East Algarve Magazine interview - October 2022


It has been exactly two years since our last interview with Compass Property Sales at their offices located near the Sail roundabout at the entrance of Tavira, so we were keen to speak with the owners of the company, Sandra Swoboda & Paul Greenhalgh, to discuss what has been happening with Compass and to get their perspective of the property market within the East Algarve.


Last time we spoke we were in the early stages of the pandemic and you had just opened your new office. How has the property market, particularly in the East Algarve, reacted since then?


Considering the circumstances, exceptionally well. Nobody could predict the impact or length of the pandemic situation so naturally there was uncertainty within the industry on how the market would cope, but property sales during this period have actually been considerably better than any of us could have hoped for.  


So how have Compass´s sales figures faired during this time?

2020 was as forecasted, 2021 was well ahead of target, however 2022 has so far exceeded our most optimistic predictions. 


It is great to hear you are going from strength to strength, so where have all the buyers been coming from?

Initially they were mainly from those already living in Portugal looking to up or downsize. Overseas buyers were not able to fly due to the lockdowns and even when these were lifted, the quarantine rules were changing from one week to the next giving little confidence to those looking to travel to the Algarve. Once restrictions eased and confidence returned, our buyer pool from outside Portugal also began growing and contributing to an already strong property market and creating an unprecedented demand for properties not seen previously this century.


What areas have you been selling?

The vast majority of our sales have been in Tavira and within the immediate surroundings, but we have had property sales the whole way all along the East coastline and in land up to Faz Fato and Sao Bras. Running parallel to our East Algarve portfolio, we are now actively pursuing more property listings in the Central Algarve incorporating the fantastic areas of Sao Bras, Santa Barbara, Estoi and Loule.


As is evident from what you are saying and watching the new construction going up, I am curious as to why you feel the East Algarve is becoming more popular with property buyers?

Primarily because Tavira and the rest of the Eastern Algarve has retained its history and tradition and still offers more of an authentic, unspoilt Portugal, which has an enormous pull. For those of us lucky enough to live and work here, we are already familiar with the charm and appeal of Tavira and the surrounding areas and there is no doubt the region is becoming more popular.  With the ending of two years of restrictions whilst living in the colder and wetter countries of Northern Europe, we witnessed greater numbers of buyers looking to take advantage of all the East Algarve has to offer. And with the property prices generally being lower in the East Algarve than those in the Central Algarve, we are able to offer more property choice at lower price points.


Have you noticed an increase from other nationalities looking to buy property?

Yes and particularly from the United States of America. Information from various sources confirm that there has been targeted advertising in the USA with Tavira being touted as one of the best places to retire in Europe. This combined with a very favourable Dollar to Euro rate for the Americans and the cost of living in the USA continuing to spiral upwards, many Americans are making the move to Portugal and in particular the East Algarve.


Presumably with all the movement, the property prices have increased?

Yes they have and particularly in the last 3 years fuelled by the noticeable increase in both the holiday home purchases and the number of people buying property to live permanently in the Algarve – both working families and those of retirement age. With low interest rates and poor returns within the markets, we are also witnessing investors adding property to their portfolios. Combine this with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine playing its part in increased construction costs and property prices have inevitably gone up. Prices within the resale market are also increasing taking advantage of the high demand for property as well as the higher priced new build properties.  


Do you think these price increases are sustainable?

At the rate we have been experiencing for the last 3 years, no. During this time it has undoubtedly been a strong seller’s market but now with inflation, rising energy costs, mortgage increases etc all starting to bite, it will have an impact on the property market. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the property market in the Algarve does need to realign itself. However, if the aftermath of 9-11, the 2008 credit crunch and Brexit are anything to go by, we should see demand for property slow and prices plateau rather than fall. It is important to remember that the vast majority of ex pats that own property are in the fortunate position that they do not have to sell in a slower market meaning the general trend for prices is for them to remain relatively static. 


So, is there anything new happening with Compass Property Sales?

The limited number of physical viewings taking place during the pandemic reinforced our commitment to give prospective buyers high quality online presentations. Even though traditional viewings are taking place again we have always recognized the value in having an impressive online presence. We already offer our vendors all expenses paid professional photography, drone and video walk through presentations which has proven to be a very useful and extremely successful tool. We are continually looking at ways to improve the marketing and presentation of our vendors´ properties and to that end we are currently in the process of acquiring high quality 360° Virtual Tour Experience equipment that will offer virtual tours of select properties allowing prospective buyers the opportunity to have immersive tours of properties from the comfort of their own home. 


Do you think that virtual tours will replace physical ones?

No matter how well a property is presented online, there is no technology that can replicate a physical viewing. However, as most buyers start their property search online, offering more complete and realistic presentations of property can save precious time on wasted viewings.


As a business, what areas are you looking to strengthen

Due to the high quantity of sales we have successfully brokered, particularly this year, our portfolio of properties is running low. We are therefore urgently looking for new property listings particularly in and around Tavira, the Tavira countryside, Moncarapacho, Fuseta, Sao Bras and Santa Catarina. At Compass Property Sales we offer a completely free, no obligation property assessment so if there are any readers considering selling their properties, then please contact us and we will happily discuss how best we can assist you. Alternatively, our office hours are weekdays 9.00am to 5.30pm and we are always available to meet and chat with prospective sellers.


Finally have you any advice for buyers looking to purchase a property in the East Algarve?

The most important aspect of buying a property is choosing a reputable and highly experienced agency real estate company to work with. Whether it is your first property being purchased in Portugal or the third or fourth, it is vital that you deal with a local and fully licenced real estate company. By visiting the agency´s offices for an introductory chat and coffee or by analysing the agency´s website, buyers will be able to determine very quickly which company is active in the market and therefore best placed to be able to find you the right property and make sure the purchase transaction runs as smoothly as possible.


Secondly, in Portugal properties can and are regularly marketed by more than one real estate agent and it is not uncommon to have more than one interested party going after the same property. As we have mentioned, there is a real lack of properties on the market in the Algarve at the moment and we do not envisage this changing anytime soon. So if you are lucky enough to have found your perfect property, then please act quickly just to avoid the risk of disappointment by losing out to another buyer.


Sandra Swoboda & Paul Greenhalgh

Compass Property Sales

Rua de Santo Estevão, Nº 25A, 8800-386 Tavira

 Tel: +351 281 323 876