ALTHOUGH OFTEN OVERSHADOWED by its glazier Iberian neighbour, Spain, it's the laid-back charms of Portugal that once again drew the Camerons back for some summer sun. Whether it's sleepybeach towns you seek, buzzy fishing villages or more world-class golf resorts you can throw a club at, the Algarve remains a favourite for British tourists and property hunters. It was the third most popular location for property enquiries during 2015 behind Spain and France - for reasons that go beyond the 300 days of sunshine a year and that sought-after slow pace of life.
While the weak euro is driving many British buyers to the continent, the policy of austerity has definitely worked for Portugal. Its
International Monetary Fund bailout was a success, the economy is growing and overseas investors have been encouraged by the incentives of golden visa and non-habitual residency tax schemes. Property prices are still down from their 2008 peak in many areas, yet the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors predicts that prices will rise five per cent per annum for the next five years it lacks the over-supply of the Spanish Costas - and mortgages are getting easier to obtain, too.
The Algarve offers a host of stunning beaches, from the surfing magnets of the Atlantic coast to the sandbars of Tavira in the east. It's hard to pick out one place but the vast 4.5km swathe of golden sand at Meia Praia in the focal town of the west, Lagos, ticks many boxes. For many reasons it is also a rentals hot spot, including the lively year-round town centre, with history and authentic feel -something that the purpose-built resorts lack.
Prices have been going up in Lagos - once more affordable than Central Algarve, it has been catching up fast in the past five years. There is a big appetite for apartments with access to a pool, especially three-bedroom units, and you can expect to pay around €150,000 (£113,500) for a high-end one-bedder.
So if you are looking to buy in Portugal, THE TIME IS NOW!