Affluent South Africans set their sights on Cyprus and Portugal to gain EU citizenship

Affluent South Africans set their sights on Cyprus and Portugal to gain EU citizenship

Artist’s impression of the aerial view of Aiya Napa Marina in Cyprus.

For good reason, Portugal remains a 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, managing director of Pam Golding International.

“For most 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 to gain easy 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 want to create international opportunities for their children while leaving a lasting legacy for their families – not just their immediate families but for future generations too.

“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 offers considerable opportunities to accomplish this. For an investment of €2 million, you can acquire full European citizenship for life in just four to six 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 €500 000.

“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.”

He says 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 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 historic sightseeing highlights, such as ruins of Neolithic dwelling, Bronze Age and Phoenician tombs, Roman monasteries, Venetian walls, Byzantine castles and churches and Islamic mosques. 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 homes, 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, beaches and recreational experiences. The 190 spacious, deluxe apartments in the two twisted towers are priced from €795 000, and 29 luxury villas are selling from €4.6 million

Says Immelman: “Setting a new benchmark in luxury marina developments, this 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 a marina and various upmarket retail, dining and lifestyle amenities.

“The marina incorporates a specially engineered wave-absorbing breakwater and is 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 easy.

“Not surprisingly, half the apartments in Aiya Napa Marina have already sold to foreign buyers, and now South Africans have the opportunity to acquire property in this development and all its benefits.

“If you invest €2 million upfront, you acquire a passport within six months, with the opportunity to disinvest in three years with a return of say, some €2.5 million to €500 000 of which you can use to re-invest in an apartment for use as a holiday home or buy to let investment.”

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 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.

To benefit from Portugal’s Golden Visa Programme with the opportunity to qualify for residency, foreign buyers need invest a minimum of €500 000. 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 years ago, prices have increased by 30%. 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 priced from €300 000.”