Property Cheat Sheet: Portugal
Portugal has one of the highest rates of property ownership in Europe, with 75% of the population owning their own home. The country’s real estate market was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008, but has been growing ever since, despite a small knockback during the pandemic. With a relatively low cost of living compared to the rest of Europe, a variety of locales to choose from, and a rich, unique culture, Portugal is an excellent place to make your home.
Lisbon is an attractive choice for many expats. While it may be smaller than many cities, all of the amenities and attractions of an international European city are present and correct. It also has a lower cost of living and a more communal vibe than many of the more sprawling metropolises. Porto and Amadora are other options for those looking for city life, whereas those seeking a more rural setting are also spoilt for choice. The coastal towns of the Algarve are great for those seeking excellent seafood, while inland locales offer rivers, lakes and rolling hills. The North offers a slightly more temperate climate and plenty of historic sites.
It’s also worth mentioning the Golden Visa programme. If you are a non-EU citizen buying a property above a certain value, then you can qualify for residency through this programme. This grants freedom to move throughout the Schengen Area freely, so is excellent for those looking to circumvent some of the loss of freedoms incurred by Brexit.
Portugal has no restrictions on foreigners buying property, other than requiring a VAT identification number, known as a número de identificação fiscal (NIF) or número de contribuinte. This can be obtained from the tax office or by opening any bank account in the country.
While English speakers are common in Portugal, it’s probably still worth working with an estate agent to help you find the best property for you. These should have a licence number that you can check with Instituto da Construção e do Imobiliario (the body responsible for construction and realty) to ensure they are legit. If you feel comfortable, websites like Rightmove also operate in Portugal, so you can search there too.
Once you have chosen your property and secured a mortgage, you will need to engage a lawyer to help you with contracts and other formalities. It’s worth noting there are two professions in Portugal, the solicitador and advogado. A solicitador is a conveying specialist, and an advogado is a qualified lawyer. The advogado, although more expensive, will be the better choice when arranging your house purchase. It is not legally required to do a survey, but you may still wish to for your own piece of mind. As a note, the bureaucracy is notoriously slow in Portugal, so it can take a while for processes to move.
Once an offer has been made, accepted and you have returned to the bank to finalise the mortgage, the contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda (sale contract) will be signed with the notary. Next, the deposit will be paid and a completion date agreed upon with the seller, at which point the Imposto Municipal sobre Transmissões (property transfer tax) will be paid. Finally, the Escritura Publica de Compra e Venda (Deed of Purchase and Sale) will be signed and the property will be registered in your name.
Of course, these funds will almost always be in Euros. Currency UK ensure that our clients get the most out of their money when making currency exchanges, especially when dealing with large sums. We can also hold money on account for you prior to your purchase and lock in an exchange rate for you giving you certainty on your property purchase or sale.