Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware.
Portugal is a wonderful country to live in. But buying property can be a risky business for newly-arrived ex-pats.
The “Golden Rule” is: Always remember that the estate agent is acting on behalf of the seller – not YOU. No matter how friendly and helpful they appear, agents have only one goal: to get the highest price for their client, and the biggest commission for themselves.
Almost all properties advertised online will be at inflated prices. Details and photos may be scanty, out of date or simply incorrect. The same may be true of the verbal information the agent gives you when you visit properties, so beware! In other words, what is promised is not always what you get.
Whether you are buying a house that is in habitable condition, renovating a ruin, or buying land for building from scratch, there can be serious pitfalls, and as a foreigner with little or no fluency in our language you could get into expensive trouble.
So the estate agent represents the seller. But who represents you, the buyer? Who looks after your interests and translates all those strange documents so you know exactly what they say? Answer: your lawyer.
You must have an English-speaking lawyer like me to guide and advise you, obtain necessary documents, carry out all the property searches, and draw up all your contracts.
For some ex-pats, the whole buying process involves too many worries, expenses, and too much time. This is especially true if they are still living outside Portugal and having to travel back and forth between countries. But there is an alternative.
Power of Attorney
If you choose, I can represent you and carry out all your wishes with regard to a property purchase – and you won’t even need to be here in Portugal.
Power of Attorney means that I can do any or all of these things for you:
- Locate potential properties – Many will not even be listed with real estate agents yet. Through my network of contacts, I can find properties left empty after a death, bank foreclosure or overseas relocation of the owners.
- Negotiate the best price for the property/properties that interest you. In many cases, this can be a very significant saving.
- Carry out all searches, get necessary licences, certificates, and registrations.
- Pay all the fees for the above searches and documents.
- Draw up all the contracts.
- Pay all necessary transfer taxes, stamp duties and Notary fees.
- Sign the title deeds or Escritura on your behalf.
If you would like to discuss this option, simply phone me.
P.S. My father owns a construction company near Paris, and I have grown up among many property purchases and renovations. So I know quite a lot about this field, including realistic valuation of properties here in Portugal.
Renting Property in Portugal – Know the Rules.
Ex-Pat Tenants: If you hope to have a holiday home or live in Portugal permanently, it can make sense to rent for a year or more while you see how this culture suits you. This will give you a chance to look at properties without any pressure and to discover the “real” market prices Portuguese people pay.
I will make sure you have your “Contribuinte” number, help you to set up your bank account and show you how to pay and record rent online. I’ll ensure your landlord gives you a fair and valid rental contract, and also issues you with the receipts you must get to save some money with Portuguese taxes. Then, if you should ever find yourself in dispute with the landlord – over repairs, for example, I can negotiate for you to reach a fair resolution.
Ex-Pat Landlords: Many ex-pats buy a property that has extra accommodation units, or they build an apartment with a view to renting it out to derive ongoing income. This sounds like a very good idea. But be careful!
Your “business activity” must comply with the Portuguese Tourism Laws, and our tax system, which require registration with the correct authorities. Failure to register and report your earnings can result in a fine of between €25 to €44,891.82.
Talk to me first. I will help you to stay on the right side of Portugal’s laws and still make a nice bit of extra revenue from your property.
Source: Decreto-Lei n.º 39/2008, de 7 de março (updated)