Julie Russell and Kaja Decoz founded Russell & Decoz, Mediação Imobiliária Real Estate, Lda 30 years ago. It is now one of the oldest real estate agencies in the country, and particularly in the Algarve region where it operates with emphasise given to the Sotavento (Eastern Algarve). The company is well acquainted with the oscillations of the market and also recognizes the need for trained consultants. A need that has become more apparent since the existing legislation for the sector has been dormant. João Soeiro, technical consultant at Russell & Decoz characterizes the region where they work and highlights the issues of trained consultants and the importance of foreign investment in the East Algarve.
(Reading time 6 min)
Q: Russell & Decoz has been operating in the Algarve market for 30 years and works, in a particular way, in the Eastern Algarve. What distinctive characteristics does this region have that makes it of special interest for real estate?
Russell & Decoz started working in the property market in 1992, always with a focus on the Eastern Algarve area. Compared to the Central and Western Algarve, the Eastern part has always been more natural and with a smaller touristic impact. A more preserved region, with several protected areas, one of which being the Ria Formosa nature park. At Russell & Decoz we are passionate about nature and people, it has always been our mission to seek the best solution for our clients within these quality standards: to live in harmony with the surrounding environment and to take advantage of the most important characteristics of this area of the Algarve - quality of life, natural beauty and undoubtedly the friendliness of the people. In these 30 years we have been observing a great growth in the development of properties with a steady improvement in quality.
Q: How do you characterize the real estate market, in the region where you function? What type of real estate is most in demand?
The real estate market in the Algarve region is typical of a coastal area with a lot of touristic demand. In our particular area the supply is relatively small as far as new properties are concerned, as new construction is moderate. Our portfolio includes a large percentage of single-family homes of different typologies and characteristics. We have a small portion of apartments and some investment properties, for which we prepare a sales strategy to demonstrate to investors how they can get the best out of the property.
Q: Currently, house prices continue to rise and the "real estate bubble" is an increasingly discussed scenario. Does it seem real to you that this will happen?
In an area where there is little supply, you can always expect a steady price increase when demand is high, which has been the case since 2021. What we try to do at Russell & Decoz is to offer our seller a sound analysis, on a qualitative and quantitative basis, relating to the real value of the property, so that the deal materializes in the best way. However, with the competition we face, there is a great tendency on behalf of some third parties to make proposals with no logical basis, that always leaves us in a delicate situation. The current scenario that we are experiencing with the crisis in Ukraine, now affects all of Europe leading to rising interest rates and inflation, this does not help the market growth. In our region a "real estate bubble" is possible, but the factors previously mentioned could delay or even nullify it.
Q: How would you describe the significance of foreign investment in the Eastern Algarve region?
Extremely important. Our market is essentially foreign, certainly more than 90% from various points in Europe. Our Portuguese clients are very few and their target is usually lower cost properties with the foreign clients buying the larger properties. This fact contributes in very direct way to the increase in value of the properties, because the seller is aware of the greater investment capacity of the foreign market.
Q: How would you characterize the type of client that approaches you nowadays?
Usually, they are a couple or individuals looking for either a vacation home or a place to live permanently and always in the Algarve region. Few of our client are young couples, being more often couples in an age range of over 40 years. Various nationalities are represented as we have already mentioned, and this leads to different expectations on what they will find here. Often, there is a difference between the demand and the supply. Usually, people will arrive with qualitative expectations that you can’t find in this area. We recognize standards over the years and try to use this expertise to help optimize the process and decision making by providing detailed information tailored to each and every case.
Q: In recent years there are many new consultants with absolutely no experience in the area who are now responsible for real estate transactions. New legislation is being drafted to prevent this from happening. Where does Russell & Decoz stand on the matter of training its collaborators and the importance of regulating this area of activity?
Associations are trying hard to offer simple, practical courses, but it is a fact that there is currently a large influx into the profession, and there are no impositions, such as a concrete knowledge base. Another important aspect is that some companies appoint a salespeople without even having a physical space. They are freelancers who risk everything to get a sale without having to invest in training. At Russell & Decoz, training has been a constant over the years and we have a team trained in different areas, this guarantees our clients high reliability in the information provided. We believe that training is very important and we agree that IMPIC should continue with the proposal to increase the quality and regulation of real estate companies.
Q: Considering the 30 years of activity in the real estate sector what prospect do you foresee for the future? What are the goals expected to achieve by 2022, that you can reveal to us?
Russell & Decoz already has two generations of its founders working in the company, so we are counting on continuing the company for many more years to come. We have a very solid base of clients who have sought us out and recommended us over the years. On the other hand, we have kept up with technological developments and there has been a constant upgrading of hardware and software at all levels. We are constantly boosting our social media presence and taking advantage of these tools, while increasing the digital literacy of everyone on the team.