This week UCI Portugal had the opportunity to interview Chantal Bruining, Owner/Director at Divine Home, and we are delighted to be able to share this interview with you all here.
UCI: Corona virus imposed significant changes to everyone’s life. What has changed in the way you do business?
CB: Currently most of our clients cannot travel to Portugal. This means that we cannot physically view properties with them like we used to. We would normally take the clients in our car and view multiple properties in one day. This is currently impossible.
What do we do now? We keep in contact with the clients by phone and e-mail. We remain good visibility from our team and the properties for sale and provide as much service and value throughout this time as we can.
We are truly happy that we are working already for quite some time with 360° Virtual Tours, which makes it possible for everyone to do a digital viewing on our website via their own computer, smartphone or tablet. For anyone who even has the VR-goggles, they can experience the 360° tour in 3D which makes it look like they are truly inside the property. An amazing tool that really helps clients in their search for a property in Portugal.
If clients have further interest for a specific property, we also offer a viewing with one of our agents by video. The agent goes to the property and phones the client on the agreed date and time and via Whatsapp video, Skype or any other preferred digital tool and the agent shows the property to the client. This gives the client the opportunity to be in personal contact with the agent while doing a tour in the property.
Another aspect that changed is that the offices had to be closed. All Divine Home team members are working from home which was an adjustment for everyone in their daily routine but as we were already used to having all our relevant data digitally, we can continue working with our back office and data as if we were in the office.
UCI: What was the impact of this situation for the international buyers and their willingness to invest in Algarve’s real estate market?
CB: Overall there is still a big interest from potential buyers to purchase a property in the Algarve. There is a group of people who already had in mind to purchase a property before corona and they even want to buy now sooner rather than later once travel restrictions are lifted, as the current situation shows that anything can happen in life and the only right time to choose for quality of life is now.
Of course there is also a group of people who still have the will to purchase but they are taking a financial loss due to the current situation which makes them uncertain of actually when they will be able to fulfil their dream, but the willingness to buy in the Algarve remains with this group of clients as well.
Another group of clients are the investors. They are interested in properties for good prices now that prices are not rising, they want to benefit from the change in the market and are expecting higher rates of return in 2021 when tourism is up again. We see the inquiries from investors rising and they have their eyes focused on Portugal.
The long-term effect will really rely on the length of time we have to deal with these measures, but overall the Algarve will have a strong position for people seeking an overseas retirement or for those looking to buy to relocate to a warmer climate or better lifestyle.
UCI: What are you doing to prepare your business for the after this current situation?
CB: In this time of uncertainty, it is best to keep delivering valuable information and a good service to your clients. We mainly focus on remaining in contact with our clients, keeping a realistic but positive mindset and improving all kinds of things ranging from the website to internal work documents and new marketing strategies.
UCI: Do you think that, after this, the real estate market will be the same? What will change for the international byers?
CB: After the pandemic has calmed down, European people will be less likely to travel to expensive or exotic destinations where the risk of infection will be seen as higher, and it is far more likely they will choose a holiday closer to home. Portugal will benefit greatly from this as it is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations. Although touristic figures of 2020 will undoubtedly be terrible, it should not be left unsaid that 2021 is likely to give great yields similar or even better to 2019 which makes a purchase of a holiday home in Portugal still a great investment.
The same for people who want to relocate for retirement or those seeking a more relaxed lifestyle. Portugal will be one of the first chosen countries to relocate to after corona.
Forbes also published a great article, see https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathleenpeddicord/2020/04/01/living-and-retiring-overseas-post-the-coronavirus-three-top-options/#5dd1bf1e2ee5)
The Algarve offers a good lifestyle, warm climate, safety and security. Those things have not gone away, in fact maybe now they are more valuable than they have ever been in the past. And other positive points that are likely to be considered by buyers may include:
- Low rate of infection
- Low population density
- One of the highest air qualities in Europe.
- One of the highest numbers of doctors per capita in Europe.
Although 2020 will be an exciting and challenging year for the Portuguese property market and we can expect the market to be slowed down or even contract after corona, we do see this more as a “bump in the road” from one of Europe’s best performing property markets over the last decade.
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