It all started with a unique meeting between Portugal and Sweden that rendered into real estate company in 2015. The team at Portugal Agent combines a unique experience of real estate in Portugal with global business, sales and marketing skills. Why is Portugal Agent a better choice if you are in the process of buying or selling property in Portugal? Read Niklas´ story.
The two founders of Portugal Agent, Niklas Forsén and Calle Sjöberg, both have long experience from entrepreneurship combined with a big interest in windsurfing. Calle competed in the World Cup during the 90´s. Niklas ran several sports magazines; SurfSport with windsurfing and FunSport covering snowboard, surfing, mountainbike, skiing and skateboard. The two have traveled to numerous beaches all over the world. During a world championship in windsurfing in Florida 2011 they made the decision: “we want to find a second home close to a nice beach in a nice country”.
They started looking in Florida and ended up in Portugal and Nazaré. How did that happen?
This is how they thought: A second home in another country that eventually maybe will be a first home, should not have the time difference like Florida or Thailand. And it should not be too far way – we want to be able to enjoy long weekends at our second home.
South Africa was also taken away from the list. No time difference but a very long flight. Australia and New Zeeland were taken away due to both time difference and distance, but of course very nice places as well! Left was Europe; little time difference if any, many destinations with direct flights and max 4 – 5 hours away. Turkey? Yes and No, Calle went to Bodrum and looked at many properties. A bit too far away from the beach, very hot summers and actually surprisingly cold winters. Furthermore, a political climate that doesn´t feel good. Greece? No, the economy there is not good…
Eventually all countries by the Mediterranean were rejected for different reasons; usually very high prices per square meter if you would like to find a place close to the sea and with sea view, too many tourists in many places during the summer and empty during the wintertime, too hot summers etc.
What about the Canary Islands? Calle and Niklas had spent several years there and they always liked it. Nice islands, perfect for windsurfing, nice hiking, mountain biking, surfing but… Flying time is a bit long and having a property on an island feels a bit limiting. And due to the climate change being dependent on flights feels risky. Having a second home in a place that you can access by train and car feels better.
Left were countries in Europe by the Atlantic Ocean. Fresh water, a bit cooler during summertime and mild winters. Who wants to live with 30 – 40 degrees several months per year? Nice for short vacations yes, but not for very long. You need to get quite far south to have mild winters. Southern France could be ok but is more expensive than Spain and Portugal. And how would we survive with our poor French? The French people are known for wanting to speak French as we know… Left are Spain and Portugal.
Calle and Niklas had spent a lot of time in Spain before – they felt that they knew the country pretty well. Niklas had been in Portugal a couple of times mountain biking and he had also been at the famous windsurfing spot Guincho. Calle had never been to Portugal. At that time, in 2011 back home in Sweden, they started to read more about Portugal. It was easy to find several nice things about the country; low prices on property relatively speaking and good outlook, very favorable tax rules, beautiful landscape, the Atlantic coast with endless beaches and elevated landscape inside the coastline that always offers a sunset in the sea (not the Algarve), nice and honest people, interesting culture and beautiful genuine towns. The culture enthusiasts have plenty to explore: castles, churches, monasteries, the legacy of the sailors and the Moors, fishing villages, vineyards and much, much more. In addition, a lot of sport possibilities: golfing, surfing, mountain biking, road biking, hiking trails, horseback riding and even a small ski resort!
They both agreed that most important factors are location, the city and the country as such. If these things get a thumbs up the favorable tax rules come as a nice bonus.
In February 2012, they went on a “discovery tour” in Portugal with the aim of finding the spot they were looking for. They went in February, just to ensure that they would witness what the places looked like during the low season. They wanted to find a place that offered a lively city life with open shops and restaurants also during wintertime. Would they find that place in Portugal or would Spain win?
Flight to Lisbon, rental car and first stops in Estoril and Cascais. Pleasant and beautiful, close to Lisbon airport but prices on properties were too high; like the most fashionable places in Sweden.
The continued their tour going north. One night in beautiful old Sintra – a really nice place in the mountains, not by the ocean though – and then further up north by the Atlantic coast. Ericeira, Peniche and Baleal – all nice surf spots. They were invited by a British real estate agent to stay at the 5-star hotel on the exclusive golf resort Praya del Rey. The day after he showed them several nice houses with high standards. However, their families are not golfers. They went on further north. Long stay in Foz do Arelho and São Martinho do Porto. The heart rate started to increase. Here, they had found a very interesting part of the Silver coast and Portugal. Breath taking views over the ocean and the hilly landscape. Yes! Now they had found a couple of really good candidates for a futures second home north of Lisbon. Worthwhile continuing further north? They needed to ensure that they had enough time to visit all the coastline south of Lisbon and Algarve as well… They decided that they had time for one more city north of Lisbon before turning to the south. Out on the highway – fast and almost always empty – and up to Nazaré.
When driving down the main street to the Marginal – the street inside the boardwalk of the big city beach (a bit like Copacabana but without the people crowd) – they looked at each other and said: Wow! What a city and what a view! They went through their checklist: nice beach – Check, good harbor for yachts and fishing fleet – Check, nice city center with alleys and restaurants – Check, food market – Check, house for sale with sea views – Check! Furthermore, a funicular from downtown Nazaré to the oldest part of Nazaré, Sitio, 100 meters above the sea level. Fantastic! They took another turn with the car and found a real estate agent. He showed them a bunch of nice apartments and houses, all with nice sea views and prices way below what they had seen outside of Lisbon. Nazaré is located on hills facing west – some parts more than 100 meters above sea level – therefore, many properties give fantastic sea views and ocean sunset. Next day Calle and Niklas turn south, driving the coast road up on the Salgado hill. They conclude: the area from Peniche up to Nazaré feels very good, with Nazaré being no 1 for them. But there is still a lot to see in Portugal!
Their first stop on the tour going south is Setúbal – a famous holiday place with nice beaches south of Lisbon. However, not exactly what they were looking for. And it doesn´t have the ocean sunset. Jump back into the car and next stop is Sines located approximately on the middle of the coastline between Lisbon and Sagres where the coastline turns 90 degrees and becomes a south coast: the Algarve coast. Sines is not what they are looking for – mostly a heavy industry city. Next stop is Vila Nova de Milfontes. A nice little town where the river Mira enters the ocean. The town is protected from the ocean a bit upstream and doesn´t have much of ocean view. But the hiking trails around here are fantastic! Further down to Cabo de São Vicente and Sagres. Nice surfing here! Sagres has a nice location, genuine old fishing town but no ocean sunset and empty in the winter time. They continue eastward visiting Lagos, Portimão and Albufeira. A lot of restaurants, hotels and shops are closed due to low season. This is the reason they went in February – to get the feeling of if the place is living all year around or not. One of the musts on their wish list. Who would like to go on vacation to an empty city? They continue their tour further east, to Tavira, Vila Nova de Cacela and Cila Real de Santo Antonio by the Spanish border.
They have now seen quite a few Portuguese coastal places, met numerous real estate agents from Nazaré in the north to Sagres in southwest and all the way to the Spanish border to the east. They feel that they are ready to make the comparison with Spain.
They started summarizing their impressions on the flight back to Sweden and Portugal won over Spain. Nice, easygoing and honest people who speak English. Less expensive than Spain and of course much cheaper than Sweden. Back in Sweden they summarized everything like this:
Algarve is beautiful, and the temperature is a bit higher than on the Silver coast, especially during summertime. However, in February some places felt empty, closed down. Furthermore, holiday on a beach is not the main reason for their second home. They want more of activities, nature, culture and sports. They did not find the west coast south of Lisbon as nice and interesting as the Silver coast and the beautiful, short coastal part from Lisbon to Cascais was simply too high priced for the locations they were looking for. The favorite ended up being the coastal strip between Peniche and Nazaré.
After February 2011 this has happened: The families made several trips at different times of the year. Real estate agents in Foz do Arelho and Nazaré were asked to find properties for them. They found several in Nazaré and a few trips later Calle bought a plot in Sítio da Nazaré and Niklas bought an attached villa nearby. This was during the fall of 2013. A year later Calle bought another house in Sítio.
The combination of having long experience of property development and sales (Calle) and yacht broker, web publishing and several sports magazines (Niklas) made the two of them feel that they can start a company together, Portugalagent Sweden AB, with the aim of attracting people to the Silver coast. During the winter of 2014/2015 Portugalagent built a deep relationship with two local real estate agents in Nazaré and during spring 2015 Portugalagent invested in a new agency in Nazaré. Grand opening day was April 30, 2015. Short after, Calle decided to focus only on property development in Nazaré. Kari (Niklas´ wife) and Niklas bought his part of Portugalagent and in 2017 Kari and Niklas moved to Nazaré permanently.
The business idea is to be the helping hand with all things around buying and selling property on the Silver coast and Nazaré. We are next to client from the beginning and also after the purchase/sale. We also have a big network of specialists who can assist when needed. Happy clients – not by coincidence!
Happy clients – not by coincidence!
There are many real estate agents on the Silver Coast in Portugal but there is no other that combine the local expertise in real estate with international network and unique knowledge of web-based marketing. We help you before the decision, during the purchase process and also afterwards with our After-Sales services. If you are thinking of selling your property you should know that potential clients will find the objects on our website even outside of Portugal. We know SEO (Search Engine Optimization), we market in Swedish for Sweden and reach the rest of Europe in English and German.
In 2020, after 5 years working working together with the two local agents, Portugal Agent sold its part in the local agency. A close business partnering continued until the fall of 2021. From now on Portugal Agent is independent and builds close relationships with selected local agencies and builders that we trust. We focus on clients speaking Swedish, English and from December 2021 also German.
Welcome to Portugal Agent – whether you’re buying or selling!
Niklas Forsén, Founder
Why did we start Portugal Agent? And how did we end up with the team we have? Both the local expertise as well as the team from Sweden?Read more about our story