Property to Buy in Portugal

Finding a property to buy in Portugal can be an exciting and, at times, exhausting process that involves reading up on the property market, researching your chosen area, drawing up a shortlist of potential properties and going over to Portugal to visit them. Once you have found a property to buy in Portugal, you are only on the first rung of the ladder and have a few more things to do before you can call the property your home. There are different ways of purchasing a property in Portugal, such as auctions and private sales, but all property purchases are subject to Portuguese law, even transactions between two foreign parties.

If you buy a property in Portugal at auction, there are a few things to bear in mind. Some Portuguese auctions are ordered by the court (possibly repossessions) and others are voluntary. Those intended to recover the seller’s debt often yield extremely low prices and a few incredible bargains. During the last recession some houses sold for 30 per cent of their ‘value’ as, once the debt and expenses are covered, there is no motivation to push for a higher price. These days such bargains are rarer but auctions still tend towards the cheap side of property prices. Make sure you consult a lawyer before embarking on buying a property at auction as the process is not easy. Auctions are advertised six to eight weeks in advance in the local press and with posters in the local area. Go and see the property yourself, or send someone you trust. Estate agents will visit it for you for a fee (about €300) and then describe it, even sending photos. Whatever you do, DO NOT buy a property in Portugal without seeing it first, as it could be derelict or next to a motorway flyover and you wouldn’t know.

Private sales are more common in Portugal than in the UK, for example, where we use estate agents far more often, and as you drive around Portugal you will notice handmade Vende-Se (For Sale) signs. This method of finding property to buy in Portugal is less popular with foreigners because it involves a good level of Portuguese and you also need to be in the area. Still, your bilingual lawyer or estate agent will be able to phone on your behalf (for a fee) and, if the property really interests you this may be a necessary evil.

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