Tell us a bit about the concept of Quinta da Palmeira?
Quinta da Palmeira is the daughter company of the Carvoeiro Group. My close friend and co-owner, Andreas Stocker and I wanted to keep the concept quite simple in that we have built the company around being the best asset managers in Portugal. How do we do this? We start by getting the client, either investors or house buyers, and we give them everything that they need to help them on their journey when buying property in the Algarve. This means doing their tax forms, doing their gardens, doing their pools, etc. so everybody that invests with us either in large-scale projects, or private houses will get the whole ‘care’ package. After this is organised, we also offer to rent the properties out for them and help with any maintenance of the buildings. It’s a total concept. There are asset managers in the world that just do the maintenance but we do everything from beginning to end.
What are your thoughts on Portugal as an investment potential for buyers?
Well, there was an article recently from Forbes Magazine that ranked Carvoeiro as the best place in the world to live right now, so currently we are based in a prime location if this is anything to go by. Equally, Standard and Poor’s lifted the credibility rating of Portugal last week. This is very important as it means that Portugal has an even stronger credit rating in the investments market. In terms of specific investment areas in Portugal, Central Algarve is considered the best place to live and this is where you will find Carvoeiro and our properties.
How did you face the real estate crisis in 2008?
There are a lot of small companies in Portugal that went under in the crisis during 2008 and our company didn’t. It has existed since 1982 and continues to do so because we have always believed in quality. We have never had any financial problems because we didn’t do some of the crazy things that these other asset management companies did at the time, or have big loans with the banks. We are an old-fashioned, family-run company that believes in basic good values. We asked our staff and team to pull together and work hard and we carried on working – we didn’t even make a loss in a year. It was actually a very happy time because as a company we all had to pull together like a family to get through it. As a result, we remained very solid and basically went through the crisis without any problems whilst 90% of the others were wiped out.
What do you think has led to the recent positive change in Portuguese investment opportunities?
First of all, after the crisis in 2008 the government made very good decisions to help things get back on track. Secondly, Portugal is a safe country and has always been a safe country. It isn’t a country that is in political turmoil and the general mentality of the Portuguese is one of kindness and hospitality. It has always been a destination where people like to go on holiday yet it hasn’t been overdeveloped like areas along the coast of Spain, for example.
How do you choose where you will invest next?
Well, we are currently building two resorts and we took another one over last week. The rules for the new developments and projects we invest in are that they are all within a 25-40km radius of our headquarters, as we also do resort management.
Any potential investments also have to be a certain size. The space has to be over 25 houses when we build a resort otherwise it is very hard to manage. There isn’t much available anymore in terms of existing properties, so we have bought some new land where we will construct some resorts. But again, the size has to manageable and the price has to be good.
What are your goals as a real estate asset manager besides profits?
My main goal is to be proud of my company. As our mission states, we want to be the best asset management company in Portugal and that will continue to be our aim. We believe that quality and credibility are very important.
Credibility. This is fundamental as it means that money coming from investors is considered safe with us. There is a lot of foreign investment coming into Portugal now, and partnering with Carvoeiro Group means that people can find out about the company they are investing and see that we are credible when we are doing negotiations.
Where did the inspiration for the real estate company come from?
I come from a business family so have always had ideas for potential companies and projects. The origin of my company in Holland and also in Portugal comes from my father’s original business in the 1950’s. My father started his company back then and it still exists today. It’s a family company that my brother and I took over and we have kept this ‘family-run’ philosophy in mind with all our projects ever since. It’s the way my mother raised us and it’s the only way that I have ever worked.
Is the company expanding to other levels?
Yes definitely. One of the things we would like to do is move more into the Lisbon market. We would still be asset managers but in order for me to move into the Lisbon/Porto arena I would need at least developments of 250 units plus. Currently in the Algarve, we are working closely with banks to develop their troubled properties from the 2008 crisis. We will manage them and we will develop them. Certain projects are over 50 million euros, so we are currently looking for international partners to realise them.
These are a couple of things that we are working towards, but we are also very interested in property renovations and construction. We are regularly asked by the owners of private residences to help with construction, which currently we outsource, but I would not be surprised if Carvoeiro has its own in-house construction team in the future. Sometimes construction companies do not fulfill our demands of high-quality. We have high standards and it would complete our team of specialist surveyors, architects, contractors etc.
Do you think there has been a shift in what people look for in their properties?
If an individual buyer buys a property abroad they have a lot of work to do and you can imagine how difficult this can be. They need a lawyer, they need a tax number, they need to file they papers, they need trustworthy contact in the area. These people have worked hard to earn the capital for the investment and they want to feel looked-after when they choose to employ the services of company. There are a lot of loose cannons in the market, so people want to go directly to somewhere that they know is reliable and can trust in order to make this process as simple and stress-free as possible.
Therefore, the shift is that people want someone who takes care of it all. They want to relax and know that the money they are investing is in safe hands and the job will be done quickly and efficiently, and ideally with a financial gain in the long run.
What did 35 years of experience teach you?
About eight years ago I decided to take things easy, so I gave up working for a couple of years and as a result I became very unhappy. What mainly became apparent to me through my years of experience was that I just want to work until I die. I am good for it, I am made for it and I enjoy it, so does the family. I like to work with people. We employ 265 people here and I enjoy working with them. I like to run companies, I am born to do this and I accept that – there will be no retirement for me ever.
What do you think leaves the biggest impression on clients who visit Quinta da Palmeira?
The impression that people leave with is that they are taken care of and for a very reasonable price. The feeling we want to give is that even when problems can occur, they can rest assured that we have it covered. Because we offer an all-round service, I believe that people know that they can put their trust in us. They know that we are dealing with every aspect of their lives and that we are supporting them all the way. They can always talk to us and we are always improving on this to ensure that people’s needs are met.
What made you a successful businessman?
Firstly, I believe I can make something out of nothing in real estate. Secondly, I have no fear and thirdly, I always try to learn from the negatives. I will never enter into a business transaction where we could potentially lose the business. I will enter into a business transaction where I may lose money because that’s the nature of business, but nothing that jeopardizes the company. Mostly you win but sometimes you lose. I think that to be a good businessman you have to learn from your losses, accept them, and move to the next deal. This may sound a bit conservative but it has led us to become the market leader. This business is not only my profession but also my hobby and passion. I love what I do and this is will always pay off in business.
In terms of what I think makes a successful business, then the answer would have to be loyalty. I am loyal to my people and my people are loyal to me. I am loyal to my partners and my partners are loyal to me. This is fundamental to success I believe.
What brought you to the Algarve and what made you stay?
Portugal is such a stable country at the moment. I don’t see a crisis hitting them again like back in 2008. It is a place that makes me happy and where I enjoying working. I love that I can drive to my work without seeing a traffic light, or if I go to a restaurant I can park my car outside the restaurant. In this part of the world, this is something that brings me a lot of happiness because being from downtown Amsterdam I’m used to 24/7 traffic, tourists, or problems the minute you leave the house. Whereas here all I experience is a safe and easy way of living. My work is probably the most hectic part of my life, but when I close the door to the office I am living in the best part of the world and I really feel it – it’s a really beautiful, nice, kind, and safe environment.
Quinta da Palmeira
+351 282 350 805 | +351 917 963 401