grounds to speak of to buy anything in the Algarve. In contrast, the very best traditionally built quinta (main countryside residence) right on / overlooking on the River Minho with substantial grounds and private slipway costs less than €3,500 per sq. m. Modern villas around the Minho comparable with those found on the Algarve in terms of construction and grounds are under half that price of those in the south. With Galicia Spain, the other side of the river, having the current highest yearly percentage price increases for the whole Iberian Peninsula (source: Banco de España), and with the new high speed train network covering Valenca (Portugal) and Vigo (Spain) by the end of 2010, plus nearby ferry ports to the UK, it does not take much to realize where the investment potential really lies.

The Algarve investment real estate sales pitch is looking very thin these days. Respectable real estate agents Winkworth told the British "Independent" newspaper as long ago as November 2005 that "There are areas where you can still get in at a good price and where you definitely won't lose money", which is hardly the enthusiastic bullet proof investment line of most Algarve realtors and indicates breaking even is the best many people can hope for. Of course buying a property which does not appreciate much in value can still be a good investment if the holiday letting yields are good, but with an already noticeable backlash by the holidaying European public over what they see as the wholly unacceptable treatment of Madeleine McCann's parents and the fact the Algarve is no longer consequentially considered a safe family destination, this is not such a bankable commodity as it once was on Portugal's south coast. With vagrants targeting an area rich with high value homes, the Algarve seems to becoming a victim of it own success; try finding a vagrant targeting foreigners in other areas of Portugal though and you will be hard pushed.

Minho Villas is the sales site for one particular riverfront and beach (Praia Fluvial) front villa in the Costa Verde ("green coast") border region with Spain, plus has some land plots on offer. The quinta it markets at 1.75 million Euros is not exactly small change but they say "Just look what you get for the money in comparison with the Algarve and then tell us it is a lot of money!". Minho Villas also serves as a reference site for an area with scant information available in English on the Internet, including links to other Portuguese and Spanish real estate sites for the area offering much more modest properties.


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Mark Austin

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