Portugal must be able to respond to the new structure of households, in terms of the types of housing available. If at this level, there is a long way to go, after referring to banking statistics, the indicators reveal that our country is very well positioned. We are one of the countries with the least housing-related debt in Europe, and where 75 percent of the population owns a home. These were some of the conclusions of the debate “The Future of Housing” that took place yesterday, within the scope of the Zome Summit.

The panel of speakers included the participation of manager António Ramalho, architect Luís Tavares Pereira, and lawyer Filipa Pedroso and focused not only on the debate on the current panorama of the real estate market but also on possible solutions to the problems facing the sector, with “crisis” being the watchword.

Luís Tavares Pereira, architect and commissioner of the initiative of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto “More than Houses”, which brings together 25 Schools of Architecture and Fine Arts in Portugal, was the first to use the term “crisis” in housing, referring that “families in Portugal are changing, with more and more single-parent structures, no children, elderly people living alone, more emigrants, more teleworking, and in this sense, housing models have to respond to this transformation ”. Asked about how our government could respond to this scenario, the architect argues that “more varied typologies are needed”.

António Ramalho corroborates Luís Tavares Pereira's view, noting that 62 percent of people in the last Census reported that the houses they live in are larger than the space they truly need. The manager, with long experience and knowledge of the real estate market, emphasized some numbers from a “mature and rigid country when it comes to its housing process”. Starting with the number of owners, the manager mentions: “Portugal has many owners (75 percent) and 61.3 percent of these owners no longer have any debt, which brings security to the Portuguese situation. We are one of the countries with the least housing-related debt in Europe, with just 6.9 percent of instalments in delay when the European average is 16 percent. We are one of the countries in Europe with the least overdue mortgage loans: 0.2 percent, which means that, although with effort, everyone is managing to pay their credits”. These indicators demonstrate a country with a unique model in the housing sector.

In her turn, Filipa Arantes Pedroso, a lawyer specialising in the real estate sector, indicated that there are many solutions that can be implemented in the medium term to mitigate the aforementioned “crisis” in the sector: “It is essential that the tax burden is changed”, pointed out the lawyer, who gave the example of Spain, where taxes related to housing are only 10 percent. Licensing is a lengthy process, in the words of the lawyer, although she concedes that Simplex “made important changes to licensing, in order to simplify it.” The lawyer also highlighted the need to invest in more public-private policies in order to respond to demand. Most important of all, she considers that a lot of “political stability” is necessary so that the country can evolve in this sector, noting that “no investor likes political instability, and that is what Portugal has had”.

These were the main conclusions of the panel “The Future of Housing” held as part of the Zome Summit, which ran until 11 April, at Nau Salgados Palace, in Albufeira. The 100 percent national real estate agency holds this meeting annually, in order to bring together employees in a setting of networking, training, and social moments, promoting and deepening knowledge of the sector's talent.