Expat Essentials

Mónica Da Silva in Lisbon: Buying a property in Portugal can be fast and easy … here are my tips

We bought a property in 2019 because the rent prices were getting so expensive


Either as your first property or as an investment to rent or sell in the future, the real estate sector has great opportunities here. More and more people are interested in buying a property and moving to Portugal and enjoying everything this beautiful country has to offer.

If you are interested in living in one of the safest countries in the world and enjoy the wonderful weather all year
around, keep reading!

Why Portugal? Well, from the economic point of view, the cost of living in Portugal is really cheap and the price of properties is quite low compared to other European countries. Besides, you can find all types of houses and apartments, from really cosy old buildings to super modern and luxurious ones in a wide range of rural and urban areas.

The best part is that if you’re thinking of moving to Lisbon, even if you don’t have the whole amount to afford buying the property, the rent prices are so high that you’ll very likely be paying less for a mortgage to the bank than to your landlord if you were paying rent. Plus, after some years, the property will be totally yours.

You can use websites like Remax, Century 21, Idealista and Imovirtual, or go straight to their agencies and talk to a realtor. There are also properties being sold without intermediaries but you’d have to be really careful and maybe double check that everything’s in order with a lawyer if you want to go that way.

Our process for buying a property in Portugal

We decided to buy a property in 2019 because the rent prices were getting so expensive. It was the best decision we’ve ever made! Once we found our ideal apartment, the process was quite simple because it was being sold through Remax and they handled everything we needed. Now, here’s the thing: I speak Portuguese fluently and I’m a translator and interpreter so the language wasn’t a problem for us at all. However, the language barrier might be a problem, not just while speaking and clarifying details but also for reading, double-checking and even triple-checking the contracts.

You may think that hiring someone that could act as a language bridge could be an added cost and it is but it’s definitely worth it. The ideal and cheapest solution would be that the real estate agent speaks Portuguese and English, and there are more and more bilingual realtors working for these big agencies nowadays.

When there is an agency involved you just need to follow the process because they take care of everything:

• The first step would be to reserve the property signing a contrato-promessa which is a legal document in which the buyer and the seller commit to finish the purchasing-selling process by a given date and also agree to a down-payment.

• The second step is something very important: You need to make sure that the draft contracts explicitly state that the property is being sold free of debts and mortgages. This was written in our contract and there was also a representative of the Bank of Portugal the day we signed it to guarantee that it was true. We had an incident because they got my couple’s NIF wrong and had to get it changed in the caderneta predial (property tax document), so please double and triple check everything to make sure all the information is correct.

Another thing that you need to check is that the property has a valid certificado energético (energetic certificate) because it’s mandatory. Once you are the owner of a property, you will have to pay the IMI, this is the property tax you need to pay every year after you purchase the house, so make sure you keep an eye on that.

Finally, they also need to give you the original property plan when you sign the contract and, of course, the keys to your new home. Our transaction took less than two months from the first viewing of the apartment till the day we got the keys! But bear in mind that if there’s a mortgage involved it might take some more time.

The process for us was really fast and smooth. Our agent knew it was our first purchase so he was really patient and answered every question that could cross our minds. The best advice I can give you is to ask and clarify everything, even more if you’re not a Portuguese speaker.

About the author:

Mónica Da Silva was born in Venezuela but her parents and grandparents are Portuguese. She’s a teacher and translator. Mónica lived in Bonn, Germany for six months and has been in Lisbon for almost three years.

She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and a bit of German.

Read more of Mónica’s posts for Dispatches here.

Read more about Lisbon and Portugal in our Dispatches archives.

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