The super-prime properties of the Algarve

The super-prime properties of the Algarve

By: Ana Tavares

In these houses, the price is as incredible as their features. Put aside a couple million euros — Essential entered the real world of luxury real estate

To describe them as spectacular, magnificent or impressive almost seems like a euphemism. These properties are all that and more, deserving of the title ‘super-prime’ – the most unique and expensive on the market. For more than €5 million, depending on which part of the Algarve you prefer, you will be able to find “that” house, with breathtaking views, infinity pools, manicured gardens, boundless indoor space, a cinema room and finishes worthy of a sheik.

In short, a house just like the one that real estate agent QP Savills has on its books in Vale do Lobo: nine bedrooms, an area of more than 2,000sqm and a cool €20 million price tag. Yes, you read that right. €20 million. The value is unprecedented in the Algarve, assures Maria Nobre de Carvalho, communication and marketing manager of QP Savills, better know as Quinta Properties, which has been based in the Algarve for 20 years and opened its second agency, in Vale do Lobo exactly, around a year ago. “It’s a new and innovative property, the first of its kind in the Algarve. And it’s certainly the first in this region in this price range.”

With an award-winning interior decor, nine suites, luxury finishes and views of the sea and Vale do Lobo golf course, the property stands on more than 3,000sqm of land, in a privileged location in the Algarvean resort. What makes it unique is the quality of materials used and its dimension: the huge infinity pool is heated, there is a sauna and gym, a games room with bar, cinema room, garage for six cars, outdoor kitchen, an elegant office, a dining area in the kitchen and another separate, more formal one, a kitchen with a walk-in fridge, an elevator and even a staff area, with their own living room, kitchenette and bathroom. “It was built following the highest possible standards and it’s impeccable,” says the agent. “Our opinion is that, once sold, it will open up a new market in the area – which boasts many luxury houses, but never above the €15 million threshold.”

Vale do Lobo

In fact, according to the May monthly report prepared by Quinta Properties, demand has risen in all market segments, including the highest, which covers houses valued at tens of millions of euros. However, this segment remains a niche sector, largely because of the lack of stock of properties above the €10 million mark. Confirming the existing demand in this segment, the real estate agent sold another ‘super-prime’ property in June this year, valued at €12 million and with more than enough reasons to win over its buyer, namely a privileged location with views of the South Golf Course fairway in Quinta do Lago.

But buyers can also create their own reasons. In Vale do Lobo, besides the various luxury villas, there are also plots for sale, with golf course or sea views. According to Alda Filipe, sales and marketing director of the luxury resort, a property that “illustrates all the possibilities for owners that want to build their dream home in the Algarve in a privileged location” is the Infinity Villa: a magnificent seafront home with five bedrooms and panoramic ocean views, right in the heart of the Oceano Clube, one of the “last havens on the coastal frontline in Portugal”.

“The property was conceived to incorporate contemporary influences and natural elements to create a charismatic and impressive house, fitting for a life of luxury all year round,” she explains. This natural backdrop, combined with the latest technology spread across the entire property, created a house with “endless possibilities” and an asking price of €8 million. Besides the direct access to the beach, the property also has an extraordinary infinity pool and a garden split into two levels. It’s on the market furnished and equipped, and even includes golf and wellness memberships for two people. Highlighting that clients prefer Vale do Lobo for both permanent residence and as a holiday home, Alda Filipe says that “there isn’t just one buyer profile in Vale do Lobo, because the resort appeals to a wide spectrum of nationalities, ages and professions”.

Luxury plots

Monika Huhn, responsible for sales and marketing at Fine & Country Carvoeiro, says that most of the clients who come into the agency are looking for holiday homes. However, few want properties costing millions. “This segment, of this type of luxury houses, isn’t very common in the Carvoeiro area. Average sale prices here are somewhere in the €600,000 region,” she notes.

But while the rest of the Algarve might not have the premium character of the Golden Triangle, the name given to the area between Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, it doesn’t mean there aren’t incredibly charming places just waiting to be discovered. One thing is for sure: you can get more for your millions away from the traditional luxury areas. A good example of this is Casa Torrados, which Fine & Country has for sale in the Carvoeiro/Ferragudo area for a modest €5.5 million.

“The property is being built on a peninsula and will have privileged panoramic ocean views, completely unobstructed because it’s an environmental zone and nothing can be built in front,” says Monika Huhn. The highlight, which the agent considers “uncommon for the Carvoeiro area”, is the size of the plot – almost 23,000sqm, with a construction area of almost 1,500sqm. Featuring seven bedrooms, a rustic yet contemporary décor and located on the cliff-top, the property’s views are breathtaking. Its location, on the road that connects Carvoeiro to Ferragudo, also offers easy access to beaches, restaurants and supermarkets.

Although unusual, plots of this size can still be found outside the Golden Triangle: the real estate agency Portman Properties, in Quinta do Lago, has in its portfolio a seven-bedroom house with a plot of almost 22,500sqm in Ludo, Faro, just outside Quinta do Lago. On the market for €5.75 million, the three-storey, 900sqm house features a heated pool, home cinema, games room with bar, tennis court and a minimal, elegant design.

Portman Properties

“In keeping with current regulations, it’s impossible to build a property of this size outside of a resort, unless there is already a property there of the same dimension,” explains Sílvia Nogueira from Portman Properties. “There are very few properties of this size in the Algarve (…). It’s a special property for a demanding buyer. The buyer will be someone who lives in the Algarve or who plans to spend most of the year here; a buyer who wants complete privacy, the convenience of being close to 5-star golf resorts and the airport, but without the usual tourist commotion,” she adds.

Those looking for luxury away from the usual tourist areas, but close enough to the Algarve movida, will gravitate towards properties like the five-bedroom cliff-top house in Galé, offered by the Seven Quintas agency in Almancil. Built in 1969 and owned by the same family ever since, the property features four suites on the ground floor and a bedroom on the first floor, a huge living room with sea views, a renovated, generous kitchen with an island, and access to the terrace and outdoor kitchen with barbecue, which is near to the heated pool. “It was one of the very first houses to be built on that coastline and has a unique charm,” says Hildegard Borkent, director of Seven Quintas.

Hildegard also believes there are real treasures away from the big developments: “High-end properties are doing very well at the moment, although most of the buyers in this price range are looking to buy into Quinta do Lago. But there are no properties like this one in Quinta do Lago.” More traditional and Algarvean in style, with Santa Catarina bricks in several rooms and plenty of character, the property has a tennis court, a two-bedroom annex – excellent to receive guests – and a roof and master-suite that were renovated in 2015. It offers almost 20,000sqm of land and 460sqm of building for €6.5 million.

For Sandra Matos, director of Engel & Völkers in Lagos, “demand for exclusive properties has increased over the last few years, not only in more established and internationally recognised areas, but also in other areas further west”. What also changed were the property features prioritised by the buyer: “While in the recent past it was more important to be in a resort with security and services, now we see more demand for unique locations with privacy – farms, historical properties to be renovated and, above all, houses on the coast with sea views and privileged access to the beach.”

With nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms and stunning views over Lagos bay, the next ‘super-prime’ property fits this description to a T. For €8.5 million, the buyer can secure an exclusive property above Pinhão beach, “in the noblest area of the Algarvean coast, while still being walking distance to Lagos city centre – difficult qualities to combine in a single property”. Besides that, there is an additional 100sqm guesthouse that is completely independent.

For these buyers, who, according to the director, “require a customised treatment, appreciating confidentiality”, Engel & Völkers has its own department specialising in this type of properties, the Private Office, with headquarters in Hamburg, Germany. “We can accompany [the buyer] in buying a yacht, a private jet or a one-of-a-kind property.”

The Algarve appeal

Abloom Properties

Just as the director of Engel & Völkers stresses the importance of Portugal being named the 19th best place to do business in 2017 (ahead of Germany) by Forbes magazine, Marcella Spee Horta e Costa, founder and general manager of Abloom Properties in Almancil, also highlights that the ‘super-prime’ property market is “motivated mainly by the general and future expectations regarding the security of the political, environmental and economic climate”. The Algarve has stood out compared to other tourist destinations as a safe, stable region with good infrastructures, along with the already recognised Portuguese hospitality.

A buyer who falls in love with these conditions could purchase the majestic Arabic-style property that Abloom has for sale near Albufeira. The €8 million price tag gives you a house measuring almost 1,500sqm, with a style unique on the market and a truly unequalled architecture, as well as a plot of enormous proportions, with more than 34,000sqm that includes its own olive grove. With four bedrooms, six bathrooms, an elevator, pool, gym, Turkish bath, sauna, hot tub and even a library, the property also features staff accommodation and stands out for its typically southern European architecture, with beautiful wooden beams in the ceiling.

One Select Properties

For Sofia Castro, manager of One Select Properties in Quinta do Lago, clients of this type of properties are high-net-worth individuals who “are beginning to have a special interest in the quality of the properties available in this area of the Algarve”. She adds: “They appreciate the exclusivity of the location, the proximity to any European airport and the welcoming way in which they are received by the Portuguese.”

Although these extraordinary houses can be used as main residence or for holidays, the manager of One Select notes that, “in the current economic and financial conditions, the luxury real estate market is actually the best in which to invest, combining potential profit and the enjoyment of an unequalled property, surrounded by exclusivity and sophistication”. While the exact value of the property can’t be revealed – the seller requests discretion –, the agency’s portfolio includes a house that will certainly please these clients.

“This property stands out for its extraordinary quality of construction, the excellent areas of all the rooms, a unique view of the Ria Formosa, a wide expanse of manicured gardens with small waterfalls, a pool with generous dimensions and a covered barbecue area for al fresco meals,” describes Sofia Castro. Villa Melody in Quinta do Lago has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and 830sqm. Offering sea views, gardens and a pond, the incredible villa, built in 2010, is nestled in one of the resort’s most prestigious areas: Parque Atlântico. Along with classic finishes and a traditional design, the location is the calling card of this property, which is perfectly suitable for luxury outdoor living thanks to its impeccable gardens and inviting outdoor eating area. We persist: the price? “Over €6 million,” says Sofia Castro vaguely. Super prices for super houses.

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