The property buying process in Portugal is straightforward, however regulations by the Portuguese government often means there is a high degree of bureaucracy involved.

If you understand what to expect before beginning your search and engage an English speaking lawyer the process should be straightforward. Look for a lawyer who is working for you and doesn’t have conflicting loyalties, and who will make sure the property is free of debt and restrictive clauses.

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Mainland Portugal is divided into 5 main regions:

buying property in portugal - north portugalPorto

Porto and the North – Porto is Portugal’s second largest city famous for its Port wine. The old sailing port of Porto was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Parts of the north are more mountainous and there are many traditional houses ripe for development at low prices, while the Douro River with its stunning scenery is considered prime real estate.

buying property in portugal - central portugalCentro

Centro – The Silver Coast (Costa de Prata) is located in the centre of the country, 1-2 hours’ drive from Lisbon. It combines some of the best beaches, good weather and historic significance. It is also much less developed than the Algarve. The inland mountain are dotted with schist villages, thermal springs and offer outdoor activities including tracks for mountain biking and walking, rock climbing, abseiling, rafting and canoeing.

View properties for sale in Central Portugal

View properties for sale in Coimbra

View properties for sale in Leiria

View properties for sale in Santarem

buying property in portugal - lisboaLisbon

Lisbon – Portugal’s capital and the largest city in the country. This area offers a great range of cultural, shopping, leisure and sport activities. It also has some of the most stunning beaches in Europe.

View properties for sale in Lisbon

buying property in portugal - algentejoAlentejo

Alentejo – This region covers nearly a third of the country, is sparsely populated and has some of the lowest property prices in the country. It is the breadbasket of Portugal and makes half its wine and is the largest cork producer in the world. Along the coast the terrain is hilly and rugged, with small sheltered coves between the cliffs, many of which are ideal for surfing.

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buying property in portugal - algarveAlgarve

Algarve – The most popular region of Portugal for foreign holiday makers as well as a thriving expat community.

This is all thanks to the Mediterranean climate, numerous golden beaches along the rocky coastline landscape and picturesque castle towns and historic villages.

It is also one of the best golfing regions in the world.

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View properties in Faro

Top 10 tips for buying property in Portugal

  1. +Searching for the right property

    Starting a property search is normally an exciting time, as you get to know a new area and see what sort of properties are available. But it can quickly turn to frustration if you if you are using a number of local estate agents’ websites to co-ordinate your search.

    Property portals are a fantastic way to search a particular region or area using specific criteria to get a full overview of what is available on the market – all in one place. Most real estate agents have both their own website as well as listing on large property portals so you won’t miss out.

    Property portals have thousands of listings from estate agents, developers and private sellers, giving you a wide range of properties and sellers to choose from.

    You can also use the search features to narrow down your search and help you find properties that you are meet your property requirements, giving you greater choice and ensuring that your time isn’t wasted with properties that don’t match your criteria.

    Foremost Property Group is a property portal with over 75,000 listings worldwide from credible estate agents, developers and private sellers.

    Established in 2007 to help estate agents find buyers for their properties by giving their properties exposure to buyers on a larger scale.

    Year upon year the number of properties on our website is increasing as more local estate agents use our portal.

    This benefits you as the buyer, as you have a greater range to search through and choose from.

  2. +Set your budget

    It’s important to understand all of the costs associated with purchasing a property in Portugal before you decide on the maximum amount you can offer on a property.There are a number of factors to consider when setting your budget. These include mortgage repayments, purchasing costs, renovation work and ongoing costs.

    Purchasing costs include legal and notary fees, mortgage fees, stamp duty, property tax and VAT if you are purchasing a new-build.

    Ongoing payment post-purchase include regular maintenance of a pool or gardens and if you are purchasing an apartment or a property in a gated complex there will be ongoing service charges for shared areas.

    Finally, one of the biggest mistakes buyers make is using the exchange rate at the point in time they start their search to determine their budget. The smallest fluctuations can have a huge impact on affordability.

    Speak to Foremost Currency Group who can help you to minimise these variables.

  3. +Don’t rush

    If on your first viewing trip to Portugal the first house that you see is the villa of your dreams it may be difficult to hold back saying “we’ll take it”. Unfortunately impulse buying can often be plagued with problems as you have let your emotions lead the way, rather than knowledge of the market or buying process.This villa may be the one you end up buying but before making any offers ensure you understand the full buying process from the initial offer and all the due diligence that is required, through to signing the final contract. Also get to know the local area to find out what amenities are available nearby and the convenience of transportation links.

    Learn about what the property market is doing in the areas that you are looking in to see whether properties are in high demand and are selling for above asking price, or if the region has slowed down. This will certainly impact upon the offer that you make and could save you thousands in you do your homework.

    With such a big decision ahead of you it is important to research, know all the facts and not buy on impulse as this will help you in the long run to find the property that is right for you. In this case knowledge is power!

  4. +Speak to expats

    There’s no better way of finding out about living in a foreign country then speaking to someone who has been there and done that. Expats are a fantastic source of knowledge and can tell you both the highlights and pitfalls of purchasing in the part of Portugal that you are considering. Although you can get a good overview of a location by visiting it, or even renting there, it is often the detailed purchasing advice and recommendations from expats that is the most valuable.The first hand advice from someone who has successfully made the transition can be found not just through face to face meetings, but also via a number of expat forums, blogs and publications that are filled with information and the experiences of others.

  5. +Location, location, location

    There’s no better way of finding out about living in a foreign country then speaking to someone who has been there and done that. Expats are a fantastic source of knowledge and can tell you both the highlights and pitfalls of purchasing in the part of Portugal that you are considering. Although you can get a good overview of a location by visiting it, or even renting there, it is often the detailed purchasing advice and recommendations from expats that is the most valuable.The first hand advice from someone who has successfully made the transition can be found not just through face to face meetings, but also via a number of expat forums, blogs and publications that are filled with information and the experiences of others.

  6. +Get a Fiscal Number

    Before purchasing a property you will need a Fiscal (tax) Number – Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF).Getting a NIF is one of the first things you should do when you arrive in Portugal as just like a tax file number this will help you with any ‘official’ activities such as setting up a bank account and paying tax.

    Unlike the UK you also need a NIF for non-tax related activities such as buying a car and setting up utilities and mobile phone contracts.

    Getting a NIF is a relatively simple process, one that you don’t have to be a resident for, and costs around €10.

    To apply for a NIF you can go to the local tax office (Repartição de Finanças) with your passport and proof of address (often a foreign address is acceptable for non-residents) and you can get one while you wait. If you don’t have a local address you can usually use your lawyer’s or real estate agent’s address.

  7. +Learn the language

    Portuguese isn’t the easiest language to learn but if you plan to spend any time in Portugal the locals will appreciate the effort you have made if you have learned at least the basics.These include greetings such as hello, goodbye, good morning, good evening, numbers (1-20 are essential), days and months and standard words and phrases such as yes, no, how much?

    If you are in an area that is very densely populated by expats then learning Portuguese may not be a priority for you, but being fluent in Portuguese is going to make integration into Portuguese life much easier and it will certainly help when trying to get basic services such as utilities or banking and if you need to communicate with tradesmen.

    There are language courses and books and online language resources that you can start to use before you leave for Portugal or once you get there, but often learning a few words or phrases a day can do wonders for your vocabulary!

  8. +Meet the Residency Requirements

    EU citizens can buy property and live freely in Portugal but need to register as a resident within 3 months of living there.If you’re a non-EU citizen you can still purchase property in Portugal but there are restrictions on the amount of time you spend there each year. To get around this non-EU citizens can get a full residency permit through the Golden Visa scheme.

    The government’s Immigration and Border Service (SEF) has information on this.

    If you are an EU citizen and you intend to relocate to Portugal then you will need to register as a resident within 3 months.

    This can be done at the local town hall or at the Portuguese Immigration Service – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF). You will need to register your long-term presence in the country by applying for a Registration Certificate – Certificado de registo de cidadao da uniao Europeia.

    Remember to take in with you suitable ID such as your passport, proof of address and fiscal number (NIF).

    Often your local town hall will require more documentation to prove that you won’t be a burden on the state. This registration certificate lasts for 5 years and after this you can visit the local SEF to request permanent residency.

  9. +Find a job

    If you are moving to Portugal and plan to work then Portuguese language skills will normally be a requirement of the role.The only exception is in very touristy or expats spots such as in the Algarve and usually within the tourism sector.

    Also if English is your first language, then English teaching roles are often in demand.

    The best way to find work in Portugal is usually through networking and local connections.

    It is amazing how often roles are not even advertised and having a referral from someone they trust is a bonus for a hiring employer. The Portuguese-British Chamber of Commerce could be a good way to start with your networking activity.

    Having other language skills such as Spanish, German or French may help you secure professional roles in large multi-nationals that are based in Lisbon and will also make you a more desirable applicant for many tourism roles too.

    Don’t expect to achieve salaries or hourly rates at the same rate you would have received in the UK. Salaries are much lower in Portugal but these are offset with the lower cost of living.

    If you work in Portugal then you will be expected to pay Portuguese income tax. Ensure you understand the requirements involved and if necessary engage a tax specialist.

  10. +Get expert currency market information

    Use a specialised currency broker to keep you informed on currency market movements and give you personalised guidance on the best currency exchange options to suit your needs.Whether you are exchanging money for your house deposit, the balance of the house, mortgage payments or for renovation work after purchasing your property you will want to ensure you make the most of your currency.

    Foremost Currency Group, our sister organisation, have been providing specialised currency guidance to thousands of property buyers for over 10 years.

    You will be assigned a dedicated broker who will become your point of contact for all your currency transactions and they will use their market knowledge of the euro to assist you in transferring money abroad and help you to understand live rates.

    Security is of paramount importance when exchanging your currency and Foremost Currency Group are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for the issuing of electronic money under the Electronic Money Regulations. Offering exchange rates of up to 5% higher than high street banks and with no hidden fees or commission Foremost Currency Group is a safe option when moving your funds to Portugal.

Disclaimer:
This guide is provided for general information purposes only and none of eh information represents formal advice. Foremost Property Group cannot be held responsible for the consequences of decisions or actions you take throughout the process of buying or selling a property. We strongly recommend you seek independent advice at all stages of your property sale or purchase.

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