SpotLight on Joanna Lopes

Joanna Lopes

Joanna Lopes

Sales & Marketing Director - Diamond Properties Algarve

diamondp@mail.telepac.pt
+351 919 716 846
www.diamondpropertiesalgarve.com

Joanna Lopes

1. Describe your business in two paragraphs. 
Our company is Diamond Properties Algarve. We offer the services of a traditional family owned high street Estate Agent with a property portfolio in the Algarve, Portugal. Customers can just walk in off the street and we will help with all their property requirements. We sell Residential and Commercial Properties, help buyers find properties, rent properties both long term and holiday rentals. We use technology to be available to customers wherever they are in the World with a Live WebChat service on our website, and use internet based communications on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram. We can also offer Live tours of properties using Iphone Facetime for buyers thousands of miles away.

Property owners, especially owners abroad, can benefit from our bespoke Property Management Service. We take care of their visiting family, friends and guests, available 24/7 with our bilingual skills fluent in English and Portuguese. We also open property owners post, pay their utility bills, pool cleaning, garden maintenance, maid and laundry service. With our Vehicle Management Service we valet, MOT, Service and Insure the owners car, even having their own car waiting for them at Faro Airport when they arrive and we pick it up when they depart.

2. What are your company's Unique Selling Points (USPs) in Portugal or in Ireland or in both markets if present in both?
Our customer journey is a one-to-one experience, from start to finish, so the relationship is very close and personal. We meet every owner, every buyer and every property. Every customer deals with us 100% of the time. 

Every property is just a short drive away from our shop so we are well informed, established and respected in the community.  We take buyers on personal tours showcasing not just the properties but what the community has to offer.

Buyers are warmly welcome to discuss their property requirements and ask any questions in the comfort and privacy of our corner shop.

This year our company is celebrating 25 years in business, we remain in the same village it was founded, in a corner shop in a prime location in the pretty village of Boliqueime, part of Loule Council. It is a rare quality to have such a steadfast presence in this industry.

3. What achievement/success story(ies) are you most proud of?
I love when something extraordinary and unexpected happens. We took on a listing over 350 miles away, luckily we sold it to the first buyer to walk through the door so had to cancel the second buyer viewing arriving from Dubai. We have also been so successful to match buyers to properties that we have sold the property even before it is fully on the market. Twice in 2017 and 2019 we have sold the first property the buyer viewed, to the same repeat loyal customers who upsized.

4. What are your business current challenges and in the 2/3 years to come?
I would like to continue to positively contribute to improving the customer experience, the integrity of the property industry, the exposure of the Algarve as a chosen destination and to the economy of the country, by focusing on three areas a) Customer Service b) Communication and c) Marketing.  As a small business owner in this industry, you have to tick a lot of boxes to keep your Estate Agent license such as annual fees, Police Checks, Insurance, company registration, invoice computer system and pay our shop rent, social security and taxes etc, but the challenge lies in people on social media some outside of the country, trying to give advice and sell properties without meeting all these legal requirements or credentials. When we started we undertook training and had to pass an Exam at Faro University, so I hope the future brings more people inline like these requirements to protect buyers, property owners and the reputation of this challenging industry.

5. What do you think makes Portugal and/or Ireland an attractive destination to conduct your business? 
Business of any kind is all about the people and how you treat them. I feel the communities and cultures in both countries are very similar, courteous, very religious and family orientated. If I walk around my dad’s small hometown, every one I pass, even total strangers, will say ‘How are ye’ without expecting a response. It is the same in a small village in the Algarve, if you pass someone in the street or walk into the post office you have to be courteous and say Bom Dia/Boa Tarde (good morning or afternoon) but you would be expected to reciprocate the greeting.  I think the welcoming spirit of the community is so important to make you feel at home. I want to help more Irish individuals and businesses interested in property in Portugal and the Algarve, as I relate to both so well.

6. What sectors do you think will thrive in Portugal and Ireland in the coming years and why?
Property prices and demand has risen in both countries, drawing in more and more buyers from all over the World. Both countries have a reputation for the people being very welcoming and both are fairly unspoilt, uncrowded, offering beautiful nature with both their countrysides and beaches.  We took our sons on a holiday of a lifetime to Dubai and the Maldives and we thought out of the two to chose from as their favourite, it would be Dubai for the incredible architecture, lively modern city with amazing leisure activities and shopping malls, but they both choose the nature of the Maldives. So I think the future generations will be drawn more to nature and Portugal and Ireland will positively thrive in home ownership and I hope remain unchanged in their charm.

7. What is the best business advice you have ever received?
I’m glad you asked this question. When we started our business we had an unplanned welcome visit from the owner of a long established and well respected Estate Agent Bernard Jordan (RIP) offering us 5 pieces of business advice that we still use today:-

Good communication

Keep your integrity

Be on time

Deliver on your promises

Enjoy what you do

What I do everyday for a living is a vocation to me, so the quote ‘Love what you do, do what you love’ is very appropriate and I try to apply my favourite word ‘gumption’ in all aspects of my life.

8. How do you think the IPBN can help you achieve your objectives and what do you expect from your IPBN membership?
As a husband and wife team, with his parents from Portugal and mine from Ireland, we feel we have the perfect blend to be proud members of this important network and well placed to do business with the Irish and Portuguese communities wherever they are.

We want to use our expertise and professional skills for anyone thinking of buying or selling a property or business in Portugal and the IPBN network will greatly contribute to this goal with their connections, exposure, support, credibility and events.

9. Favourite destinations in Portugal and why?
I love the Algarve, Lagos a coastal town on the West, is so special to me as I married there and it was the first place I fell in love with in Portugal as I first holidayed there over 30 years ago, I feel its location is more remote. Lagos and further North West up to Aljezur, has a wild coast like the Wild Atlantic Way. I highly recommend a trip to Sagres, discover the wilderness, and history and you must stay to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean (top tip bring a jumper).

I also love Loule where I spend a lot of my time, it ranges from having beautiful countryside parishes and villages in the hills with spectacular sea or mountain views, to a wonderful traditional high street in the main town of Loule, with a theatre, fashion stores, restaurants, cafes and a spectacular morning market which will satisfy all 5 senses. Loule also includes coastal towns and their fabulous beaches, restaurants and golf courses such as Vilamoura, Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. Loule is home to Mar Shopping Loule a huge indoor shopping centre with fashion and homeware shops, a cinema and restaurants and the Designer Outlet Algarve an open air shopping centre next door offering discounted designer brands. Being in the Central Algarve I feel there are much more accessible facilities and services, it is so central you can more easily head East to Tavira or Spain or West to Albufeira, Lagoa or Lagos or even North to Beja, Lisbon and Porto, its location and access to several road systems and train lines, makes it very versatile for exploring.

We are members of many classic car associations which takes us all over Portugal, I love travelling and exploring, I believe that is why we work so hard to enjoy time with family discovering.

10. Favourite destinations in Ireland and why?
Mayo is my favourite county I spent all my holiday childhood there.  I especially love Achill Island and Belmullet where my parents were born, I still have a lovely Uncle running the family farm and my children love spending time with their cousins and helping with the cows, sheep, donkies,  feeding the baby lambs and driving the tractor. Ireland feels like home, it has my heart and soul.