A PLACE IN THE SUN­SHINE

Wealthy South Africans look to buy prop­erty in Cyprus and Por­tu­gal as a way to be granted EU cit­i­zen­ship

Saturday Star - - HOME - By Bonny Fourie

THE REPUB­LIC of Cyprus has joined coun­tries such as Por­tu­gal in at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of wealthy South Africans look­ing to buy prop­erty abroad as a means to gain Euro­pean Union cit­i­zen­ship.

The pri­mary aim of such buy­ers is to en­able their chil­dren to gain ease of ac­cess to study and work abroad, and travel freely in Europe.

This move also as­sists fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in their fam­i­lies, says Chris Im­mel­man, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Pam Gold­ing In­ter­na­tional.

He says an off­shore in­vest­ment in a sta­ble coun­try is an ideal way to di­ver­sify a prop­erty port­fo­lio, and the is­land of Cyprus in the Mediter­ranean of­fers con­sid­er­able op­por­tu­ni­ties to ac­com­plish this.

For an in­vest­ment of €2mil­lion (about R29.9m), buy­ers can ac­quire full EU cit­i­zen­ship for their fam­i­lies in four to six months.

Im­mel­man says there is also the op­por­tu­nity to dis­in­vest af­ter three years by selling the prop­erty, pro­vided an amount of €500 000 is rein­vested into the coun­try.

A Cypriot pass­port also al­lows visa-free travel to 159 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong, Canada and the UK.

“How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Ex­pat In­sider 2017, Por­tu­gal still of­fers the best qual­ity of life on the planet, with beau­ti­ful sur­rounds, friendly peo­ple, good food, as well as ex­cel­lent health­care and world-class uni­ver­si­ties, mak­ing the tran­si­tion to life there even eas­ier.

"We con­tinue to see a huge up­take in prop­erty in Por­tu­gal, with South Africans rid­ing the wave of prop­erty buy­ers in Lis­bon, where they en­joy sig­nif­i­cant growth in the value of their port­fo­lios as the prop­erty mar­ket is boom­ing, with de­mand sig­nif­i­cantly out­weigh­ing sup­ply.”

To ben­e­fit from Por­tu­gal’s Golden Visa Pro­gramme with the op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for res­i­dency, Im­mel­man says for­eign buy­ers MUST in­vest a min­i­mum of €500 000. Per­ma­nent res­i­dency is achiev­able in year six and cit­i­zen­ship in year seven.

Por­tu­gal has rel­a­tively low tax rates of about 20% and no wealth or in­her­i­tance tax or tax on over­seas pen­sions.

Ge­orge Rad­ford, di­rec­tor for Africa at IP Global, also be­lieves Lis­bon has what it takes to at­tract in­vestors: “Lis­bon has a vi­brant econ­omy and was voted one of the safest places to live.”

He says there is grow­ing de­mand for ac­com­mo­da­tion for Lis­bon’s mid­dle class, which is good for in­vestors as it shows that de­mand out­strips sup­ply.

But in­vestors need to en­sure there is longterm do­mes­tic de­mand for rental units and easy ac­cess to pub­lic trans­port. A buy-to-let in­vest­ment prop­erty should of­fer ten­ants the ease of hav­ing short com­mutes to get to work and life­style ameni­ties.

“In­vestors must also keep an eye on the po­ten­tial in­crease in a coun­try’s in­ter­est rate that could im­pact a home­owner’s net monthly re­turns,” Rad­ford says.

He says IP Global is also tar­get­ing cities in the US with young pop­u­la­tions and in­dus­tries, such as Min­neapo­lis and At­lanta.

Buy­ing prop­erty in Cyprus en­ables South Africans to study, work and travel abroad more freely.

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