Abandoned buildings are present in cities around the world for a variety of reasons. In Europe, as in America, they have come to represent the aftermath of the recession, which countries are still climbing back from. Now, though, three intrepid architects have come up with a way to capitalise on the previous downturn: by launching a tour of Porto’s abandoned buildings.
Dubbed “The Worst Tours”, the range of excursions are designed to show tourists the parts of the city they would never see, from old project housing to graffiti-covered ruins.
One tour, titled “okupation”, says it will answer the following questions: “What does a primary school up on the Fontinha hill have in common with the closed library at Marquês Square? How has Porto dealt with the crisis? Are ocupations a way out in a city where there are so many empty buildings, and so many people without a home? Is property sacred? What is wrong with the city center?”
Porto is certainly the weakest of the country’s housing markets, according to the latest RICS/Ci survey, with rents still fallling sharply in the area. It is also telling that the tours are run by out-of-work architects: unemployment continues to be a problem for Portugal’s economy, although it has fallen from 15.1 per cent (Q1 2014) to 13.9 per cent (Q2 2014).
But The Worst Tours’ guides are not the only ones making the most of Portugal’s gradual rebound from recession: “Demand [for property] is increasing,” says CI Spokesman Ricardo Guimaraes. “This is partly related to small investors entering the real estate market due to risks in other asset classes and also as a form of protection from bank events like the ones that have recently occurred.”
The RICS/Ci report shows that while prices remain low, sales activity continues to recover, with the lettings sector also enjoying “relatively stable growth”.
The outlook is starting to look sunnier for Portugal’s housing market, as Lisbon and The Algarve lead demand Photo: Fraser Valley Pulse & Metro Vancouver Pulse
On TheMoveChannel.com, activity has risen too: enquiries for Portuguese property soared 39 per cent in the third quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter, as overseas investors return to the affordable, yet improving, market. The number of enquiries for property in Portugal received in September on TheMoveChannel.com were the highest recorded so far this year.
The RICS/Ci confidence index fell last month, from +23 to +9, as Portugal remains vulnerable to economic concerns surrounding the Eurozone, but it remains in positive territory. Indeed, the same measure in August 2014 found that confidence among agents and developers had risen to the highest level in the report’s history.
Tenant demand also rose in the lettings sector, says RICS/Ci, helping to slow the pace of decline in rents. While rental values have been falling since the survey began in 2011, they are now falling at their slowest pace to date. The continued fall is in part down to an overhang of rental stock on the market and part of this is because there is a mismatch between the type of rented stock available and the type in demand.
RICS Senior Economist Josh Miller says: “Activity in the sales market is recovering and house prices are stabilising. However, we are not out of the woods just yet. The drop in confidence this month reminds us that the Portuguese market remains vulnerable to renewed economic weakness in the Eurozone as a whole.”
Nonetheless, the latest statistics from Eurostat found that Portugal enjoyed a price growth of 5.9 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2014, the highest in Europe. As confidence stays positive and sales continue to climb, the shoots of recovery are taking root, encouraged by the sunny Algarve, growing optimism and Portugal’s Golden Visa for non-EU buyers.
It will be some time before Portugal revisits to its property heyday. Until then, though, there are always tours of abandoned buildings to pass the time.
Source: The Movechannel