Golden Visa Investment in Portugal in 2023:

New laws and trends with Sam Menda from Seed Real Estate
Sam´s Origins
The  Problem
Seed´s Beginnings
Real Estate Services in Portugal
Lisbon´s Real Estate Market
Lisbon´s Real Estate Prices
Golden Visa in Portugal
Lisbon Neighborhoods
Revoloutionizing Real Estate Marketing
Streamlining the Real Estate Buying Process
Remote Real Estate Investments
Purchasing Process from Abroad

HalloCasa: Hello and welcome to Session 102 of HalloCasa. I’m Michael, and today I have the pleasure of speaking with Sam Menda from Seed Real Estate in Lisbon, Portugal. Sam brings over 17 years of experience in the film and advertising industry and made the transition to real estate by starting his own company in Lisbon with his friend, Eden.
Sam has an interesting background, with Israeli and Portuguese origins and even another heritage from Turkey, which he will share more about later. His real estate approach is deeply rooted in the digital realm, which he believes is crucial for gaining market share and staying competitive in Lisbon’s highly saturated market.
During this session, Sam will delve into these topics. I’m thrilled to have you here, Sam, and I want to express my gratitude for hosting me. This is our first live session, and I’m genuinely excited about it. The stage is yours now, so please introduce yourself to our audience.
Sam Menda: Thank you, Michael. It’s a pleasure to meet you, and we’re delighted to have you here in our office. As for the missing country, it’s Turkey.
I consider myself primarily Turkish, followed by Israeli and Portuguese.
I hold all three nationalities, but my upbringing in Turkey has shaped my identity the most.
Afterward, I moved to Israel, and for the past four and a half years, I’ve been residing in Portugal as a Portuguese citizen.
HalloCasa: Perfect. It’s fascinating how you transitioned from the film advertisement industry, serving some of the world’s biggest brands, to real estate. Could you give us an overview of how this journey unfolded and any connections between these two fields?

Born for the film industry

Sam Menda: Certainly. Throughout my life, I had a deep passion for films, and in Turkey, when you pursue higher education, you must choose a major. Since childhood, I was certain that I wanted to study film and become a director. Eventually, I won an award for the best university film in Turkey and pursued my studies in that field.
While studying, I began working as an assistant director in the advertising industry and became involved in the world of filmmaking.
Around 10 years ago, I transitioned from being a director in the film industry to shooting TV commercials. I had the opportunity to work on projects for renowned brands like Adidas, Samsung, and Gazprom across various countries. When I relocated to Portugal, I continued working as a director. This was during the initial stages of the pandemic, perhaps around the middle of it.
At that time, I joined a Brazilian company that had recently established its presence in Portugal. It was unusual because commercial directors typically work as freelancers on a project basis. However, being an in-house director provided a sense of stability in this new country. I no longer had to travel, and I would receive payment whether I worked or not. We operated by waiting for projects and providing budget estimates. Unfortunately, the pandemic struck, affecting the entire industry.
Initially, the company upheld their commitment and continued paying me for at least six projects per week. I felt fortunate amidst the challenging times everyone was facing. However, as time went on, it became clear that the situation was not sustainable. In the fifth month, they informed me that they could no longer continue operating in Portugal. I completely understood their decision. At that point, I still had hope that the pandemic would improve, but it didn’t.

The problem of traditional real estate firms

Meanwhile, I found myself in a rather unoccupied state due to receiving payment without having much to do. To alleviate my boredom, I even filmed a small commercial at home, which gained unexpected popularity. During this period, my best friend Eden, who was already working for a real estate company in Lisbon, approached me. He suggested that since we were both dealing with limited online work hours due to the pandemic, I should join him and use my people skills to make some sales and earn extra income.
With nothing better to do, I thought, “Why not?” Soon enough, we became partners within the company. I took charge of the marketing aspect, while Eden handled sales. We carried forward this partnership when we established Seed Real Estate. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, we achieved significant sales in our first year, even though we were still learning Portuguese.
Recognizing the market’s potential, we realized that we could accomplish much more. My partner, who is French, shares the same passion for hard work and excels in sales and building relationships with people.
In the real estate industry, there is a significant amount of back-office work involved. It includes tasks like handling client contracts, document uploads, and various written tasks. These activities can easily consume around 80% of your time. Surprisingly, even without proficiency in Portuguese, we were able to successfully close deals.
So, we came up with an idea: “Let’s hire an assistant. We’ll take care of the expenses ourselves, without burdening the company.” However, the company’s mindset was resistant to change. We couldn’t fully comprehend this because we believed that if we generated more revenue, they would also benefit.
Unfortunately, they opposed the idea. That was the turning point when we realized it was time to establish our own company. It was during a beach conversation, where we had been contemplating opening our own venture. While I’m knowledgeable about the marketing world, my expertise lies more in the production aspect rather than marketing and advertising strategies.
We were discussing the crucial aspect of lead generation and how to approach it. We had everything planned, from our mindset to the structure of the business. Our focus was on developing effective lead generation strategies. We brainstormed different approaches, exchanging ideas as we sat on the beach.
Coincidentally, a person sitting nearby overheard our conversation and approached us. Apologizing for eavesdropping, he revealed that he specialized in lead generation for real estate companies. Although we didn’t end up working together, it felt like a sign.
We engaged in a conversation and discovered that lead generation itself wasn’t the most challenging part. The real challenge lies in delivering exceptional service to the leads once we acquire them. Fortunately, we had already addressed that aspect. With this realization, we wasted no time and promptly opened our office, starting small with an apartment as our base of operations.

The start of Seed Real Estate in Portugal

We began our journey by renting an apartment near El Corte Ingles. It was the starting point for our business, and we hired our first assistant to support us with administrative tasks and Portuguese language requirements. This included handling phone calls where some people didn’t speak Portuguese, which we understood and accommodated. We also took the opportunity to present our company’s vision and share insights about the real estate industry.
Soon enough, we started expanding our team, hiring more professionals and brokers. Now, after two years, we have grown significantly and operate from a spacious office with 18 team members representing 13 different nationalities. It’s truly like a family. Our hiring process focuses on two crucial steps: a professional interview that includes background checks and a second step where we assess candidates in a social environment. This allows us to gauge their personal qualities and ensure they align with our long-term vision. We consider this project a lifetime commitment and seek to build lasting relationships with our team members.
This unique elimination process has helped us form a cohesive team and achieve remarkable growth over the past two years. We are proud of our journey and the team we have built.
HalloCasa: Your journey is truly inspiring, and your description makes perfect sense. For our international audience, could you explain how obtaining a real estate license works in Portugal? If someone wants to open their own company in Lisbon, what are the requirements and steps involved?
Sam Menda: In Portugal, when we started our company, we had to obtain a specific license called an “Army license.” This license is necessary for conducting actual real estate mediation. As soon as we embarked on this journey, we promptly applied for and acquired the required license.
HalloCasa: So, just one license for the entire company is sufficient?
Sam Menda: Yes, exactly. One license is enough for the company, and all our real estate consultants can operate under it. HalloCasa: Understood. Moving on to a technical question you mentioned earlier. You said that obtaining leads isn’t the biggest challenge, but rather delivering and following through with clients. How does inventory generation work for you? Many real estate agents emphasize the importance of exclusivity and obtaining the listings. How do you perceive this challenge in Lisbon and Portugal? Is exclusivity a significant issue or less prevalent compared to other countries?
Sam Menda: Exclusivity is indeed a challenge, and we faced it during our first year. Initially, our focus was more on buyers, but we quickly realized that the real money and opportunities lie in serving sellers. After all, what we are selling is the real estate product itself. Once you have the properties, generating leads becomes relatively easy. However, it’s crucial to handle buyers well and provide excellent service.
In Turkey and Israel, real estate companies earn commissions from both buyers and sellers, splitting it evenly. In Portugal, however, real estate companies receive their commissions solely from the sellers.
HalloCasa: When do you have the negotiating power to request exclusivity and set specific terms for a certain duration, considering your investment in marketing, staging, and other activities? Or is it determined based on the property’s value?
Sam Menda: We try to avoid using the term exclusivity. Instead, we offer two types of services: standard and premium. We present the standard services with a list of inclusions, and then we have the premium service that provides additional benefits, including exclusivity. Ultimately, the decision lies with the seller. Most of the time, when we present these options and extras, they tend to choose exclusivity.
One aspect that sets us apart is our honesty and confidence in the quality of our services. As an addendum to the contract, we make it clear that if we fail to deliver on any of our promises, the client has the option to cancel the contract. This approach alleviates their concerns about being stuck with exclusivity. They have no risks, and if we fulfill our commitments, it benefits both parties.
HalloCasa: That’s a smart approach, providing assurance to clients while maintaining transparency. If you deliver on your promises, it works out, and if not, they have the flexibility to make a change.
HalloCasa: Is there a range of commission rates charged in Lisbon compared to rural areas?

Conducting Real Estate Services in Portugal

In Portugal, the general commission rate we charge is 5%. However, for certain projects in rural areas where large plots of land are involved and the selling process is more challenging, we may ask for a higher commission. Often, the property owners are already aware of this and offer a higher commission without us even needing to ask. These types of properties require extensive networking and cooperation with partners to make the sale valuable. If the commission is too small, none of the partners will be motivated to work on it.
HalloCasa: As a boutique company, I’m curious about off-market deals. Is this a common practice here in Portugal, or is it more prevalent in the United States?
Sam Menda: Off-market deals are indeed a thing here in Portugal. There are properties that people prefer not to list publicly, either for privacy reasons or because they are waiting for the right buyer and not in a hurry to sell. However, we have knowledge of these off-market properties through our networking efforts. If we have a buyer who matches the property’s criteria, we can present the opportunity and facilitate the sale. We engage in these types of deals frequently. So, it’s important to note that not all properties available for sale are showcased on our website or other companies’ websites.
HalloCasa: Coming back, like going a bit back to general, generally Portugal. Lisbon maybe also the state of the market. We know that the dynamic many people are flocking in a lot of foreign, foreign direct investment is, is pouring into, into this country and especially into Lisbon.

The Resilient Lisbon Real Estate Market: Booming Opportunities and Exceptional Quality of Life

Give us an overview about Lisbon itself with respect to real estate, but also maybe also why buying? Especially for the audience who has never been to Lisbon and why it might be an attractive destination to buy real estate.
Sam Menda: The Lisbon real estate market has been booming for an extended period and continues to thrive. Remarkably, even in the past year, it has shown price increases and remains active, offering excellent investment opportunities.
This is true not only for European investors but also for those from various Asian countries. In many European and Asian countries, a real estate investment is considered worthwhile if the rental income covers the mortgage payments, essentially resulting in having an apartment for free. However, in Lisbon, you can achieve even more. By renting out your property, utilizing a property management service, and deducting taxes, you can generate additional cash flow.
While it may not be a substantial amount, it is an unexpected bonus. Furthermore, Lisbon offers some of the lowest mortgage rates in Europe, attracting numerous investors.
Beyond investors, there are also buyers who are drawn to Portugal, particularly Lisbon, due to its high quality of life. People from various backgrounds, including expats and online workers from countries like Germany, choose to relocate to Portugal and experience a lifestyle that exceeds their expectations, even with relatively lower salaries compared to their home countries.
Portugal is renowned for its safety, having consistently ranked among the top three safest countries in the world for the past 50 years. Additionally, with over 300 sunny days per year, Portugal offers a pleasant climate.
The country boasts amazing food, an exceptional quality of life, and an abundance of activities, including a vibrant restaurant, bar, club, and nightlife scene. Portugal truly caters to diverse preferences, making it an appealing destination for property buyers who are willing to invest and pay a premium for real estate. This explains why the Lisbon market remains resilient while other markets experience downturns.
HalloCasa: I completely agree with everything you’ve mentioned. It’s truly delightful to wander through the streets of Lisbon and experience the lifestyle it offers across the entire country. The proximity to beaches and hiking trails, such as those in Sintra, adds to its appeal. Moreover, the cosmopolitan atmosphere and diverse international population create a beautiful tapestry of cultures.
Now, let’s delve into an overview of market prices in Lisbon. I’m curious to hear your perspective and any data or comparisons you may have with other European capitals. It would be helpful to understand how Lisbon’s prices can be categorized, perhaps in terms of square meter prices or other metrics.

Lisbon Real Estate Market: Affordable Square Meter Prices and Promising Rental Yields

Sam Menda: Absolutely. Compared to major capitals like London and Paris, Lisbon’s price per square meter is relatively lower. Amsterdam hovers around €8,000 per square meter. Barcelona shows a similar range, approximately €5,000 per square meter. Meanwhile, the average price in Lisbon remains below €5,000, typically around €4,000 per square meter. It’s important to note that these figures represent averages, and there are properties available at higher price points, exceeding €15,000 or even €20,000 per square meter. Conversely, it’s also possible to discover opportunities for around €3,000 per square meter, which, with a small renovation, can result in a fantastic property investment.
HalloCasa: That’s insightful. I’m also interested in understanding rental prices. Are they typically measured in square meter prices or assessed based on the unit’s quality? Additionally, could you provide an idea of the return on investment over a longer period? What can an investor expect in terms of profitability? You mentioned a positive cash flow on a yearly basis. It would be helpful to gain some understanding in that regard.
Sam Menda: Generally, the average rental yield in Lisbon ranges from 4% to 5%. However, it’s not uncommon for us to come across opportunities with yields exceeding 6%. One of the key factors contributing to this success is our in-house property management department, which excels at tenant screening and selection. With our extensive network and diverse nationalities within the company, we can find tenants willing to pay slightly higher rents, enhancing the overall profitability for investors. So, we can generate a bit more yield than the market.
HalloCasa: Great. Later, I’d love to learn more about the services offered by Seed. Now, let’s shift our focus to the Golden Visa program. This scheme caters to investors from outside Europe who don’t hold European citizenship, granting them residency after a certain period. How has this program evolved? Have there been any recent changes?
Sam Menda: Indeed, there have been significant changes over the past couple of years, and even some updates just moments before our conversation. Our team has been actively monitoring the news and scouring the internet for the latest details. Unfortunately, we don’t have the precise, up-to-date rules at this moment. However, the current news suggests that the Golden Visa program will be discontinued in Portugal, across all property types and regions.
HalloCasa: So, if I understand correctly, this means there will be no more opportunities for obtaining a golden visa in Portugal. Is that the case?
Sam Menda: Yes, that seems to be the current situation. Since this development just occurred, I don’t have all the specifics at the moment. However, it’s not only the golden visa program that has been affected; there have been several new laws introduced that impact the real estate market as a whole.
HalloCasa: To ensure our audience fully grasps the topic, could you please provide an overview of the minimum requirements for obtaining a golden visa and touch on any regional specifications? I’m aware that the program’s eligibility criteria vary depending on the municipality. Lisbon, for instance, halted its participation some time ago. Are there still opportunities in other advantageous regions or outside regions? It would be helpful to provide a general understanding.

Recent Changes in Golden Visa Program and the Challenges of Abandoned Properties in Lisbon

Sam Menda: Until last year, you could obtain a Golden Visa for 500,000 euros with specific requirements. These included the property being in the city center of Lisbon or Porto, the building being over 30 years old, and conducting renovations to improve its quality. By meeting these criteria, you could receive a discounted rate, obtaining a Golden Visa for 350,000 euros, which covered the renovation budget. This meant you could purchase an apartment for 300,000 euros and allocate 50,000 euros for renovations. If the property was further away from the city center, a 20% discount was applied, allowing for a Golden Visa at 280,000 euros.
However, there have been changes in recent times. Residential properties in Lisbon, Porto, and waterfront areas are no longer eligible for the Golden Visa. As of now, the Golden Visa is only available for commercial properties, including apartments with service licenses, but not for residential apartments in these cities.
When observing the abundance of abandoned houses in and around Lisbon, people often wonder why they are not being renovated or attracting investors. It is unclear why these buildings remain untouched. It could be due to legal complexities, inherited ownership complications, or a gray area of regulations.
The possibility of investors renovating these properties and transforming the area is uncertain. The recent changes in the law, which I learned about just minutes before our interview, indicate that the government is introducing measures to address this issue. They may require owners of abandoned buildings to rent them out instead of leaving them empty. However, the specific details of these measures are currently unknown.
In Portugal, this problem has been seen frequently. It is often caused by owners having unrealistic expectations regarding property value, setting excessively high prices, or simply not needing the money and therefore not caring about selling. Additionally, buildings with multiple owners, such as inherited properties with 10, 12, or 20 co-owners, can make it impossible to reach a deal and sell the property.
Considering the complexities involved, addressing this issue may prove to be a significant challenge. Balancing the rights of property owners and finding a fair resolution will be crucial, as simply taking the properties away may not be a viable solution.
HalloCasa: What can we expect in terms of regulations and prices in the real estate market?
Sam Menda: I believe there will be regulations in place to ensure fairness and prevent arbitrary actions. Ultimately, I think it will be beneficial for the people of Portugal.
HalloCasa: Yes, it seems like the market is on the rise.
Sam Menda: Exactly. There is currently a shortage of properties in Portugal, which is causing rental prices to skyrocket. I anticipate that there will be regulations to address these price increases as well.

Promising Neighborhoods and the Shifting Landscape of Lisbon’s Real Estate Market

HalloCasa: Looking specifically at Lisbon, do you see any opportunities in terms of rental and selling prices? Have we reached the peak, or is there potential for further growth? Are there any undervalued neighborhoods that offer buying opportunities?
Sam Menda: It depends on individual needs, as we work with investors on a case-by-case basis. However, there are areas that are projected to see increased value, while others already offer good deals for buyers. Some neighborhoods are currently in high demand for renting. The city is expanding. The other side of the river also holds potential, with talks of possible projects and expected long-term value. A similar trend occurred in Istanbul, where I grew up, with one side of the city becoming highly sought after over time.
Ultimately, it’s about what people want. The Touristic Center, which used to be in high demand, has lost some appeal. Lisbon’s city center is no longer sufficient for long-term investments, and the city is expanding to accommodate the growing demand. Personally, I also see potential on the other side of the river. I own a house in Cappa site, and the short commute to Lisbon’s city center makes it an attractive location. Similar to Istanbul, where I used to spend hours commuting, a 15-minute commute in Lisbon is considered convenient.
As this mindset continues to shift, I expect the city to expand significantly.
HalloCasa: Another transportation option is the ferry between Cais do Sodre and Cacilhas.
Sam Menda: Yes, it’s just a seven-minute ride. It’s very convenient.
HalloCasa: I have a question regarding mortgages, which is common for house buyers here with floating interest rates. However, in Germany, it’s not as common. I’ve heard concerns that in a few years, many people may struggle to meet their mortgage payments, potentially leading to an increase in supply and a readjustment of prices in Lisbon. Do you have any information on the ratio of fixed-rate mortgages versus floating-rate mortgages? How does it compare globally?
Sam Menda: I don’t think it will be as severe as people fear. Lessons were learned from the 2008 crisis, and those living on the edge tend to avoid variable rates. While some investors opt for variable-rate mortgages, they typically have a shorter repayment period and focus on maximizing their cash-on-cash return. They renovate properties, hold them temporarily, and then sell, so even if interest rates rise significantly, it’s manageable. Personally, I chose a fixed-rate mortgage for my house.
HalloCasa: That’s understandable. On a different note, it seems that acquiring new real estate for tourist purposes is challenging due to limited inventory and regulations.
Sam Menda: Yes, when making a purchase, even if the apartment has a local license, that license cannot be transferred to the new owner. Obtaining a new AL (Alojamento Local) license is no longer possible in Lisbon for any type of real estate, whether it’s an apartment or something else.
HalloCasa: However, it’s interesting to note that many people used to obtain a golden visa through a company rather than directly through real estate. This has led to a significant amount of real estate being owned by companies.
Sam Menda: It’s possible that the tax benefits associated with owning property through a company contribute to this trend. Even if there’s only one apartment and a single owner, they prefer to establish a company and make the purchase under the company’s name rather than buying it personally. The tax advantages might play a role in this decision.
HalloCasa: That’s very interesting. Now let’s talk about Seed Real Estate. Can you provide an overview of the services you offer? I also mentioned earlier your international and digital approach and how you strive to serve your clients uniquely.

Revolutionizing the Real Estate Service Industry through Availability, Collaboration, and Visual Marketing

Sam Menda: When we established this company with Eden, one of our main goals was to revolutionize the real estate service industry. As you may have experienced, the market can be quite old-fashioned and in need of improvement, especially in Portugal. Many people view real estate as a side gig or part-time job, resulting in agents who are not fully available. Our promise to ourselves is to be 100% available at all times, with our complete focus on our clients’ needs.
In addition, teamwork is vital to us. While real estate agents typically work individually, we have created a system and structure that encourages collaboration among all our agents. When we bring a property, all agents have a team visit and familiarize themselves with it. They share the property on their social media and networks, collectively working to sell it. This unified approach makes all Seed agents function as a cohesive and efficient team.
Moreover, given my background in visual arts and directing, we place a significant emphasis on video marketing. Even for properties in need of renovation or located in remote areas, we ensure professional filming, editing, and high-quality presentation. We have a dedicated studio within our company that provides these services not only for property shoots but also for creating content for the company and individual agents’ social media. Our aim is to help our agents grow alongside us, fostering a sense of family and collective success.
HalloCasa: That’s an excellent point. I believe your approach is especially attractive to younger agents who value the power of visuals and social media. In contrast, some real estate brokerages may stick to old-fashioned styles and hesitate to try new things or break their existing systems to avoid jeopardizing their brand. Do you think this differentiation not only benefits your clients but also helps you attract top talent and build a strong team, creating a positive cycle of growth and success?
Sam Menda: Absolutely. That was one of our main goals. It’s not just about finding skilled brokers; their personalities also play a crucial role. We have conducted numerous interviews with talented agents, agency owners, and managers, but not all of them were the right fit for our structure. It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be successful or valuable elsewhere, but they simply didn’t align with our long-term plans.
HalloCasa: That makes perfect sense. Now, let’s discuss your service offerings in more detail. Could you provide an overview of the specific services you provide to clients throughout their real estate journey? You mentioned earlier that you also offer property management and have an extensive network. From the perspective of both sellers and buyers, what can clients expect from the services you offer?

Streamlining the Selling Process: Expertise, Education, and Overcoming Challenges

Sam Menda: That’s great that you brought up our services. Let’s start with sellers, who are the actual property owners. We offer two service options: standard and premium.
Regardless of the chosen option, we leverage the power of Seed Studio for all marketing and visual elements. Additionally, we conduct comprehensive market studies using various tools available in Portugal. When we engage with the property owner, we want them to feel our expertise and confidence in the market and our profession. We aim to demonstrate that we are the right professionals to handle their transaction.
By showcasing our knowledge and capabilities, sellers become more comfortable with the idea of working with real estate agents. Many people initially think that the 5% commission fee is too high and consider selling the property themselves to save money.
However, working with a skilled agent can actually yield much higher returns. In most cases, investors negotiate around a 20% increase in their investment. So, attempting to save 5% by going solo can result in a significant loss.
Additionally, sellers may lack the time and resources to conduct thorough screenings, coordinate property visits, and avoid the risks associated with private sellers. Investors, in particular, prefer working with professionals who can provide accurate assessments and navigate the deal process efficiently.
Part of our job is also educating the property owner on the benefits of working with a real estate agency. However, we recognize that we may not always be the right fit for every property. If we feel that we cannot deliver the desired results, we will decline the opportunity.
Unrealistic expectations from sellers, often fueled by sentimental attachments, can also pose challenges. For instance, they may place sentimental value on their property based on memories and personal experiences. However, investors prioritize market value, and that’s where the market study becomes crucial. We need to explain the market realities and strive to achieve the best possible value.
While negotiating on their behalf is our expertise, there are limits to what we can achieve. It’s important to make sellers understand this through data-driven explanations. By presenting data from multiple reliable sources, we help sellers make informed decisions based on market insights rather than personal opinions.
In summary, our goal is to guide and educate property owners, ensuring they understand the value we bring as real estate agents. We rely on thorough market analysis, professional marketing, and negotiation expertise to achieve optimal outcomes. However, we always prioritize transparency and aligning our clients’ expectations with market realities.
When it comes to the selling process, there are various challenges that can arise. These challenges can range from legal and permission-related issues to ensuring accurate appraisals and even managing people and their emotions. It’s a diverse landscape, and each case is unique, making it challenging to provide a generalized answer.
However, one constant challenge that we often encounter is the presence of bureaucratic hurdles. Dealing with these issues can be time-consuming and complex. To address this, we have established a network of trusted professionals who offer comprehensive services to support our clients throughout the real estate buying process. Our roster includes accountants, lawyers, architects, engineers, mortgage brokers, bank managers, and even interior designers. These partners work closely with us to ensure a seamless experience for our clients.
Additionally, since we cater to a significant number of international investors who may not be physically present, we have an in-house property management department. This department handles tasks such as managing apartments, finding suitable tenants, attending condominium meetings, resolving any issues that may arise, coordinating cleaning services, and maximizing rentability through international portals. Ultimately, our goal is to provide investors with a hassle-free experience, ensuring they receive their rental income promptly at the end of each month.

Remote Investments and Trust: Navigating Property Purchases without Physical Visits

HalloCasa: Are there any specific geographical areas where these investors are primarily coming from?
Sam Menda: In the Portuguese market, the majority of investors are from France, followed by Brazilians and British. In the past year, there has been a significant increase in investors from the United States. Additionally, there is a notable presence of investors from Asia and the Middle East, particularly those seeking the Golden Visa and European citizenship. We also have a considerable number of investors from Turkey who have discovered Portugal, as well as developers from Israel who are focused on profitable investments. It’s an interesting mix.
HalloCasa: Have you ever encountered cases where someone bought a property blindly, without physically visiting it?
Sam Menda: Yes, indeed. It has happened many times.
HalloCasa: How does that process work? Do they provide you with a power of attorney to handle the legal aspects? Since digital signatures are not government-approved.
Sam Menda: Yes, exactly. The actual signing of documents requires a power of attorney. However, prior to that, it’s based on the trust our clients have in us. We personally inspect the properties and provide video visits, along with all the necessary legal documents. We also connect them with our trusted lawyers who thoroughly review the documentation to ensure there are no legal issues. Additionally, we take an extra step by contacting every neighbor in the building to gather inside information. Transparency is crucial, and we want to ensure there are no surprises or hidden problems associated with the property.
HalloCasa: Do you utilize any software tools that enhance your service and provide transparency to investors? For example, 3D visits. You mentioned video visits, but I’m curious if there are additional tools that contribute to investors feeling fully informed and confident in their decision-making process. Sometimes we tend to focus on new tools and their potential takeover. So, my question is, what kind of information and visual content do investors who buy blindly consider sufficient to have a comprehensive understanding and feel confident in their decision?
Sam Menda: Yes, honesty is a fundamental aspect of our service, and it’s one of the three main keywords in our slogan. We prioritize being honest, interactive, and different. Time is valuable to us, so we ensure that when we capture the property, we provide every possible angle, including the negatives. We aim to find solutions for any drawbacks because sometimes properties do have flaws. However, we don’t want to conceal anything. For instance, if there’s a rundown yard in front of the property, we show it as it is. We don’t want buyers to waste their time on unnecessary visits and end up disappointed. Transparency is key, not only for credibility and reputation but also to save everyone’s time.
When scheduling visits, we typically narrow it down to a few options, and the buyer chooses from there. By that point, we have thoroughly examined and conducted market studies to determine the potential rental income. We use a specially designed Excel sheet that calculates all the investment aspects, such as taxes, expenses, and net earnings at the end of the year. Seeing the numbers can significantly impact the decision-making process. We discuss these details with clients early on because they may not be aware of taxes, legal costs, management services, or the time required for renovations. Calculating all these factors helps us identify whether a property is a good fit or not, even if it may appear appealing at first glance.
HalloCasa: Is that because you might not be able to rent it out for a few months due to transaction fees?
Sam Menda: Yes, exactly. It’s a consideration, especially for first-time property owners and those planning to rent it out. The price of the property also plays a role. We take all these factors into

Remote Property Purchases in Portugal: Navigating Taxes, Transfers, and Contracts


HalloCasa: Are property taxes in Portugal a fixed percentage or is it variable, like around 10% to 20% or 5%?
Sam Menda: No, property taxes are fixed at the time of purchase. However, the specific percentage depends on the location in Portugal, whether it’s on the mainland or an island. It also varies based on whether you’ll be living in the property or renting it out for income.
HalloCasa: That makes sense. Thank you for clarifying. Regarding transferring the money, if I’m located in Shanghai and working with Seed Investor, where do I transfer the funds? Is there a specific bank or institution involved in the process?
Sam Menda: When you purchase a property in Portugal, the money must be transferred from a Portuguese bank account. As part of the preparation process, we strongly recommend that buyers take certain steps before we begin searching for properties. First, they need to obtain a Portuguese tax number. Our company can provide this service in-house, eliminating the need for clients to seek external legal or accounting assistance at a higher cost. Once they have their tax number, they need to open a Portuguese bank account for themselves. Ultimately, they transfer their funds to their own account in Portugal.
HalloCasa: Can these steps be completed remotely, without the need for clients to travel to Portugal?
Sam Menda: Yes, both obtaining the tax number and opening a bank account can be done remotely. Clients don’t need to physically come to Portugal for these processes.
We work with our partner banks, and their managers handle the process. When it comes to transferring funds, clients will need to provide documents to verify the source of the money, especially if it’s from a non-EU country. They will ask for information on how you obtained the funds, such as selling a property or your employment history.
HalloCasa: That makes sense. So, for obtaining the tax number and opening a bank account, I don’t need to travel to Lisbon?
Sam Menda: No, there’s no need to travel. However, keep in mind that banks require a physical signature, so it may take some time for them to send the contract to your country. It could take a couple of weeks for you to sign and return the contract, and then another few weeks to open your bank account.
HalloCasa: I see. That makes sense.
Sam Menda: Once you are committed to buying the real estate, whether you’re here or remote, the down payment is essential to reserve the property. There are a couple of options for this. First, you can have a reservation contract where you typically provide a deposit of around five to 10,000 euros. It’s a simple one-page contract that takes the property off the market. If you need to visit the property and check the documents, once everything is satisfactory, you proceed to sign a more binding contract called the promissory contract (CPCV in Portugal). Usually, you pay around 20% of the property value at this stage. Finally, at the deed, you pay the remaining balance.
HalloCasa: I understand. In other countries, if I back out after either the first or even the second contract, I would lose the money. Is it the same in Portugal?
Sam Menda: It depends on the clauses you include in the contracts. You can customize them to your preferences. In some cases, if you back out, you may not only lose the money but also be required to pay a penalty. However, you can include clauses to ensure transparency and build trust in the deal.
HalloCasa: That’s good to know. Regarding your service offerings, we’ve discussed a lot, but is there anything else you would like to mention?

Final Words

That’s good to know. Regarding your service offerings, we’ve discussed a lot, but is there anything else you would like to mention?
Sam Menda: One thing worth mentioning is that we offer open house events for sellers, which is not very common in Portugal. These events, especially for our exclusive sellers, have been quite successful. We believe in the power of networking, so we invite other agencies, buyers, and professionals in the industry to these events.
We’ve recently moved to a larger office to accommodate these networking events and have started organizing fun and engaging parties instead of traditional presentations. It’s a way for people to have fun, network, and potentially win exciting prizes. We have an upcoming event in a few weeks, and I hope you had a great time at our last event.
HalloCasa: I had a great time during our conversation. I really appreciated the fact that you didn’t have a sales pitch and made the event more enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot from our talk.
Sam Menda: That’s what we aim for in our events. We believe that by having fun and networking, business opportunities naturally arise.
HalloCasa: I’ve truly enjoyed our discussion so far. I learned a great deal, from your journey in film and advertising to how you entered the real estate industry and the interesting story about lead generation. Your approach seems to challenge traditional norms, like with the Seed events and embracing virtual assistance. You’ve provided valuable insights about Portugal and Lisbon, and your transparent services for international investors. I appreciate your willingness to answer all my questions and share your knowledge.
Sam Menda: Thank you for having me on your podcast. It’s been a pleasure talking to you. I didn’t even realize how much time has passed. In closing, as they say in real estate, the best time to buy property is yesterday, but it’s never too late to start today.
HalloCasa: I like it. Thank you so much for the closing for the closing words.
I really appreciate it. And yeah, we, we see each other soon and we, we stay in contact. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. Thank you.
Sam Menda: Thank you.