BY GAYE DE VILLIERS
Leave a lasting legacy for generations
For good reason, Portugal remains a highly sought-after destination for international property buyers – including South Africans – but now new kid on the block, Cyprus, is stirring up interest in the marketplace, says Chris Immelman, MD of Pam Golding International.
“For the bulk of South African residential property buyers in these countries, their primary aim is to acquire European Union residency for their families – mainly with a view to enabling their adult children gain ease of access to study and work abroad, and to travel freely in Europe.
“Having recently hosted investor roadshows in major centres around the country, it’s evident that many affluent SA residents are seeking to create international opportunities for their children while at the same time leaving a lasting legacy for their families – not just their immediate families but for future generations too.
EU citizenship in just six months
“An offshore investment in a stable country is an ideal way to diversify a property portfolio and the appealing island of Cyprus in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea offers considerable opportunities to accomplish this. For an investment of EUR2 million, you can acquire full European citizenship for life in just 4-6 months for you and your entire family up to the age of 28 years, with the opportunity to disinvest after three years by selling your property, but with the requirement that you reinvest EUR500 000.
“Property here has a sound underlying investment value. In Cyprus as with Portugal, we have done our homework, meeting with local developers and law firms and thoroughly researching the market in person.
“As a result we have extensive knowledge of the local real estate markets on the island, enabling us to offer interested clients a customised portfolio of preselected properties, all legally and financially compliant and based on each applicant’s preferences and criteria. Together with our Cape Town based team and PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) Cyprus, we offer an all-inclusive service throughout the entire citizenship application process.”
For investors in Cyprus, a key advantage is that citizenship can be passed on to future generations by descent, while a Cypriot passport also allows visa-free travel to 159 countries including Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK.
An attractive tourist destination which is very strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, Cyprus also attracts a huge number of British immigrants. This is a stable country and financial centre very attractive for residence, with a modern, free-market, service-based economy and effective and transparent regulatory and legal framework based on English Common Law. It was ranked 65th out of 144 countries by the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16. Although Cyprus is about four times the size of Mauritius, there are only some 700 000 inhabitants.
Attractions include numerous historic sightseeing highlights, including ruins of Neolithic dwelling, Bronze Age and Phoenician tombs, Roman monasteries, Venetian walls, Byzantine castles and churches and Islamic mosques. A variety of leisure pursuits range from beach and water sports to golf and nature or mountain activities.
Currently the largest project being constructed in Cyprus is Ayia Napa Marina on the south eastern coast, which offers buyers luxurious residences, world-class yachting facilities including a 600-berth superyacht marina, spa and wellness centres, beach and yacht clubs, swimming pools, gardens, child care, retail boutiques, waterfront fine dining options, spectacular beaches and recreational experiences. The 190 spacious, deluxe apartments in the two ‘twisted’ towers are priced from EUR795 000, while 29 luxury villas are selling from EUR4.6 million
Says Immelman: “Setting a new benchmark in luxury marina developments, this iconic seafront project is backed by Cypriot entrepreneur Gerasimos Caramondanis and Egyptian investor Naguib Sawiris – the 400th wealthiest man in the world, as well as the Cypriot government. Designed by world-renowned architecture, engineering and planning firm, SmithGroupJJR, construction has commenced with dredging and the revectment walls completed. Apart from the two landmark ‘twisted’ towers of over 100m which will rise above the skyline, providing panoramic views across the beaches, coastline and Mediterranean, the development will include an impressive marina and various upmarket retail, dining and lifestyle amenities.
“Notably the marina, which incorporates a specially engineered wave-absorbing breakwater, is also an official port of entry for customs, providing immediate, convenient access for foreign residents. This makes a quick half-hour boat trip to Lebanon for lunch and back as easy as us popping downtown for a restaurant meal in any South African city.
“Here you are buying into a development that has all the attributes of becoming one of the greatest marinas in the Mediterranean. By getting in on the ground floor, you are capitalising on the fact that values will start shooting up as the project nears completion – in much the same way as has occurred in the luxury island marina development, Eden Island in Seychelles, where those who purchased originally have made significant capital gains. Not surprisingly, half the apartments in Aiya Napa Marina have already sold to international buyers, and now South Africans have the opportunity to acquire property in this prestigious development and all its benefits.
“Simply put, if you invest EUR2 million upfront, you acquire your passport within six months, with the opportunity to disinvest in three years with a return of say, some EUR2.5 million – EUR500 000 of which you can use to re-invest in an apartment for use as a holiday home or buy to let investment. Ultimately, it’s a small price to pay for lifelong citizenship for you and your family.”
Ayia Napa resort town is home to EU Natura sites including Cape Greco National Park which has a wealth of fauna and flora and over 80 species of birds.
Adds Immelman: “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 the supply.”
Undergoing massive regeneration, the vibrant capital city of Lisbon, just named World’s Best Tourist Destination in the 24th edition of the World Travel Awards, is a prime global hotspot and magnet for buyers as a hard currency investment with solid returns and good long-term capital appreciation prospects, as well as the opportunity for freedom of travel in the European Union.
In order to benefit from Portugal’s Golden Visa Programme with the opportunity to qualify for residency, foreign buyers need invest a minimum of EUR500 000. Permanent residency is achievable in year six and citizenship in year seven. Portugal has relatively low tax rates of about 20 percent and no wealth or inheritance tax or tax on overseas pensions.
“Since we began selling property via the Golden Visa Programme less than three ago, prices have increased by 30 percent. Such is the demand that for the first time we are looking outside our usual stamping ground of Lisbon and Cascais to Comporta, which is considered ‘The Hamptons’ of Portugal. Only about an hour from Lisbon and with pristine beaches, Comporta comprises a cluster of villages ideal for weekend getaways, with properties selling from EUR300 000.”