Citizenship and residency by investment in real estate an ongoing trend in SA
Portugal still tops the residency-by-investment list
Recently voted the third most peaceful country in the world by the Global Peace Index, and lauded for its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, Portugal still tops the list of destinations for South Africans seeking residency by investment (RBI) for themselves and their families, says Chris Immelman, head of Pam Golding International.
“While Mauritius, with its easy access, and Seychelles remain firm favourites, and the US and Grenada also attracting their fair share of interest, Portugal is rated the third-safest country in the world and English is widely spoken.
“Portugal is recognised as one of the most desirable retirement locations with an affordable cost of living and health care, and appealing year-round climate, not to mention its beautiful beaches and coastline and excellent educational facilities. It also has no wealth or inheritance tax or tax on overseas pensions, and relatively low tax rates of about 28%.”
And bucking global trends, Portugal’s national airline TAP plans to launch new direct flights between Lisbon and Cape Town, with three weekly long-haul flights starting from November 11 2020, making the country even more accessible.
“Over the past three years we’ve assisted more than 350 SA families enter Portugal’s Golden Visa Programme, which offers residency via investment in property, with early investors already being granted citizenship,” says Immelman.
“Notably, despite the dramatic impact of Covid-19 on economies around the world, Lisbon is recognised as one of a handful of prime residential markets expected to achieve price growth during the rest of 2020. This makes Portugal a prime choice for local investors seeking a sound offshore rand hedge amid SA’s ongoing economic recession — particularly post-lockdown.”
The entry level investment in Portugal’s Golden Visa programme, which provides ease of access to EU countries as well as permanent residency in Portugal after only five years, is just €350,000 (about R6.8m).
“Not surprisingly, we are seeing an increase in interest in real estate-linked residency schemes as SA investors weigh up their options in the current market,” adds Immelman.
“Among South Africans, the demand for countries offering citizenship and residency programmes has remained steady over the past few years. These are mainly families with children up to the age of 23 , who view it as an insurance policy against currency and political risk, and a way to give their children the opportunity to study, work and live internationally.
“Most of our investors (about 80%) are acquiring buy-to-let apartments with good rental yields and capital appreciation prospects abroad. In Mauritius we find about half our investors plan to spend several months a year there as they reach semi-retired status.
“In the US, since we became involved with the EB-5 programme just over a year ago, we have helped more than 50 SA families with their applications. For any South African seeking a plan B, it makes sense to invest in what arguably remains the world’s best economy. As a result, the Immigrant Investor EB-5 programme that provides the opportunity to acquire US citizenship via investment in a property venture has come to the fore. It remains the pre-eminent programme to gain lawful and legitimate access to the US to work, live and play.
“According to our partners in this venture, American Dream, who offer a turnkey service with access to the EB-5 programme, South Africans are showing increasing interest in what is the quickest way to obtain your US green card, with citizenship possible after just five years living in the US. The investment threshold for the programme is $900,000 (about R15.7m).”
Says Richard Haller, director of Pam Golding Properties Mauritius: “We’ve sold about 1,000 units, 700 of which were sold to South Africans looking for a strong offshore investment they can use as they get older, but then also pass down the permanent residency component to their children. Apart from its proximity to SA, strong business environment, thriving financial services sector and low tax rates of only about 15%, Mauritius offers an idyllic environment for permanent or leisure use, all of which contributes to an enabling environment for investment.
“Coupled with this, the government continues to be exceptionally proactive and Mauritius is now one of very few countries in the world that are Covid-19 free. It has also recently been announced in the June 4 budget speech, that permanent residency through real estate will now be accessible from $375,000 (about R6.5m). Coupled with this, permanent residency status now includes the right to work, open a business and even to bring your parents to the island. This is tremendously positive news and we await this to be ratified in parliament in early July.
“Further benefits are that there’s no housing or property tax, no inheritance tax on properties purchased and no capital gains tax, which speaks directly to property investors and home buyers, particularly those looking to relocate for retirement or simply a highly appealing lifestyle in a sought-after international location.”
Over and above these countries, the demand for Grenada in the Caribbean is strong — being the cheapest way to full citizenship at $220,000 (about R3.8m) per family. Says Immelman: “In Grenada we have assisted about 20 families with citizenship by investment taking less than nine months and offering visa-free travel to 143 countries, including the EU Schengen area, UK, China, Singapore and Hong Kong.
As a result, we see Grenada receiving increasing attention from South Africans, including those seeking an ideal holiday home with sound investment potential plus rental income from a growing tourism base.
“Grenada’s CBI programme only requires a minimum investment of $220,000, with no interview, management experience or qualifications necessary, minimal processing fee and you don’t even have to live there to have citizenship.
“Grenada has a source-based taxation system, so citizens who are tax resident there are not subject to Grenadian tax on their foreign income, nor do they pay any wealth, gift, inheritance or capital gains tax. And with a year-round tropical climate, pristine beaches and lush landscape, Grenada is an idyllic getaway destination.”
On Eden Island in Seychelles, freehold apartments, maisons and villas to a total value of $520m have been sold to date, with people of over 40 nationalities acquiring homes — 25% of whom own more than one property due to the sound capital appreciation and investment returns.
From the total of 565 units on the island, only nine remain, which are new apartments starting from $455,000 (about R7.9m), as all the maisons and villas have been sold. However, some resale units are available for purchase — apartments starting from $400,000, maisons from $1.1m (about R19m) and villas from $2.9m (about R50.4m). Homeowners qualify to apply for residency in Seychelles.
For further information e-mail Theresa Fernandez of Pam Golding International firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was paid for by Pam Golding International.
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