These are the top spots favoured by South Africans buying property overseas, and why

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Investment opportunities include the Lapa Porto Hotel in Porto, Portugal. (Supplied)
Investment opportunities include the Lapa Porto Hotel in Porto, Portugal. (Supplied)
  • South African buyers have continued to show a strong appetite for offshore property investments in 2020, says the chief executive of Pam Golding Properties.
  • In his view, the biggest demand is still for Portugal, with the ultimate goal of gaining European Union citizenship.
  • There is still a surge in SA sales listings entering the market place due to sellers intending to emigrate, says the manager principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty in Midrand.


It has become easier than ever before to buy property online, no matter where in the world, says Gil Sperling, co-CEO of proptech platform Flow.

"Nearly everyone is now engaging digitally before they buy. Digital experiences have made the world smaller and, in the property space, allowed people to explore their options from the comfort and safety of home. Digital virtual tours now work like an immersive experience to give purchasers the opportunity to make informed decisions," says Sperling.

South African buyers have continued to demonstrate a strong appetite for offshore property investments in 2020, according to Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of Pam Golding Properties.

In his view, the biggest demand is still for Portugal, with the ultimate goal of gaining European Union citizenship. Next on the popularity list is Mauritius and then Grenada, which offers a path to US residency.

"The US will always be a pull for those looking for a bigger and better lifestyle for high net-worth South Africans looking to participate in the biggest economy in the world," says Golding.

"At the same time, the EU residency programmes allow for a good, hard currency investment coupled with the ability to acquire EU residency opportunities, including for family members, in turn opening up opportunities like studying in Europe."

During the lockdown, Pam Golding Properties has seen a significant increase in enquiries from South Africans for property offering residency in Mauritius. Golding attributes this to factors which include the increased desire for security and health safety during uncertain times, the drop in the price entry level for residency from USD500 000 (about R7.5 million) to USD375 000 (about R5.6 million), ease of access, and an existing, large South African expat community.

Mauritius

Generally speaking, investment property in Mauritius starts around R3 million for a one-bedroom unit, while top end villas at are priced from R45 million. 

"As more people have realised, they can work remotely, demand for property investment in the Seychelles remains steady. On Eden Island prices range from R6 million for an apartment, R15 million for a 'maison' and R35 million for a freestanding villa," says Golding. 

Chris Immelman, who heads up Pam Golding International, agrees that Portugal remains the "cream of the crop" for South Africans looking for property investments overseas. 

"The trend is that people are looking to find a good investment coupled with a residency angle and Portugal, without a doubt, ticks both these boxes and remains the most popular," says Immelman. "There are also those looking for international jurisdictions to make pure property investments - for example moving away from traditional London."

Porto

Porto in Portugal, recently rated first among the top 25 best small cities in the world to relocate to in Monocle magazine's inaugural Small Cities Index, is the latest hotspot of choice for South Africans entering Portugal's Golden Visa Programme.

Immelman says Portugal is among the top three in the 2020 Global Peace Index, and with English widely spoken, great weather, an affordable cost of living and healthcare, excellent education facilities and no wealth or inheritance tax or tax on overseas pensions, is increasingly popular among South Africans seeking residency by investment or easy access to EU countries. "With interest and uptake ongoing through the Covid-19 lockdown, most of our investors are looking to acquire a Golden Visa in order to afford them and their immediate families visa-free access to EU countries in all 26 countries in the Schengen zone to study, work or live - with some seeking to relocate or retire permanently to Portugal," says Immelman.

"Over the past three-and-a-half years we've assisted 380 families to enter the Golden Visa Programme, which offers residency via investment in property, with an entry level of only €350 000 (about R6.4 million). A number of early investors have already been granted citizenship."

On hold

Grahame Diedericks, manager principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty in Midrand, says there is still a surge in sales listings entering the market-place due to sellers intending to emigrate, but with the current travel restrictions, many of them are re-considering or putting their plans on hold for now. 

In his view, the most popular destinations remain Perth and Melbourne in Australia, Toronto in Canada, the United Kingdom, The Algarve in Portugal, and Mauritius.

"You will often see trends with emigration linked to current events in South Africa, mainly political uncertainty. That being said, there are many South Africans changing their outlook on the current climate, which can be seen in the buying trends within the major metros at their highest levels for years," adds Diedericks.

Chris Cilliers, CEO and co-principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty in the Cape Winelands, says over the last few years he has seen that Mauritius has been a property haven for SA citizens.

"We have done a couple of international referrals to the island as well as to Spain and France. There are many South Africans settling in The Netherlands. Young professionals and young families predominantly," says Cilliers. 

"But in some of the international destinations, the property market is quite overheated. I believe that in some areas you have to pay higher than the asking price to get a chance of having your offer accepted. Many SA citizens go out on work permits and rent in order to put together the funds in euro, as the rand doesn't go far."

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