We spoke to one of our clients, Michele, about her experience of buying a property in Portugal. During her buying process, she had both Brexit and COVID-19 to contend with, which sent the currency markets into disarray. However, she explains that after finding us through our partner site, Property Guides, she made the quick decision to use our services – which ended up saving her thousands of pounds…
It sounds like you’ve been on quite a journey with your buying process, Michele! Tell us a bit about your property abroad.
We bought 3 little cottages in a remote rural village, in Odemira district, just north of the central Algarve. We will retire there, and all of our friends and family will be able to visit.
The houses are old fashioned Alentejo style and there is a lovely big garden with fruit trees, grapevines and a well. We are just an hour from the airport and beaches, there’s a beautiful, scenic reservoir nearby for swimming and we are 40 minutes from big shopping centres. Our own friendly village has a cafe, a bar, a bakery and a convenience store.
Were you at all worried about sending so much money in another currency?
I knew nothing at all about transferring and exchanging money, so I was very worried about sending the money. Could I trust these people? Were they bonafide? Would the money arrive? Would I get a decent exchange rate?
However, Smart’s exchange rates were much better than the bank and there were no fees. I had to send a deposit for the house – I am not great at filling in electronic forms but it was all quite easy, and the money all arrived very quickly.
Did you use a forward contract? If so, would you say it’s been beneficial?
I wouldn’t have thought to use a forward contract, but Smart called me to say that the pound appeared to be falling due to Brexit and it may be prudent to get a contract. It is lucky they did! Shortly after this, COVID-19 also struck and the pound fell further. My forward contract saved me thousands of pounds.
COVID-19 struck and the pound fell further. My forward contract saved me thousands of pounds.
How long was the buying process? Were you worried about the rate changing?
The buying process stretched over a long period for me. I was very worried that I would not be able to honour the terms of the contract – making the deposit, exchanging such a large amount of money (my life savings) and doing it all by the contract deadline. The COVID-19 lockdown prevented me from selling my house, so I was behind schedule. I became anxious that I may be penalised for missing deadlines and may lose my deposit or my special rate.
However, my trader, Martin, was really easy to talk to on the phone. He always kept calm, even when I became a bit emotional. He offered some solutions and flexibility to allay my fears. When Martin wasn’t available, the rest of the team were there and were equally friendly and willing to answer any questions.
I used Martin for all my dealings. It’s good to have the same person and create a bit of a relationship. With so many companies now, you can’t speak to anyone on the phone – it’s just keypad options or robots. I like the personal touch.
Would you use Smart again, and if so, why?
I will probably use Smart a lot in the future to transfer my pension payments as it will be a better rate than through the bank. As I now have a relationship with Smart, I won’t be using another exchange service, as long as their rates remain competitive.
Overall Smart offer a friendly personal service. There’s always someone available by phone or email to speak to and a willingness to find a way around personal problems that may crop up.
There’s always someone available by phone or email to speak to and a willingness to find a way around personal problems that may crop up.
What are your next plans?
My next plans are to relax in the sun, make home improvements, grow vegetables, entice my family and friends out for holidays, learn Portuguese and become a resident of beautiful Portugal. It is such a friendly place!
If you would like to enjoy a stress-free life in the sun like Michele, do ensure that your money is protected from the risks of currency fluctuations. Speak to our friendly team today on (+44) 20 7898 0541 about your requirements and the possibility of using a forward contract.