Golden Visa Funds in Portugal - The BIG Questions

As somebody who’s been working with GV investors for 7 years, I find this thread fascinating. It’s highlighted the wide range of preferences when it comes to selecting an investment and also how confusing the market is for would-be investors.

I am a newly verified user here and I’ve been asked to provide useful information to the community.

I’m curious to understand more about the experience you’re all going through and hope to find ways to make it easier. With that in mind, if anyone is willing to share their ideas with me, I’d really like to hear your thoughts and opinions on the following:

  1. Funds vs real estate: How do you choose?
  2. How do you discover/connect with funds?
  3. How do you source and select your lawyers?

I get the sense that many people on this thread have doubts about the rules relating to the fund route and I’d like to understand why.

  1. What are your biggest doubts about the fund route in general?
  2. Apart from here, where do you go to seek clarity on those doubts?

In more specific terms;

  1. What are the top 5 things you look for in a fund?
  2. Which is more important to you; Capital Preservation or Capital Gains?
  3. What is the minimum annual distribution % you are considering?
  4. What sort of profit target are you hoping for upon exit?
  5. What do you consider to be a fair subscription fee?
  6. What do you consider to be a fair performance fee?
  7. How do you gain confidence in a fund/fund manager/advisor?
  8. What puts you off when speaking with fund managers/advisors?
  9. What is motivating so many of you to seek diversification between multiple funds? (I understand the benefits of diversification but it gives me the sense that investors don’t have enough confidence in a single fund)

It’s obvious to anyone who’s done even a little research that there are a lot of GV-eligible “VC funds” based around real estate. I can see in the thread that people have been questioning how they qualify and I’ve noticed that, fortunately, @Kevin33 and @jb4422 have already figured it out.

This leads me to my final questions…

  1. Do you consider real estate-based funds to be appealing and, if so, why?
  2. If not a real estate fund, which of the investment areas would be more appealing?
  • Venture Capital for startups and, if so, in which sectors?
  • Energy: renewable or non-renewable?
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Environmental investment projects
  • Social investment projects

I appreciate anyone taking the time to answer these questions and look forward to learning more about your preferences and experiences. If anyone would prefer to do so privately, please feel free to send me an email via my profile.

Thanks,

Tariq

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This post previously appeared here and it was suggested we create a dedicated, new thread. Thanks @jb4422 and @madpoet.

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Out of curiosity, are you a lawyer or just an advisor for people seeking visas?

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First - I think you’re trying to ask too much all at once. It looks like a new-customer questionnaire. We aren’t new customers.

You’re investing in a foreign country, which operates under some set of rules you don’t really know, in a market you know little about. You’re committing hundreds of thousands of euros, which to most people most of the time is a LOT LOT LOT of money. (Don’t go assuming everyone doing this are multi-millionaires flush with cash to toss around. I imagine some of us are committing 30, 40, 50% of their liquid net because they really want the Plan B or Really Want Out.) Now you’re going to add on committing all of that money to ONE group of people, about whom you have little more than their word that they’re trustworthy and have some idea how to make money, with little way of even verifying they’re not just a couple guys in the corner starting up some new biz trying to skim off some dumb GV money?

Is it that surprising people want some level of additional risk mitigation?

(CMVM registration just means they registered and are at least subject to some regulation. Most everything in Portugal is going to be little known outside of Portugal; it’s just not that big of a place. And there ARE a lot of startups in this space. Heck, even the fundo de capital de risco is a new construct.)

Toss onto that, you’re dealing with private equity here, which is a ball of fur that most people know exactly zero about. I think I am one of maybe 3 people here with ANY experience in the space. High fees, lock-ins, difficult to understand fee structures (who’s heard of carried interest or hurdles?)…

Then let’s look at your questions 8 9 10 11. Again, it’s a foreign market with different rules. People can have wishes, but how is anyone supposed to have any idea what is fair and reasonable? Throw on there the Americans, who all have access to ETFs and no-load funds and pay $10 to Schwab to trade into $100k of SPY which charges 0.40%/yr in fees, and a fund charging a 1.5% annual fee (with no performance fee) is considered crazy. Maybe you need to start by saying “how are we going to educate people that this is NOT the US or Singapore or the UK and nothing in Portugal can possibly operate on those margins?” (Which frankly it can’t; it’s not like Portugal Ventures or BlueCrow is Vanguard or State Street. I completely get that.)

Now you will ask, but firms like yours are here to help with that, right? Well, why should we trust YOU any more than any of the other lawyers and fund managers and such? You’re providing some service, but how do we know what your track record is, what side of the bread is buttered for you? Further, pricing is just completely obscure - there is what you charge us, then there’s referral fees, follow on charges… yes, the worker is worthy of their hire, but what is your hire and how much work are you doing? How do we know you’re worth what we are spending on you when we don’t even really know what that is?

It’s not that this doesn’t apply in our home markets, of course. But we’re at least somewhat better equipped to inform ourselves in our home markets.

as I think kimw recently pointed out, how do you even get started to even learn the basics? Stumble onto NomadGate and paw through 6 months of jb4422 and wkb and mmd and pigletjulia and mmtravelguy and others throwing stuff back and forth in a 732-item-long thread, and that’s the best you can do in terms of any sort of probably-mostly-unbiased information anywhere?

Of course this is cynical. However you cannot tell me that at least some of this doesn’t sit in the back of everyone’s minds. How do you address that? Not so simple.

What might help is if say you and GCS and Magwind and Henley and Holborn and whoever @susanayang works for and whoever else in this space got together and addressed @kimw 's asks and made a guide and put some of the basic next-level knowledge out there. Like Investopedia articles or hospital brochures that explain everything about this operation you’re about to undergo. Talk about funds, how funds work, why they’re different than stocks. Talk about the risks and what questions to ask. VC versus PE vs something like IMGA. Explain fees. Explain the rules - not in “it’s so easy” but “this is what you can expect”. Have a common booklet, that isn’t branded by one of you but by all of you so it’s vendor neutral, and have it be the first big link on your site and let people see that everyone is handing out this guide so there can be some faith that it isn’t just some sales pitch. Let people educate themselves. That means you face harder questions when they come to you, sure, but it all goes under the advertising budget and you all might make it up in volume and good will - and people will know what they’re getting for your fee, too. (Plus of course you can create a little cabal of the “leading advisory firms”, a chamber of commerce of sorts…that’s always good for biz too…)

Take the long view, folks.

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So much to unpack and frankly Jeff did a great job with his answer so I will be a little brief with mine:

  1. Funds vs real estate: How do you choose? - I haven’t yet. But funds in general give me more flexibility and I feel like real estate is overvalued specifically so people will get the GV.
  2. How do you discover/connect with funds? - There’s a very good spreadsheet here.
  3. How do you source and select your lawyers? - Same
  4. What are your biggest doubts about the fund route in general? - Lock in period, the fact that they are almost all real estate focused, and lack of official sources of information on their qualifications for the GV
  5. Apart from here, where do you go to seek clarity on those doubts? - Talk to the fund managers, lawyers, and other investors.

6-14 I’m just going to answer by saying that I prefer a solid conservative return and preservation of capital (4% after fees). I get that most funds will be more expensive than in the US, but some of the up front fees and the ongoing maintenance on these funds is huge. Also don’t BS me about projected returns.

  1. Do you consider real estate-based funds to be appealing and, if so, why? - Not unless it’s a true REIT that can be publicly traded.
  2. If not a real estate fund, which of the investment areas would be more appealing? - Public funds that I can buy and sell at market conditions with no lockin.
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Here’s a summary of our thought process:

  • Real Estate - Too costly in the big cities, especially with the “GV premium” near the minimum qualifying purchase, plus we’d have to buy it sight-unseen due to Covid. Cheaper in smaller cities, but even harder to know what a good buy would be.
  • Funds - We consider ourselves exactly the kind of “dumb GV money” that @jb4422 was referring to above. None of the funds we took a look at made us feel like we understood what we were getting into. I’d have been okay with a Portuguese stock index fund of some sort.

In the end we went with a developer who is building hotels essentially using zero-interest loans from multiple GV investors. It’s still scary, but at least the company has some history and we understand how it’s supposed to work.

Hello Tariq.
I appreciate the idea that you want to make it easier for people, and I am sure many including myself would greatly appreciate that, but how do you propose to do this?

No offense meant, your questions strike me more as though you are trying to create a business plan.

Sadly, most of the people here on NomadGate are probably more savvy than the average GV investor who just blindly follows their advisor’s advice. I say sadly because most here (myself included) are not particularly familiar with these types of investments.

For the answers to most of your questions, I would look to the most successful of all GV funds which I have read is Nest Fund to understand their strategy for attracting investors.

But overall I think everyone would welcome your experience and input.

We were also considering the developer/hotel route, but things stalled when we asked to see proof of the hotel management contract. We felt that knowing for sure that a hotel brand we knew of was willing to be involved, lowered the overall risk to our investment. We asked for this, but have since heard nothing back. I thought it was a legitimate request for the reassurance. Our main concern is that the developer would declare bankruptcy on the company in the span of time they have before we get the buyback. Therefore, we wanted to know that they already had the hotel company locked in before we chipped in our investment. Did this come up in your decision making before you invested? Thank you for your thoughts on this. We are on the cusp.

Yes, we know the hotel brand involved at the time of investment, and indeed your question is a reasonable one. We also have concerns about a bankruptcy, but our developer assured us that:

  • The contracts are structured such that any early profits are held to pay back the investors, so the developer doesn’t make real money until everybody is paid back
  • Because the operating company would be debt-free, it would be relatively easy to borrow money at that point for the buybacks if it should become necessary

When speaking to them I alluded to any failure to buy back the investment severely harming the reputation of the parent company for future investors even if they’re not legally on the hook, and they wisely did not take my bait. But that’s also something we’re counting on.

Again, still scary, but the overall arrangement makes sense to us at least in theory.

I know the hotel brand, but I asked to see proof that there was a contract in place. This would make me feel a lot safer. They advertised with the name of the brand but I wanted to see actual proof of engagement. Hopefully they will provide it.

Hi @mmd, I am not a lawyer or a financial advisor. One of my companies (rules prevent me from naming it here) was set up in 2014 to help international investors to navigate the Portuguese real estate market and, naturally, the Golden Visa became a central theme. Over the years I’ve met with thousands of applicants and have offered guidance whenever I can. We do not charge the buyer for our services. If we find a suitable property then the seller pays a commission.

Selling or advising on funds in Portugal is a regulated activity which means that it’s in the realm of financial advisors, lawyers, and fund managers/advisors. I do not intend to give anyone here advice on funds but, having read through the various threads, I do believe there is an opportunity to improve the information landscape.

Hi @jb4422, I meant no offense. I’m not here trying to sell anything. I’m not providing a service and you don’t need to trust me. CMVM rules limit who can sell or advise on funds to financial advisors, lawyers, and the fund managers & advisors themselves. I do not qualify in that regard but I have dealt with thousands of Golden Visa investors since 2014 and helping to make sense of everything has been central to that experience.

I think we’re on exactly the same page - There’s a LOT of information out there and it’s quite confusing. I wrote: "I’m curious to understand more about the experience you’re all going through and hope to find ways to make it easier."

I believe there’s scope for a better way to present it all and I can’t do that without first knowing what the would-be investors are thinking. That’s exactly why I started the post in the first place and I appreciate your reply.

Regarding diversification - I asked because I’ve seen very little of it in GV real estate investments. However, this market is different and I appreciate that.

You make a good point about educating people that the Portuguese market operates differently to more established and higher volume markets such as the US and Singapore. The margins are at the other end of the scale because, in most cases, the fund advisors are real estate developers who have pivoted following or in anticipation of the GV rule changes. Regardless of how one may feel about that, without them, there would be a lot fewer funds to choose from. Portugal has a nascent VC/private equity culture and I don’t know of any of those guys coming into the GV arena anytime soon.

I agree 100% that there should be a central, universal guide on this investment class. I’ll take your advice and continue reading through the threads to learn more.

I’m going to try to answer several posts and once here. Sorry everyone - I’m still getting used to the platform. I hope this post works :crossed_fingers: :crossed_fingers: :crossed_fingers:

Thank you very much for these insights @madpoet.

What I’m reading is that you take issue with the subscription fees and projected returns. Regarding the lock-in period; I don’t believe the funds can force you to stay locked in but exiting early would compromise your GV application. Considering the GV requires you to hold the investment for at least 5 years, may I ask why the ability to escape the lock-in is so crucial?
I hear you on the strong real-estate slant and the lack of a centralized pool of information. Hopefully, that changes soon! Thanks again!

@cleversprites Thank you for sharing.

Real Estate - Yes, the real estate market has seen significant price increases over the last 7-8 years. There are still some fairly priced opportunities but, in general, I take your point. I appreciate that it’s difficult for somebody overseas to really know what’s a good deal, especially outside of the main cities.
Funds - I’m sorry that so many people feel like they’re “dumb GV money”. I can understand why figuring out the funds was challenging. A lot of them are very new to the scene themselves so I think it will take some time for the market to mature. As I mentioned in a reply above, a lot of the funds are advised by real estate developers who’ve pivoted because of the GV rule changes to real estate.

I wish you all the best with your chosen GV investment :slight_smile:

Hello @mmtravelguy, thanks for taking the time to reply.

FYI - I’m not a qualified financial advisor so I can’t sell funds and I’m not trying to offer anyone my services in these threads. My day job is running a real estate consultancy and I would hate to think that any of our clients think of themselves as “dumb GV money”, especially after working with us. We generate 50-65% of our business every year from referrals and repeat customers. We’re not in the business of short-term business.
In the case of these funds, I just think the distribution of information is chaotic and there’s gotta be a better way. I asked those questions so that I can start understanding what’s most relevant.
It’s good to know that there are qualified investors out there and I appreciate your offer to contribute. I’ll have a think about how it might work. Feel free to reach out via email in the meantime if you like.

The fees aren’t my primary concern but can be high. Any VC fund requires you to stay locked in unless you can find a private buyer yourself to purchase you out. It’s much, much harder to get out of one of these than the public stock market fund options. Suppose I decide 3 years from now that never mind, Portugal and the GV don’t matter to me? Or we have some sort of emergency life event? I will sacrifice returns for liquidity and stability in this case.

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They can, and it’s built into the terms. They simply can’t operate any other way - it’s inherent to the nature of the investment itself; they need stable money that they can use to go buy some business for 3-5 years and not have to liquidate.

The BIG question (singular) is:
Assuming that one has no way of surviving in one’s home country and is definitely desperate to get the heck out (now that that prize IDIOT Trump is gone, I can hopefully survive another four years), then what is the compelling reason for moving to PT via the GV route versus the D7 route? Allow me to share my findings.

My wife and I reside in the US. We wish to retire at 56 years but won’t be eligible for Medicare till we turn 65 years. So we have to bridge the gap for 10 years with private healthcare in the US which is insanely more expensive than Medicare. So we started with the D7 evaluation and were considering that primarily so we wouldn’t have to cough up $420K up front for the GV funds option. EXCEPT for one problem: With the D7 - the requirement to stay in PT for 8 months every year for 5 years. This defeated the purpose (for us at least) of being able to travel outside the borders of PT (not even Schengen region allowed when on D7) and we are definitely planning on splitting 4 months in US, 4 months in Schengen (not just PT) and 4 months in India (we have elderly parents and family there). So that left us with only the GV option that would allow us to stay 7-14 days in PT (minimum requirement), gives us access to Schengen in about a year from date of application, and we could split time between US and India as we desired.
So we did an elaborate cost analysis of GV (highlights below):
**$420K in GV Funds option (real estate option requires even more investment and unlike the US, the realtor fees, transfer taxes, capital gains and other government fees are very high in PT upon sale of property after 5 years).
**~$80K in GV application fees and lawyer’s fees.
**~$20K in travel expenses for 14 days to be spent in PT each year over 5 years (meet minimum stay requirement in PT).
That’s just the cash outflow in 5 years with ~$450K being spent in the 1st year itself.
**I haven’t even quantified the cost of the risk in the PT Fund we would end up investing in (who is to say it won’t go belly up, or won’t give me the 3-5% return I expect, and ends up losing value where I get only a fraction of the $420K I had invested in year-1). Alas, there are no guarantees in life!
**Lastly, the opportunity cost of 3-5% returns on $420K (invested in a PT fund) that I would have obtained if I had invested in the US markets in intermediate and long term bonds, munis, corporate bonds, and/or T-bills. Mutual Funds would give me 5-7%.

Compared to the above,
–If we stay in the US (56-65 years) we are looking at spending $1500/month in healthcare premium costs + $10,000/year in out of pocket expenses should one of us needs to be hospitalized each year. Net cost = $280K ($1500 x 12months + $10000 = $28000K x 10 years = $280,000).
–AND as US passport holders we get to travel anywhere between PT, Schengen, India and return to the US or visit a non-Schengen region (UK or Ireland) to comply with the rules of not exceeding the 90/180 days stay in the Schengen region.
–And of course, the $420K is invested in the US markets netting us 3% worst case each year = $12,600 ($10080 after taxes) which would offset some of the cost of very expensive healthcare in the US.

So the more I think about it and analyze the numbers, the more I am inclined to NOT apply for the GV and take such a huge financial risk with investing in a foreign market, namely PT (not to mention the hassles of spending additional money on establishing a home in PT so I can live longer periods there).

IMP: Oh, BTW…if you are a US Citizen and invest in a foreign mutual fund (such as any for the GV), the US government requires you to file taxes and pay ordinary income tax (not capital gains of 20%) on those annual returns and distributions paid out…which further dilutes your returns of 3-5% returns in PT funds (assuming your fund achieves that ROI each year to begin with). My wife is a CPA so she knows this for a fact.

So INVESTOR BEWARE!!! I urge you to do an exhaustive due diligence, P&L analysis and cash flow analysis before jumping into the GV option. Yes, it is extremely nice to get that Schengen passport after about a year…but at what CO$T! One can always travel as a tourist for 3 months at a time in Schengen areas and then go away for 90 days and return to visit another Schengen country. Isn’t that the essence of being “Nomadic” anyways?

Just wanted to pass on my perspective…my wife and I have been analyzing our PT options for over a year now and have done an exhaustive review on Nomad Gate, Global Citizen Solutions, various FB groups, PT residents and citizens, and other websites to educate ourselves. Last thing we all want … is to make an emotional decision (EQ) and not a sound financial/intelligent decision (IQ).

Hope my somewhat lengthy writeup helps. Good luck in your endeavors!

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I am in a similar situation and have decided to go with a GV fund. To me, we are talking about $80K in government and legal fees vs the $280K for healthcare in the US. The investment is just that, an investment. We are more diversified by making an investment in Portugal and I think (hope) that it is a good investment. The travel is vacation. Maybe we would vacation elsewhere otherwise, but I’ll be happy to spend 5 or 6 weeks in Portugal, including Madeira and the Azores.

I totally get what you are saying though. It is a big investment for cheaper healthcare and the ability to spend more than 90 days out of 180 in Schengen, but for us I think it is worth it.

I’m glad you’ve made a decision that is based on your wants and needs, and suits you. I’m not sure whether you’re sharing your decision or questioning others’ decisions. I explained my reasoning in a different post, some months ago, and my reasoning has not changed. I plan to be domiciled in Europe in the future, as a European citizen, without worrying about Schengen visa limits. A Portuguese golden visa is unquestionably the best fit for my needs of all available options. A Portuguese D7 visa is also a great choice for many people, though I regret that it is incompatible with my time constraints and travel goals. I want to be a Portuguese citizen as soon as it is possible. It is worth it, for me, even if I lose every last penny of my GV investment. A Portuguese passport is worth $500K to me flat out, now or in six years. If I had millions to throw around, and was in more of a hurry, I might go for the Maltese program, though I personally like Portugal as a great place to be. If tens of millions of dollars meant nothing to me, I’d seek an Austrian citizenship by exception. I like Austria too, though there is far too much cigarette smoking for my taste.

If you’re happy to be in the USA, I’m happy that you’re happy! I’m not happy about the state of the USA, and I’m dreaming of a future in friendly and peaceful Portugal, but I’ll be here in this disquieted land for a while yet.

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Great perspective and thanks for sharing. We did a similar evaluation. What made the decision to proceed for us based on the following:

  • access to PT, as well as a Eurozone passport in general was important to us. We love PT and the option to potentially live in the Eurozone as well is terrific.
  • a big consideration was the ability to get a non-US passport for our children. Yes Trump is gone for now but who knows what will happen in their lifetime?! The ability to have options is a great gift to offer them.
  • The cost was a secondary consideration, tbh. We just hope to not lose our shirt. If you over-analyze the costs, you will likely decide against the move. There are definitely better financial investments.
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I’ve been doing some analysis over the past week and I have come to similar conclusion like others. There are multiple problems with these funds. They lock-in the investment, take high portion of profit with high fees and don’t have proven track record. Basically they are terrible investments.

Essentially the “opportunity cost” of the golden visa comes down to 400k EUR. It is sunken cost and not investment which can be recovered. The way I come up with that amount is by calculating the money I would earn over next 7 to 10 years with an investment in US (opportunity cost). So, for me, the BIG question is, would you be willing to part with 400k EUR for a visa and a possible citizenship? Honestly, it doesn’t look appealing.

Unless a fund can “guarantee”, the below I would not be picking up the investment.

  1. no lock-in period
  2. yearly growth of 8-9%

I have some more meetings with the fund agents. I don’t see how they are going to convince me otherwise. I will keep an open mind till then.