Interview in "Simply Algarve Magazine" - October 2020



We sat down with Paul Greenhalgh to learn about Compass Property Sales and also go indepth about the current property market


At the beginning of summer, a brand new real estate company opened its doors in Tavira in the East Algarve. Compass Property Sales is a fully licensed and independent real estate company focusing on property sales in both the East Algarve and the Central Algarve. We sent one of our reporters to meet with Paul Greenhalgh, one of the owners, to find out more about the new company and the property market in the Central Algarve.


Good afternoon Paul, so can you tell me a little background about Compass Property Sales?

Good afternoon to you. Sandra Swoboda, who is my business partner, and I have been selling property in the Algarve for many years – Sandra in the East Algarve since 2006 and myself in the Central Algarve since 2000. We discussed the idea of opening a new real estate business together and realized we had similar views on the direction we wanted to take the company. We spoke in depth about how to implement our ideas and we are proud to say that it culminated in the opening of the doors of Compass Property Sales in July of this year.


Who came up with the name for the company?

The name and the logo were actually Sandra´s idea. We did have a few other options in the mix but we quickly settled on Compass Property Sales. The company branding and the choosing of the colours took a little longer to agree upon, but we are all delighted with the finished look.


So which areas within the Central Algarve have you sold property in previously?

For the first 11 years I sold residential property and construction plots predominantly in developments within the “Golden Triangle”. However, by 2011, I decided to concentrate on selling properties outside of the developments (or as we refer to them – country properties) and so began my passion for selling away from the coast in and around Loule, Almancil, Sao Bras de Alportel, Boliqueime, Santa Barbara de Nexe and Estoi.


What is it about the Central Algarve that appeals to you?

For me it has to be the contrast of the area. On the one hand you have what we refer to as the “postcard Algarve” - miles and miles of stunning golden beaches, golf courses, bustling marinas, fabulous nightlife and the tourists that all this brings in. On the other, and just a few kilometres in land, you have the communities that live here all year round within the character rich Portuguese towns and villages. Each of these have their own identity having remained unchanged for generations and offer busy markets, various types of shops and superb value restaurants serving delicious local produce, all surrounded by huge areas of beautiful unspoilt countryside. 


Why did you choose Tavira for your office?

Due to the large area we cover, we wanted an office location that was easy to access for both our East Algarve clients as well as our Central Algarve clients. Our main office is located within a few km´s of the A22 and within 300 metres of the main “Sail“ roundabout just as you arrive into Tavira. Parking in downtown Tavira can be difficult, particularly in the warmer months when visitor numbers are higher but one of our biggest advantages is the fact that clients and customers visiting Compass Property Sales can park immediately outside.


You mention Tavira is your main office. Do you have another one?

Yes we do. It is an administrational office located in Loule used primarily to allow us to coordinate quickly and efficiently with our vendors and buyers in the Central Algarve. Having said that it only takes a little over 20 minutes on the A22 to drive between our Tavira office and our Loule office so we can respond to viewings and listings very quickly when required to do so. 


So which sales areas will you be covering with Compass Property Sales?

In the East Algarve it is from Sao Bras de Alportel to Vila Real de Santo Antonio. In the Central Algarve it is predominantly in and around Loule, Almancil, Sao Bras de Alportel, Santa Barbara de Nexe and Estoi.


Is understanding the Portuguese language and having experience important when selling properties in the Algarve?

Absolutely but particularly when listing and selling country properties. It is only through years of experience and having an in-depth knowledge of property sales and the values achieved that a good agent can offer owners realistic marketing valuations and strategies. In addition, understanding the numerous and varying rules and regulations about property allowances whilst being able to read and fully understand the Portuguese property documents is vital. Recognizing and addressing any property illegalities prior to finding a buyer will invariably assist in making sure the sales process is as smooth and as straight forward as possible. 


Is there a big difference between development properties and country properties?

Generally speaking yes. Normally within the developments, properties are built side by side and the construction size allowance is uniformed. Country properties, however, can vary enormously depending on location, age, plot size, council regulations, land classification, etc, and this gives buyers an interesting and much more diverse selection of property types to choose from. 


Are ex-pats buying “country properties” in the Central Algarve?

Increasingly so. Twenty years ago the majority of property enquiries in Central Algarve were for coastal development properties mainly for summer use with the most important criteria being access to a swimming pool and close proximity to the beach and restaurants. However, within the last 10 years we have seen a noticeable increase in buyers for the more affordable country properties with many of these looking to live in Portugal full time.


What is the demographic of the buyers for these country properties?

Predominantly British but with a healthy mixture other nationalities particularly from Northern Europe. Of these there are of course many retired couples but interestingly we are seeing more and more young families moving fulltime to the Algarve – proof of which can be seen in the increase in the number of International Schools opening. The rise in popularity of working from home over recent years combined with improved internet communication across the region and regular flight connections from Faro airport, has given many working parents the opportunity to commute between the country of their work and Portugal. With the fallout from Covid19 encouraging even greater numbers to work from home and the fact that more and more people are enquiring about low density living, we expect the demand for country properties to continue to increase.


Were you apprehensive about opening Compass Property Sales this year particularly with everything that is going on with Covid 19?

No not really. As individuals we have worked in the Algarve through other events that have had a detrimental effect on the property market such as 9-11, the aftermath of the Brexit decision and in particular the financial crash of 2008. As a result, we have witnessed demand for property dip and rise on numerous occasions and so if there was to be a decline in property purchases because of Covid19, history tells us demand will increase again. However contrary to some predictions, figures show that property sales have continued at a steady pace throughout the year albeit with slightly fewer transactions than we would have been expected in a normal year. However, if there is a second wave of Covid19 which forces further lockdowns within Europe, then the predicted damage to the various economies will almost certainly have a greater negative impact on property prices and sales.


Over the years we have heard plenty about the Non-Habitual Residency scheme. Is it still popular?

Yes and there are still many people taking advantage of the enormous tax saving incentives that the scheme offers. Over the course of the last year, we have met numerous Algarve homeowners who have taken advantage of the NHR programme. Unfortunately nearly all have had the same complaint about how they stumbled upon Portugal´s NHR programme and it was only through their own initiative and research that they saw the scheme´s potential. As a country and as professionals working within an industry that also benefits through property sales, I feel we need to be far more proactive in educating and advertising the advantages of the NHR whilst it is still a viable proposition.


How are you attracting new business for your company?              

We recognize the importance of a strong and sustainable marketing campaign in order to promote and grow business. To that end we are engaging in multiple channels of internet based marketing, utilizing different avenues within social media and property portals whilst developing our own SEO for our company website at . Running parallel to the internet-based marketing, we are enrolled in a committed campaign within various printed media publications to advertise the name of Compass Property Sales and also to showcase some of the fantastic properties we have for sale. So far, however, it has been the positive reaction we have received due to word of mouth that is bringing in the most business for us. Having so many past owners, clients, customers and colleagues happy to give us referrals and leads is crucial for any new business and we are incredibly grateful for this support.


There are many real estate agents, why should clients and customers choose Compass Property Sales?

Because of our experience, our drive and our absolute determination to be one of the best. The key attributes of being a good real estate agent is having a long history of successfully selling property combined with the ability to not only develop but also retain trusted relationships. Whilst the company may be new, collectively over many years we have impressive and proven sales figures as well as being extremely proud of the high number of owners, clients and customers that we still keep in contact with.


And finally is there anything you would like to say to the readers to help your business?

Well, yes absolutely. From the very beginning we were receiving enquiries for properties to purchase in and around Tavira so naturally our initial focus was direct listings in that area. However, we are now getting repeated requests from potential buyers looking for different styles and sizes of properties in the Central Algarve and in particular the areas in and around Sao Bras, Loule, Santa Barbara de Nexe and Estoi. At Compass Property Sales we offer a free, no obligation property assessment on all potential listings so if you are considering selling your property and you would like to discuss issues including value, marketing strategy or the property market in general, then please contact us and we will happily arrange a meeting with you.


Paul Greenhalgh

Managing Partner

Compass Property Sales

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

 Tel: +351 281 323 876