When we had not yet found our home in Portugal, ‘going on vacation’ was similar for ‘going house-hunting’. This week we planned a staycation with day trips in our own region. And although we no longer hunt at all, we saw one nice property after another for sale and took a look now and then. The house in the picture above turned out to be already sold. 😉

Coincidentally, we received an email from a reader who actually went house-hunting in Northern Portugal this week. He wrote: “We are currently traveling through Portugal, to see which area suits us best, to eventually buy something. Do you have any tips on how we can best tackle this? Or which real estate agent in the Douro Valley area is good and whom we can contact? “

Readers’ posts are always fun to get, so don’t hesitate or leave something in the comments under the posts.
Now to the point!

Tips for finding a house in rural Portugal

We got most of the formal, legal knowledge from two good books:
Wonen en kopen in Portugal (nieuwste editie 2019) sorry only in Dutch
Buying Property in Portugal (latest edition 2015)
They explain very well how to buy a house in Portugal and what needs your attention during the purchase process.

And to prevent our reader from wasting their vacation days on hopeless viewings, I gave the following tips:

  • Communication by e-mail is not so common in Portugal. Don’t be surprised if you never receive an answer to your mail requesting information or a viewing of a house. Going by works better: often you get more attention than you initially asked for.

  • There are few, if any, purchase brokers in Portugal. Those that do exist are usually aimed at foreigners/ex-pats. You can easily find properties for sale yourself via a number of websites, such as:
    www.idealista.pt  (a platform where anyone can offer real estate on, with a handy tool on which you can select your search area on the map)
    www.olx.pt (marketplace site for Portugal)
    And what works very well, of course, is to drive through the country and in the areas that appeal to you, check the offer in the shop window with the local estate agents. I always tried to find out the location of the advertised house myself, so that we could already have a look without making an appointment with the real estate agent. (that can save you a lot of time too)

  • We were not impressed by the screening of the properties by the real estate agents. There is no difference between the large, well-known offices or the small ones. They all just as easily sell you a house that has been rebuilt in the past without a permit or that does not have a housing permit at all. So be aware of this yourself!

  • Before you go to view/make an offer, take a critical look at the photos, the description, and ask the agent for information. If the following alarm bells start to ring, the property must be very worthwhile to try to buy it anyway:
    1. the seller does not appear to be the (sole) owner
    2. If you see that the house has been renovated, ask for the building permit for that modification. If there isn’t one, require the current owner to fix it before you buy it.
    3. check whether there is a residence permit, the owner must be able to hand this over to you, or the house must be built before 1951.
    4. In any case, always ask whether ‘the documents’ are in order and whether you can view them before making a bid. Think of the registration in the land registry, the size of the lot, the number of buildings, etc.
    And if it takes longer than two weeks before you get an answer to these four questions, then it is usually not OK.

  • Important for houses in the countryside: preferably view the house in midwinter and midsummer. How is the property exposed to the sun, is there still water for irrigation, are there forest fires regularly, and are the (unpaved) roads still accessible? We know this from our own experience: only after the purchase did we learn that from the end of November until the end of January the sun barely rises above the mountain. And then the sun only shines on our land for half an hour a day.

  • If you have found something you want to bid on, realize that, especially in the Portuguese countryside, it is a buyer’s market. You can therefore safely make the first offer (well) below the asking price. You will find out soon enough how much room for negotiation there is.

  • During the purchase process, you can always seek help from a mediator, and you will probably also hire a lawyer. Never, under any circumstances, hire a mediator or a lawyer recommended to you by the selling party!

  • Finally, everywhere in the country, you see for-sale-signs on properties, without mentioning an estate agent, but with a telephone number. This does not necessarily have to be a bad sign. If it really is your dream house, you will surely find a way to get in touch with the seller. 😉
Vende or Vende-se on the boards means for sale . Aluga-se means for rent.

Useful words when looking for a house in Portugal:

vende-sefor sale
imobiliáriareal estate
quintacountry house
moradiadwelling house
água de nascentespring water
poço de águawater well
furo de águawater borehole
sep 14, 2020


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