Interview: David Rowat of Olive Homes

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Our latest course interview is with David Rowat of Olive Homes in Portugal. Read to the end, he’s certainly got the most unusual hobby we have ever heard of!

How long have you lived in Portugal and been in the Property Industry?

I have lived in Portugal now for 16 years. I left England in 2003, spent some time in Spain and then ended up in Portugal just in time to watch them beat us on penalties in the 2004 Euros. Despite that disappointment, I have enjoyed every moment in Portugal. I started working in the property industry in 2005 and have sold properties in many different locations such as Lisbon, Cascais, Porto, the Silver Coast and throughout the Algarve.

We believe you are starting out as a relatively new golfer? What has your experience been like so far? Where in the Algarve do you like to play? Which is your favourite golf course from the vast choice in the Algarve?

I am not sure if I can even be described as a golfer yet! I’ve played an 18-hole course less than ten times. If I’m lucky enough to get one par each round I’m delighted. For me, it is finding (and making) the time to do it. So I’ve quite enjoyed a few 9-hole games in the late afternoon. I do love it. I love the peace, tranquillity and of course the social scene – the interaction – be it admiring a good shot or concealing a curse/giggle as the ball hits the only available tree. Living in the Algarve, I am surrounded by so many golf courses. I live in Vilamoura so I’m blessed with 6 courses on my doorstep. So far I’ve played Pinhal and Vila Sol and look forward to playing the others soon. I guess it is too soon to choose my favourite course – you’ll have to ask me in twelve months’ time. At the moment, any course is my favourite course.

What effect has the pandemic had on the Property market in the last 18 months?

As bizarre as it sounds the main impact the pandemic has had on the property market is to push prices higher. Portugal has experienced record gains over the last 18 months. The country overall has seen prices increase around 7% per annum. When you strip these figures down to local levels then the areas most sought after by international clients have seen increases of over 10% per annum. Clients want space and many more clients are looking to retire or relocate to Portugal. Those relocating can often work from home so they can see real benefits in living in a warm, cheap and peaceful country. Prices are predicted to increase much more as, much like many property markets across the world, the demand is outstripping supply. Vendors are not interested in selling, often preferring to rent and keep their homes for further capital appreciation. Developers here are often family businesses. They don’t build large developments. So the most we get is another 50 units coming to the market. This is making no significant inroad into dampening the pent up demand. Clients have become fed up with the pandemic and are now resolute in changing for the better. Portugal is at the top of many clients list – even as far afield as USA and Canada. Worldwide demand – minimal supply.

Which are the most important considerations to take into account when purchasing your property in Portugal?

This totally depends on your requirements. Should you wish to engulf yourself in the Portuguese way of living then I would be suggesting Lisbon, Porto or the Silver Coast. If you want an element of Portuguese but, at the same time, want to enjoy some home comforts then maybe the Algarve is where you want to be. It also depends if you consider your purchase to be a holiday home or an investment. Often, I have clients saying it’s a holiday home that will only be used for seven days a year. In this case, I prefer to consider it as an investment. Such a low usage means it must make money – in terms of capital appreciation and rental income. In terms of lifestyle, Portugal is extremely diverse. Geographically you can have sand spit beaches (with estuaries), beaches lined by sand dunes and alternatively cliffs/rock pillars. Personally, I have travelled throughout Portugal so being able to spend fifteen minutes talking to clients I can often pinpoint where is best for them. That’s the beauty of this place – many common positive attributes but uniqueness from within. There is diversity to finetune lifestyle and achieve investment criteria.

Which are your favourite restaurants to eat in and entertain your clients?

The list is endless with such diverse tastes and locations. I’m a meat lover so the Rare restaurant on Vilamoura Marina is one of my favourites. Also, the beauty of Cafe Del Arte, near the Hilton Hotel in Vilamoura, with its pergola, draping vines and live music is serene, especially as the sunsets. BJ’s Oceanside is also not to be missed. Listening to the waves lapping onto the shore as you drink a cold glass of Portuguese wine. There is such a choice that it often depends on what the clients like when I am entertaining.

What has made Olive Homes such a big success?

There is a huge selection of agencies in Portugal. Small operators and large. Usually, the largest ones are franchised and will only wish to sell properties in one area rather than be open to travelling further afield. OliveHomes.com will work with other agencies if we do not have what clients are looking for on our website. In effect, we are the only door clients need to come through. What stands us apart from other agencies is our desire to give the best experience and service. On top of this, we are pioneering the way properties can be viewed virtually. We have the latest technology so clients can make a decision from home. Saving themselves lots of wasted time. We ensure all the ancillary services are provided and will introduce clients to selected businesses who can help you from start to finish. At all times we will be responsible for ensuring the process runs smoothly. Fundamentally, it is the attitude and work ethic of the staff – they are the glue. It is one thing to have ideas, a vision and the latest equipment but without cheerful, positive, hardworking knowledgeable staff – you will never be a success. So, it has been all the pieces of the jigsaw coming together to create the perfect company.

Tell us something that our readers might not know about you?

I’m a shark speciality diver. That was never one of my ambitions but while on holiday at a friend’s house in South Africa, I had the opportunity to take some intensive training and thought why not? Since then I’ve SCUBA dived and studied many different species across the world. Watching them sleep, swim, circle and kill. I remember the training – ‘don’t panic if they swim towards you’ – good advice…but in practice? Now I’m sticking to the golf course.

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