If you want to buy a house in Portugal,you are obviously dreaming of being able to settle in a satisfactory way and relax with your feet up and a Super Bock or a glass of green wine in your hand.
But between seeing the property you want and being able to relax, there are a number of nasty little traps that you must take into account or your dream may be ruined forever.Fortunately, we are here to help you with some good advice.
A big trap that could catch unprepared buyers coming from other locations is the law of surrogacy.The surrogacy imputes debts to the property rather than to the debtor,which means that if you are not careful, you may end up being held liable for ten years of unpaid taxes, three years of electricity bills and even a huge mortgage or personal debts that have been secured by the property.
(By the way, if you are moving to Portugal and want to buy a car when you arrive,know that the same law applies to vehicles.Make sure that when buying there are no debts using a service like Autocheck!)
Fortunately, any competent lawyer will find any debts that are associated with the property by verifying the Content Certificate, or deed. They should also verify that public service invoices and local taxes are up-to-date before signing the contract.
But this is one of the reasons why you should use a lawyer who is well aware of Portuguese law and not a family lawyer from your home country.
Another possible problem when buying property in Portugal – not so visible on urban properties or on new properties, but frequent in rural homes – is the dispersion of property. Often, the property has been inherited by family members and cousins, aunts, or grandchildren all have small holdings in the estate. Given that Portugal,by tradition,has always had high emigration rates,there may be a cousin living in Brazil,Bordeaux or Basildon who owns a part of the property and who can block the sale.Even in the best case scenario,trying to detect the whereabouts of a distant family member, who emigrated some time ago, can delay a sale by weeks, or months.
A good lawyer will check who the owners of the property are and can advise you if there is any difficulty associated with the sale of this – if you are in a hurry, you might want to consider another property.
Rural properties can also be a bit problematic when it comes to scriptures.Sometimes a property consists of numerous small plots - which can be effectively small. Some may never have been sold, while others may have been subdivided. In communities where "John is the owner of the field that goes from here to that big stone" this was effectively the usual way to demarcatise properties, so it can be difficult to figure out exactly what he's buying.Agents most of the time can't get a sense when it comes to dealing with details, so, and again,you must have a good lawyer or agent.
Buildings may also have been built without administrative registration. This may mean that your sty has to be knocked down, which is not so serious, but if it affects the house itself or a building you are planning to convert, it can be disastrous.However, and fortunately there is a legal procedure to resolve the problem.
It may be necessary to ensure that your purchase includes a "rectification", not only ensuring that the registration is up-to-date, but also legalising any existing buildings that do not have planning permission.The biggest difficulty will probably be agreeing with the seller to resolve things and find out who should pay for it.
Making sure the scriptures are correct can be a thankless task.Agents can help little, or nothing, so finding a really good and meticulous lawyer is the key to a successful purchase.
There's another little legal problem we should discuss. While in the UK you will pay your entry signal to a solicitor, or in France to an agent who has compulsory compensation insurance, or to a notary.
In Portugal real estate agents (and some legal firms)do not offer financial guarantees.This can cost you your signal if the agency goes bankrupt.Make sure your agent is legal and ensure that your money is kept in a separate customer account and not as part of the company's own funds.
Finally, there is a big trap when buying a property in some areas of Portugal, particularly in the Algarve. You may have visited the property in the summer, but if you want to live there all year round, do you know how everything works in winter? Some areas of the coast are summer-only destinations and most businesses close during the winter, so there will be no shops, bars, nightlife and possibly no neighbours.
If you want a destination to stay all year round, Algarve,Cascais or Estoril may be much more suitable weekend visitors and workers from other parts of Lisbon keep these locations lively,even outside the high season.
Alternatively you can decide to buy a property in Lisbon or even one of the largest cities in the interior.