Housing demand climbing back since start of deconfinement

Good news for Portugal’s property sector emerged this week, with new data showing property sales have increased 23% since the country started emerging from lockdown in May.

It has been described by Expresso newspaper as a “sigh of relief” for property agents who saw sales plummet in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to statistics from Confidencial Imobiliário (CI), there has been a 41% year-on-year decrease in property sales in Portugal up until May.

But the situation appears to be improving as agencies have started adapting to the times by providing virtual tours and other digital solutions.

Equally remarkable, explains Ricardo Guimarães, general manager at CI, is that the reduction in sales hasn’t taken its toll on property prices.

“The market is resisting the strategy of lowering prices to react to plummeting sales,” says Guimarães, adding that there is confidence that prices will return to normal after the pandemic even if they are lowered now.

Property specialists say the Covid-19 crisis has taught people to “appreciate their homes more” after spending long periods of time in quarantine – and this factor is being described as the reason for prices keeping stable.

In fact, prices increased slightly by 0.9% between April and May, although a lower rate than the average increases of 1.5% and 2% that were being recorded before the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to Guimarães, 2020 got off to a promising start with a stable rate of property sales, taking its first major hit in March, although the most considerable was in April, when sales fell a whopping 53%.

“Still, this means that in the midst of our confinement, the market was able to maintain half of its pre-Covid activity,” he said.

Meantime, Portugal’s association of real estate professionals and agencies (APEMIP) has confirmed that the property market is still not working at full steam, although there is optimism among professionals.

According to its own survey, over 83% of properties have maintained their pre-crisis prices.

“There isn’t any reason for a price drop, except in cases where prices are speculated,” APEMIP president Luís Lima told Expresso.

As he explained, while in the last crisis there was an “excess” of houses on the market which led to a drop in prices, this time there is a lack of properties for sale, especially in the “medium and medium-low” segments.

The survey also found that 72.1% of agencies reopened right after the country’s deconfinement started.

According to a survey carried out by the association, 74% of real estate companies have “high expectations” for the next three months, based “mostly on the positive signs coming from abroad as well as the good sanitary behaviour the country has shown”.

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