While I feel very lucky to wake up every day in my new Portuguese home, it took more than good luck to get me here. It was the process leading up to my purchase that did it.
Knowing this, I caution all potential foreign investors to roll up your sleeves and dig into your homework before you start looking at properties.
Familiarize yourself with Portuguese law and governance, especially pertaining to real estate. International “White List” treaties, the application of property and income taxes, and fiscal responsibilities may factor into your future. Remember that the beach-and-café vacation you fell in love with isn’t the daily reality experienced by most homeowners and full-time residents.
Start Your Search Online
The Portuguese Consulate website clearly defines the information relative to each buyer’s citizenship. Depending on where you’re coming from, different rules and policies apply. The website also refers you to other resources that allow for further investigation to help you compile a focused snapshot of current conditions in the Portuguese market, region by region.
Get Professional Help
Consult with a lawyer, an accountant, and a real estate agent prior to making an offer on a piece of property… and certainly before signing any documentation.
Set Your Personal Priorities
Narrow your search with a personal checklist. My list included climate, medical services, accessible regional and international transportation, recreational facilities, walkable shopping and dining options, and whether the local library and cinema offered English-language books and movies.
These items reflected my goal as a permanent resident. If you intend to limit your stay to just part of each year or to rent out your property, your list likely will be very different.
This process eventually led me to the Eastern Algarve but, as much as I loved the idea of a great beach, I didn’t relish the flood of vacationers that overcrowd them every summer. A tamer, more traditional adventure was key… and Tavira was my perfect fit.
Typical Portuguese property descriptions may include the word “quinta,” referring to a home on rural acreage or any properties built on former farmland… “villa” for any detached, semi-detached, or townhouse that has a yard or urban land around it… or “Algarvean Cottage,” which describes the traditional architectural style of this region (typically measuring about 120 square meters).
Of course, there are multi-purpose and multiple-dwelling structures, including store-top flats, residential condominiums, and resort apartments.
Remember These Helpful Tips
- Establish what features are included in the listing’s size. Some size references include balconies, terraces, patios, storage areas, and garages—even those that must be accessed by a stairwell or an elevator.
- Are these features for private use only or part of a common space that’s shared?
- Is the property surrounding the listing owned by the municipality? That shaded patch of grass behind your unit could be a poop-and-scoop greenbelt for dogs.
- Is parking important? Verify whether available parking is underground, designated, first-come, first-served street parking, free, metered, or limited to certain days and times.
- Consider access. Listings may be in pedestrian-friendly, no-traffic zones. Some are on one-way, steep, narrow, or cobblestoned roads. Can the property be reached by car, or will groceries and luggage have to be carried on foot?
- Don’t buy land without checking if you can build on it. If it has a ruin or a house, you can usually use that as a base, but you can’t expand much. Always check with the local municipality for illegalities.
- Residential buildings can be centered in heavily congested commercial districts blocked by deliveries. Will you experience a high level of street noise? Observation over time should play an important part in your decision to purchase in this kind of a situation.
With all of this information under your belt, I can now confidently say, “Welcome to the Portuguese real estate market. Good luck with your search!”