Built to a tee

Inside looks at the golf property market in the western Algarve

The Algarve is traditionally a region of sun, sand and sport, or to be more precise, golf. With more than 40 courses (some designed by true golf legends), mild temperatures all year round and little rain, it’s no surprise that the Algarve boasts the highest number of golf courses in Portugal and is often considered one of the best golf destinations in the world.

Such accolades have had an impact, with local real estate agents and golf resorts’ sales managers stating that golf property remained popular (even if prices decreased) throughout the recession. Now that the market is on the road to recovery, they all agree on one thing: golf property is a good investment.

“This is a safe investment away from the financials. That may sound strange, but if you take away the financial investment and look purely on the lifestyle investment, you get a safe, well-maintained environment with all the facilities on your doorstep,” said owner of B&P Real Estate Agency in Lagos, David Westmoreland. Adding that golf properties are now 50% cheaper within a resort and 30% off resort, the real estate agent assured that the main reason for the price drop was that the properties “increased higher than the market for a number of years”.

A good example is the former Parque da Floresta in Budens, home to an 18-hole course and which is now known as Santo Antonio Villas, Golf & Spa. Whilst the resort was riding “the crest of a wave in the noughties”, it was declared bankrupt in 2012, making properties “almost unsalable for a few years”. Now under new management, things are finally looking up, with B&P (which also has properties in Penina and Boavista) selling around 12 properties last year. “Prices are not increasing yet, hence it is a great time to buy. The resort looks great and it is getting back its buzz,” said the real estate agent and former Parque da Floresta’s sales and marketing manager.

The profile of buyers is also changing, with Russian, French, German and Swedish clients now in full force, and mostly purchasing for their own use. ”The rental periods really fall into the peak periods of August and July when a lot of owners prefer not to be there, as the resort is too busy.” With prices ranging from €150,000 in the golf village for a two-bedroom townhouse to €550,000 for a four-bedroom villa, owners at Santo Antonio benefit from preferred tee times and discounted green fees, as well as the use of a golf academy, health & beauty spa and gym.

In fact, given the added benefits and facilities available, it’s not just golfers who are buying golf property, as Oceânico’s sales and marketing executive Filipa Glória explained: “The properties are much higher quality than the market average and are proving popular with clients. Golf resort buyers are often looking for more than just golf.”

A renowned golf operator and property developer, Oceânico owns the luxurious Amendoeira Golf Resort in Alcantarilha, a modern development with 242 properties and three golf courses – the stunning Oceânico Faldo Course and Oceânico O’Connor Jnr., and the beginner-friendly Oceânico Academy. The first phase, comprising 80 houses (two-bedroom apartments, and three-, four- and five-bedroom villas), was launched at the end of May, with more than 30 properties already reserved and property owners enjoying an array of discounted services. Prices range from almost €261,000 for a two-bedroom apartment to €942,000 for a luxury four-bedroom villa. According to Filipa Glória, clients are mostly golfers, pensioners and families from the UK, France, Scandinavia and Benelux countries, and like at Santo Antonio, some rent out their properties to cover costs. “Generally younger buyers look to rent more than retirement buyers,” she noted.

Home to three courses, including the first 18-hole golf course in the Algarve – the Sir Henry Cotton Championship Course – Penina Hotel & Golf Resort is a symbol of golf excellence in the Algarve. Whilst the resort, which is located in Portimão and encompasses a 5-star hotel, does not have new property for sale, it is a sought-after spot for resale opportunities. With a number of homes at Penina in her portfolio, managing partner of Fine & Country Carvoeiro, Zoie Hawker, says that Penina, “the Algarve’s oldest golf resort, is always popular”. “Buyers are especially attracted by the facilities of the 5-star hotel, the three gold golf courses and attractive membership fees. Plus, the plots are all large (at least 2,000sqm) and there is no condominium charge,” she added. Here, prices for a five-bedroom villa can reach €875,000 and, like in any other golf resort, “views over the fairways are always popular”.

Further east, in Carvoeiro, we find Vale de Milho, a nine-hole course affording gorgeous views over the Atlantic. Co-owner and developer Mark Stilwell has built 10 luxury townhouses on-site: “Five of the owners rent. The English play

golf, the Swiss and Dutch a bit and the Portuguese do not play,” he said. Real estate agency Fine & Country also has a number of houses for sale within walking distance of the Carvoeiro course, including a three-bedroom townhouse for €290,000.

Commenting on the current state of the Algarve market, Mark noted, “property sales are improving, but buyers are careful about running costs and expect discounts”. That seems to be the case in the well-established Boavista Golf Resort & Spa, just outside Lagos. “Clients are becoming more discerning and often ask about the resort support and ongoing costs, as well as the social activities and security,” said Jayne Stanley, sales manager at Boavista. With an 18-hole course offering views over the beautiful Lagos bay, the resort has 12 golf frontage properties on sale, with a further four under construction and six more in planning. These range from two-bedroom townhouses to five-bedroom detached villas with pool and come with resort privileges. Clients can also opt for resale properties, from apartments to detached villas. Highlights include a brand new, fully-furnished two-bedroom townhouse for €270,000, a great opportunity to put your hands on a new golf product, which Fine & Country’s Zoie Hawker says “is scarce in the Algarve”. With a lovely clubhouse and quality spa facilities, Boavista also provides (if requested) a full property service, as well as the advantage of no resort fees, making the job of real estate agents a lot easier. One such agencies is the Lagos-based ToGoFor-Homes, part of a chain with offices in Tavira and Vilamoura, which offers a complete portfolio of golf properties not only at Boavista, but also at Santo Antonio.

Still in the Lagos area, but this time at Meia Praia, Onyria Palmares Beach & Golf Resort is a good option for those who wish to plan their home from the ground up. With a spectacular 27-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and plans to build a 5-star hotel on-site, the resort has several plots of land for sale. A more established option in the western Algarve is Pestana Golf, with courses in Silves (Silves Golf) and Carvoeiro (Gramacho and Vale da Pinta), and an array of real estate options – mostly resale – to back it up.

With manicured courses providing great views even for those who don’t play the game, excellent build quality and a wide range of facilities, golf property is set to continue in high demand. “Clients look for security, exclusiveness, quality, one stop shop holidays and holidaying with like-minded people,” noted David Westmoreland. In the western Algarve, all you have to do is take your pick.

Text Ana Tavares


Top, Boa Vista

Left to right – Santo Antonio Villas, Boa Vista, Vale de Milho.

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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