Merci beaucoup! Algarve enjoys ‘French invasion’

Merci beaucoup! Algarve enjoys ‘French invasion’

The much-publicised French tax exodus is having a desirable effect on the Algarve’s property market. Estate agents up and down the region report an influx of French buyers.

“We are at the point where we are having to scout out French-speaking lawyers and French-speaking accountants. Next year is looking really positive,” Yellow Homes’ Paul Greenhalgh told the Algarve Resident.

And he added: “If the momentum continues into the summer, we’ll be seeing quite a buoyant Algarve again.”

The “beauty of the French” is that they are spontaneous,” António Marcela, who runs his company in the West Algarve told us. “I like to think it is the Latin in them… They make up their minds very quickly – and they’re definitely buying!
Other nationalities are more likely to think and haggle, but the French are just buying. They’ve become a serious market – perhaps not exactly an invasion, but very good news nonetheless.”

In recently-opened Fine & Country in Carvoeiro, property manager Patrícia Candeias is being kept on her toes and is polishing up on her French accent. She is happy to call it an invasion.

“It started almost the minute we opened in September,” she told us. “We’ve had a huge influx of French clients. They’ve outstripped all other nationalities.”

But what kind of properties are they going for? “Anything from those in the €300,000 bracket to homes over a million,” she told us.

“They’re not all in the same league as Gerard Depardieu” – the flamboyant French actor who has renounced his French citizenship in order to skip the country’s ever-increasing tax rates – “but a lot of them seem interested in living here.”

A call to the French Consulate in Lisbon didn’t get us very far on this score, however. “Je ne sais pas…” said the lady in the press office when asked the latest figures for French people moving to Portugal.

Then again, it’s not actually something France wants to talk about. When the Sunday Telegraph carried an article on the exodus of French entrepreneurial talent due to relentless tax hikes recently, it was lambasted by many in the country for being “British propaganda!”

The article actually came from French journalist, Anne-Elizabeth Moutet, who retorted that since writing it “François Hollande’s government has added three new taxes to the 84 that have been created in the past two years”.

“Not only will capital gains on a series of popular savings plans be now subject to a 15.5% flat tax, but also the measure is retroactive all the way to 1997 – coincidentally (perhaps) the last time France elected a Socialist government before this one”, she pointed out, highlighting a situation where “Entrepreneurs are really hunted away from the country”.

Portugal as one of their destinations was not mentioned in the article, but it would seem our clean air, sun-filled climate and buyer-friendly property market has worked its magic.

“The low-value property that we had on our books has now all but gone,” added Paul Greenhalgh. “There’s still a way to go, but thanks to the French it would seem that we’re getting there.”