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This Full

Nov 05, 2023Nov 05, 2023

Offering a perch over Avenida de Liberdade, one of Europe’s most iconic avenues, a 3,595-square-foot Portuguese penthouse on the market boasts 24 balconies with sweeping views of Lisbon’s historic center.

“This is the Champs-Elysees of Lisbon, with its broad lanes and roundabouts,” said Andrew Freire, team leader at the Agency in Lisbon and the listing agent. “You’re surrounded by luxury shops and the city’s best restaurants.”

With an asking price of €4.795 million (US$5.27 million), the listing reflects an insatiable appetite for Lisbon properties among foreign buyers, he said.

While the average price per square meter for Lisbon property is about €5,301, according to Portuguese real estate site Idealista, “properties like this one can now go above €11,000 or €12,000 per square meter,” Freire said. “Top prices in Lisbon are not far from the top of Paris.”

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According to data from Knight Frank, prime property prices in Lisbon rose 4.6% in the first quarter over the previous year.

About 21% of property sales in Lisbon involved foreign buyers in 2022, according to Idealista, a 0.9% increase over 2019. But the years in between included the pandemic, which essentially shut down sales to foreigners. Chinese buyers lead in non-resident purchases, followed by the French, according to Bank of Portugal data, which also revealed that average transaction value for non-resident purchases was 143% higher than for domestic Portuguese buyers.

The sellers of this four-bedroom, five-bathroom apartment, spouses José Neto and Paulo Leal, combined two units to create the only penthouse in the five-story building, which has amenities including a spa, gym and 24-hour security. The penthouse occupies the entire top floor.

“The apartment’s sunny all day, with beautiful views,” said Neto, a Brazilian-born numismatist and onetime textile executive who also has homes with Leal in Sao Paulo and San Francisco. “The location situates you minutes from everything. And the four parking spaces are a unique feature for a European apartment.”

African kambala wood, prized for its durability, lines the walls of the apartment, whose sloping ceilings soar to more than 13 feet. The unit sprawls across three sections, Freire said. The living area includes the living and dining rooms, office and the kitchen. The owners’ private area features three bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and their own balconies. And a guest area, with its own entrance, offers its own en-suite bedroom.

Each of its 24 terraces is lushly landscaped with “flowers, vines, wisteria, and olive and pomegranate trees,” Freire said. The unit’s private parking spaces are a rarity in densely packed Lisbon, he added.

Local architects Aires Mateus designed the building; when the sellers combined units, they also engaged the firm to design the new floor plan and interiors.

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The white-stone building, completed in the early 20th century, was remodeled in 2020 to match its original architectural style. “It’s designed in the Pombaline style characteristic of Lisbon,” Freire said. “Many of our local architects make it a practice to integrate contemporary needs with local aesthetics and architecture.”

Freire said he expects a buyer to be “someone who wants to move to Portugal and is used to a level of detail and luxury and practicality.” Lisbon keeps drawing international luxury buyers because “Portugal is one of the safest countries in Europe and the world, with one of the highest English-language literacy levels in Europe. Most people you encounter will likely have some level of fluency.”

The recent phasing out of Portugal’s Golden Visa program, which helped fuel a property-investment boom in Lisbon and popular regions like Porto and the Algarve, has not affected luxury sales, Freire said. “The Golden Visa is important, but luxury buyers weren’t focused on it,” he said. “Only about 0.7% of total real estate sales had to do with the Golden Visa. Luxury buyers come here because they want something new and different, and they want comfort.”

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Americans have been buying Lisbon property in increasing numbers, Freire said. “Portugal used to be for the British, the Germans, Dutch and Brazilians,” he said. “Now, Americans are among the top five buyers in Portugal. They’re realizing it’s a six-hour flight from New York, and with a comfortable trip on a direct flight, you can have your ‘summer house’ in Lisbon.”

Last year, about 10,000 American citizens were living in Portugal, a 239% jump from 2017, according to reports. “They often compare life in Lisbon to the California lifestyle, where you’re 15 minutes to the water and 25 minutes to the beach. Plus, our airport is just 25 minutes from the center, which is very unusual for Europe.”

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