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Going for gold: residency in return for property investments

Many HNW expats find it beneficial to invest a proportion of their wealth in their country of residence. To obtain residency status, investors should consider the Golden Visa program offered by various countries around the world.

Whether to further business ventures or gain access to better investment opportunities, many HNW expats find it beneficial to invest a portion of their wealth in their country of residence rather than their country of origin. Obtaining residency is beneficial to HNW expats because this status can be extended to family members, offers greater access to markets (such as the EU), and faster application processing times. To lure investments from HNW individuals to a country’s property or bond market, some European nations offer a Golden Visa program.

A type of investor visa, the concept of a Golden Visa program is straightforward: invest a certain amount into the country’s property market or government bonds and in return, obtain residency. Five countries in Europe (Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal, and Spain) offer a Golden Visa program through property investments, the requirements for which vary in terms of the minimum amount to invest, family qualifications, and whether citizenship is possible. According to La Vida, the Golden Visa program for Cyprus offers one of the shortest timescales in Europe but requires a €2.5m ($2.7m) investment into residential or commercial real estate.

Looking ahead, wealth managers will do well to identify and offer services that HNW expats seek. Data from our 2015 Global Wealth Managers Survey shows that 14.2% of HNW investors are expats, representing a significant opportunity. Furthermore, investor visa programs including Golden Visas are likely to grow as countries use them as a means to encourage direct investment in their local markets and to boost the economy. Turkey is already in the planning stage of offering a Golden Visa program, which will peak the interest of foreign investors as the country does not offer any investor visa. More markets will no doubt follow.

By Nicole Douglas, Wealth Management Analyst

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