Provisional data from the Portuguese Real Estate Agents Association reveals that more than one in five residences sold in Portugal last year were bought by a foreigner. Demand from overseas property buyers is sustaining expansion of the country’s property market at double-digit rates

The British were in top place among the 23,000 buyers last year, followed by Chinese and French.  Portugal has now surpassed Morocco as the top foreign destination for French retirees.

“The property market grew by between 9% and 15% in 2014,” says Luis Lima, the head of the association, adding: “If it hadn’t been for the Banco Espirito Santo [BES] debacle and the golden visas scandal it would have been 25%.”

Concerns were raised about the integrity of the Portuguese property market following the collapse of BES amid suspicions of multinational accounting fraud. The visa scandal saw senior officials resign following allegations of corruption in the authorisation and fast-tracking of certain ‘Golden Visas’ aimed at foreign property investors.

“We’ve seen a small drop in demand from the Chinese since the visa scandal in November, but the number of French moving into Portugal has exploded,” adds Miguel Poisson, director of the ERA real estate agency network in Portugal.