Property Purchasing Guide

A step-by-step guide to buying a property in Portugal...

Step 1: Get a lawyer

It is advisable to use a Portuguese-speaking lawyer to help with the bureaucracy and the translation of the documents, when needed.

Step 2: Find a real estate agent

The most common type of broker for this kind of transaction are real estate agents, who are usually allocated to a specific area and work only with properties within that same geographical space.

The real estate agent, who should be licensed by the Government to act in that capacity, will be able to help the purchaser negotiate the price with the owner, as well as the fees and charges for which the owner is responsible. Unless it is agreed otherwise, the commission fee to be paid to the real estate agent falls under the owner’s responsibility.

A list of reputable estate agents can often be found through the Chamber of Commerce.

Step 3: Obtain information on the property

Once a property has been found, and all necessary arrangements with the owner have been made, the Land Registration certificate for the property should be obtained in order to verify the owner of the property, whether the property is available for sale and that the property is free of any encumbrances (such as mortgages).

Step 4: Promissory Contract of  Purchase and Sale and Deposit

It is common for the owner to ask for the signature of a promissory contract of purchase and sale, which acts like a warranty for both parts and sets all the conditions of the sale and the consequences in case there is a defaulting party. This contract usually also sets a rule obliging the buyer to pay a deposit.

If the seller fails to comply with the obligation set in this contract or gives up the sale, they are obliged to pay back double the deposit.

For properties under construction the payment terms are made in staged payments as the construction is completed. These terms are negotiated with the real estate broker or contractor. It can be drawn up by private document or by a public notary and will eventually be signed by all parties and their legal representatives.

Step 5: Pay the property tax

Before signing the public deed of purchase of the property, the property transfer tax must be paid as it is a legal requirement in order for the sale to be effective.

Step 6 – Signing the public deed/Transfer of ownership

The persons representing each of the parties agree on a date to sign the public deed before a public notary, which serves the purpose of transferring the property from the old owner to the new one.

This document is signed by both parties in the presence of the public notary. The notary makes the necessary number of copies and keeps the original, and each one of the parties keeps a copy. The lawyer or the public notary then arranges for registration with the Land Registry in the purchaser's name which ensures proof of legal ownership.

Step 7 – Pay the stamp duty tax

With the conclusion of the public deed the stamp duty tax should be paid.

Information provided by MC&A - Attorneys at Law Av. da Liberdade, 262 - 4º Esq, 1250-149 Lisbon, Portugal Tel: +351 21 356 99 30, Fax: +351 21 356 99 39 Website / email