Hugh and Sue Ray-ner will have been waiting more than two years by the time they to move into their brand spanking new three-bed, three- bathroom penthouse apartment in Praia da Luz, six kilometres from Lagos in the western Algarve and 200 metres from the beach.
But the couple have no regrets about buying offplan at the Estrela da Luz resort, built by the UK-managed property firm Oceanico Developments. When their apartment is completed in March, it will have risen by around 25 per cent in value since they put down their deposit in January last year.
The couple bought their apartment for EUR320,000 (under pounds 220,000 at current exchange rates) and it is now worth around EUR400,000. They paid a 40 per cent deposit: 20 per cent when they signed the contract and 20 per cent when building work started. The remainder is due on completion.
"The apartment is a beautiful space, nearly 200 square metres with views of the sea," says Mr Rayner. "We plan to spend four months a year in Portugal, perhaps more, as we are both retired."
The couple, who come from Blackmore, Essex, have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the building work, as they had heard that Portuguese contractors can be unreliable. They have been over to check a couple of times and are impressed with how things are progressing, although they say some alterations have been made to their apartment that weren't in the original plans.
"The developers decide to do something differently and don't ask you before they do so because you're not there," says Mrs Rayner. "It is only when it is too late that you realise something's been changed."
Despite this, the Rayners are glad they bought on the basis of the architect's drawings, and that they were among the first to do so. "We had the pick of the plots," says Mr Rayner. "And if it doesn't work out, we know we have made a profit and can walk away."
The couple have not yet decided whether to let their apartment when they aren't using it. With access to indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa, gym, tennis court, art gallery, cafe and restaurant, there is plenty to keep holidaymakers occupied.
"We are thinking about letting it out, as rent is quite high in Portugal and it would more than cover our annual costs," says Mrs Rayner.
Around 1.4 million Britons own bricks and mortar abroad, with 150,000 buying in the past 12 months. Portugal is the third- most popular destination after Spain and France, says foreign exchange specialist Travelex. Around 10,000 Britons bought a property there in the past year.
And with a favourable exchange rate, this figure could swell. "For those considering purchasing a home in the euro-zone, now is as good a time as any, as the euro has recently jumped in value after a long-term slump," says Dino Leo, development and relationship manager at Travelex FX for Homebuyers.
"From a low of 1.4242 [to the pound] in January 2004, the euro rose 6 per cent in value to 1.5201 in August. While this represents a saving of only eight cents for every euro purchased, when you look at what's needed to buy a foreign property, that 6 per cent rise takes as much as EUR12,000 off a EUR200,000 home."
Many Britons buying in Portugal let their property. The buy- to- let market may be showing signs of saturation in the UK but this is far from the case in the Algarve, where Barclays is opening three new branches (in Almancil, Vilamoura and Lagoa) next month. …