Vítor Costa has already helped more than 20 North American families settle in the Minho region. Born and raised in Barcelos, he has been at Ponte de Lima for about five years. After several experiences in the most diverse professional fields, he embarked on the real estate sector. Together with his wife, Maria Malheiro, he created Portugal Door, which not only finds accommodation for interested foreign clients, but also helps them with everything necessary to adapt well to our country. North American customers find in Portugal the security and quality of life they seek. The demand for foreigners from our country, most of them with capital, is increasing. And Vítor Costa thinks he has to keep growing.
Vítor Costa is 31 years old and was born in the parish of Galegos Santa Maria, in Barcelos. He hasn’t always worked in real estate, far from it. His first job was at the Royal restaurant, in the Terço shopping center, in Barcelos, managed at the time by Jorginho, now in charge of the famous Turismo restaurant. “Jorginho was my first boss,” he recalls during a conversation with O MINHO.
But there were many others. He worked in customer support at Apple, at McDonald’s, at service stations, he was a quality controller. “But I always felt something was missing,” he says.
He then “went through a period where he didn’t know where to go. [se] turn around”, until the day when his brother recommended that he listen to the “audio book” of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Then “things started to make sense” and he began to realize that “he would want to be an investor and that real estate would be part of what he wanted to invest in.”
The words of the investment “guru” joined the “values” of Vítor Costa: “I prefer a job where if I don’t produce, I won’t be paid, but at the same time, if the quality of my work and my results are greater, I can also have a higher yield”.
And that’s how he got to real estate in 2019.
Two years after becoming a real estate agent, he participated in an experience exchange program during which he ended up being asked for help by North Americans: “And that’s where we started working with them. I started to realize that the challenge of finding a house in Portugal was much greater for someone who doesn’t speak our language”.
Other North Americans started talking about it and others started to appear, in a snowball effect. “When we started to work more with foreigners, we started thinking about the difficulties they faced. Many of them even had a hard time talking to a real estate agent here. There have been customers who called me the first time and were surprised that I answered,” he points out.
“We don’t just want to sell the house to a stranger”
Meanwhile, his wife, Maria Malheiro, with whom he has a four-year-old daughter, has also become a “business partner”. “He joined me and, immediately, the business started to turn better”, he assures.
And what is the difference between Portugal Door’s service and any real estate company? “Our mission – and not just for foreigners – is to do everything to help people live the best possible life,” he explains. “We don’t just want to sell the house to a stranger.”
Vítor Costa expands: “Any problem they have, we help them. Maria is currently trying to create practical Portuguese courses: teaching people to order things in restaurants, in cafes, functional things for everyday life. We also prepare Portuguese cooking classes. We are always looking for professionals to collaborate with us in order to give more quality of life to our customers”.
Partnerships range from electricity companies, insurance companies, credit and whatever else is needed: “We have already managed to help our clients to have a Portuguese taxpayer and a bank account. And we are always creating new partnerships that allow us to offer customers the best quality of service. We are always looking for professionals from various fields to work with”.
Braga is the most wanted
Minho – between Braga, Ponte de Lima, Viana do Castelo, Esposende – is the area where Vítor Costa is most sought after and towards which he is most oriented, because it is the area he knows best. But orders can come from all over the country.
“In these areas, we are 100% comfortable helping people. If they want, for example, to go to Oliveira do Hospital or Coimbra, we also help them, but we mention that in the real estate part we will find a good agent in this area and who can provide the best follow-up”, emphasizes the consultant real estate, part of the Nuno Venceslau team, of the EXP Realty international network, which also allows you to find good references on the market.
Vítor Costa has already helped about 25 families to settle in the territory of Minho. Vítor Costa notes that 60% of customers are interested in Braga, around 10% in Viana, 15% in Ponte de Lima and the remaining 25% “spread throughout the country”.
“São Martinho do Porto is also very sought after because there is a large immigrant community there,” he adds.
Lux? “By chance, no”
About 95% of its customers come from the United States and Canada. “For some reason we have a slightly higher percentage of people from Colorado. Maybe because of the video we made on our YouTube channel with a couple from Colorado. We had clients from Texas, Alaska, some from Canada”. But, although in smaller numbers, there are also those who come from the United Kingdom, Norway or South Africa.
When asked if it is an exclusively luxury market, Vítor Costa replies that “by chance, no”.
“We help all kinds of people, some who really have a lot of financial resources, but, truth be told, most seem to have a simple life, with their pensions and pensions. They want to come to Portugal to retire, they won’t have much more money than average, maybe a little more. We have also had foreign clients who, in financial terms, are similar to those of an ordinary Portuguese citizen,” he points out.
In search of safety and quality of life
And what makes foreigners, especially North Americans, choose Portugal to live there? “There are several reasons. One of the most important, from what we felt, is security. Portugal is among the safest countries in the world [em 2023 está em 7.º lugar]”, respond.
There are also other reasons, such as political instability in the countries of origin, especially in the United States of America, where society is divided and where positions are very extreme. But Americans also appreciate in Portugal the “slower way of life”, the climate, the “quality of life” and, not least, the food.
“I had a client tell me that out of the 37 preservatives they use in America, only three are allowed in Europe, the food here is better. And you can see that a lot of my clients, since they arrived here, look healthier, leaner and more energetic. I think the food has a lot to do with it too,” says the real estate consultant.
“Very welcoming country”
Therefore, Portugal is a good place to live for foreigners and it is trendy. Vítor Costa believes that the tendency is to stay. Among several factors, such as the aforementioned “political instability”, “there are more people looking for alternatives and Portugal is a very welcoming country”, he justifies.
And he concludes: “I think it will continue, unless something happens. I don’t think it’s going to slow down, because more people come here, more people talk to each other and this sharing is created.