Boa Vista, Cape Verde
Cape Verde has emerged in recent years as an ideal choice for a year-round beach-side holiday home that combines the best bits of the Caribbean and Canaries but avoids some of their downsides. The islands come in a variety of styles, and prices.
Confidence has returned to the Cape Verde property market after a couple of years where this Atlantic archipelago, 300 miles off Africa’s west coast, dropped off the overseas homes radar a little.
The new confidence comes after some classy landmark developments sold out off-plan, and the new realisation that Cape Verde is a tourist destination where you can have a really good time, all year.
The market fundamentals have remained good: Cape Verde is an African success story – peaceful and friendly, with low crime and a stable government. That stability – and winter sunshine – has prompted the world’s big holiday companies to invest large-scale in land, hotel and golf developments, which has in turn paid for infrastructure upgrades.
Real estate services provider Savills predicts up to nine per cent capital growth per annum over the next few years, and even higher rental yields.
First up is the island of Sal, which has direct flights from the UK. It's flat, dry and can seem desolate on first arrival, but visitors soon come to appreciate the beauty of its deserts and volcanic calderas, and of its two main towns; the fishing village turned tourist town Santa Maria and the capital Espargos. The beaches are sensational, the Atlantic waters perfect for sailing, windsurfing and whale watching, and with just enough interesting restaurants and bars. Most tourism - and holiday properties - is on self-contained resorts though, including some eye-catching new, five-star developments that sold out quickly even with apartments starting at €130,000. Then again, you can buy resale apartments in central Santa Maria for a quarter of that.
Of the other islands, Boa Vista perhaps attracts the most praise for its 55 kilometres of white sand beachfront but combined with a slightly greener interior. It also has a new international airport with more and more holiday companies offering it as a destination, the fringe benefit for homeowners being the possibility of cheap charter flights direct from the UK. Prices for small apartments start at around €50,000, villas from €200,000, and look out especially for Santa Monica beach, or for property with access to the nightlife and music of the capital Sal Rei.
The largest island in the archipelago is Santiago, which is much more verdant, tropical and mountainous than the others, with a eucalyptus forest. It has agriculture, with crops of bananas, mango and coffee, and the capital of Cape Verde – Praia. Hence it is also the cultural centre of the islands, and the historical centre too, with old colonial buildings. Prices across the island go from around €80,000 for an apartment, €250,000 for a villa, but there are always distressed sales and motivated sellers with bargains to off-load.
Foreigners are allowed to buy freehold property in Cape Verde, where buying follows much the same process as in Portugal, but with the added complication of there being rather fewer lawyers than in Portugal. Firstly you will need to get a Personal Fiscal Number - your agent will help you do this. Following the initial verbal agreement to buy, when you are completely certain you sign the Promissory Contract and hand over a deposit of around 10 per cent. After your lawyer has conducted searches and all the legal processes hav been followed, you sign the Escritura in the presence of the notary to complete the purchase and pay the balance. The process is relatively quick, with only three to four weeks between the Promissory Contract and the Escritura. Many buyers give power of attorney to the lawyer to save repeated trips to the islands.
Buying costs, taxes and fees generally add around six per cent to the purchase price. Regular repayment mortgages are available, but not buy-to-let or interest only mortgages.
Mortgages are generally only available on built property, not off-plan. To get round this many buyers remortgage their UK property, use their savings, or arrange special stage payment loans.