Last Updated on May 4, 2022 by Letícia Melo
Investing in the real estate market in Portugal can be very rewarding. The market is increasing in value, and the country offers benefits to investors of any nationality.
But playing an investment in another country can be risky. It is necessary to know well how the market, the country, and the values work. In addition, you need to have an investor’s mindset.
That’s why Viv Europe has brought together the experience of years of consultancy in a complete guide to the real estate market in Portugal. Follow up and be more prepared to make a great investment.
We believe it is important to carry out a brief analysis of the evolution of the real estate market in Portugal over time. By doing that, we’ll have a more in-depth view of the current situation.
We will also talk about the procedure for purchasing property in Portugal, in addition to providing some important tips for anyone who intends to own a property in this country.
Finally, we will answer some frequently asked questions related to real estate in Portugal.
Historical analysis of the Real Estate market in Portugal
In order to have a deeper knowledge about the current situation of the Portuguese Real Estate market, we need to analyze the path that history took to reach this stage.
Before 2008, the real estate market in Portugal was on its regular course.
At that time, Portugal did not have the international expression that it currently has. So the price of the property was considered low, taking into account the European market.
The 2008 Crisis
In 2008, with the so-called subprime crisis, Portugal went through a period of a deep recession.
This crisis, which started in the United States, crossed the Atlantic and hit European countries hard. It caused Portugal to experience stagnation, affecting all productive activity, and also influencing the price of properties.
According to a report made by Banco BPI, the crisis caused a decrease of 10% in real estate prices.
Obviously, we cannot ignore that the European Union aid was essential for this turn, especially considering the loan they granted (that caused the imposition of a restriction policy of credit).
This restrictive policy was Troika.
The result of these measures was the growth of Portugal’s expression to the world.
This country, despite its little dimension, became one of the great European actors.
This spectacular international performance, which encouraged people from all over the world to move to this country, did influence the value of properties that had never experienced such a significant increase.
In 5 years, the price of m2 in Portugal practically doubled and started to compete (in terms of expensiveness) with other European countries, such as Spain and Italy.
It so happens that this increase in value did not reach all of Portugal in the same way.
Current situation of the real estate market in Portugal
Currently, Portugal has a heated real estate market, with many real estate agencies to assist in the process of buying and selling properties.
However, the mentioned difference in prices among the different regions of Portugal is still present.
The portal Idealista publishes the average m2 price per region monthly. In this sense, for comparison purposes, we have the following averages in September 2021:
Check out the prices per square meter in September 2021.
|Castelo Branco||738 €|
|Faial (ilha)||792 €|
|Madeira (island)||1,884 €|
|Pico (island)||1,104 €|
|Porto Santo (island)||1,362 €|
|São Miguel (island)||1,119 €|
|Terceira (ilha)||846 €|
|Viana do Castelo||1,067 €|
|Vila Real||932 €|
A quick look is enough to realize that the price of properties in the regions of Faro, Lisbon, and Porto is much higher than the others. That way, you can better understand the real estate market in Portugal.
In this sense, it is worth reading the analysis of the lawyer Celso Freitas, specialized in real estate law, who describes the situation experienced by this country:
(…) it couldn’t be different, due to the massive acquisition of properties at prices lower than those found in neighboring countries and considering that the construction of new homes was unable to keep up with the pace of sales, we verified the significant increase in the value of the properties, especially in the most demanding areas.
As an example, in 2014 we would be able to find a T1 (1-bedroom apartment) in the Porto region for an approximate value of 150,000€. Currently, this value corresponds to approximately 220,000€.
It is even mentioned that Portugal would be about to experience a real estate bubble since the value of the properties sold would no longer be in line with their effective price.
Anyway, even with the increase in the price of the real estate market in Portugal, there is still a wide demand for properties, precisely because of the benefits resulting from living in this country. For this reason, it seems that the increase in the value of real estate portrays a natural phenomenon of improvement in living conditions in Portugal.
It is important to note that, according to the international real estate portal Property Guide, Portugal is in 19th position among the 38 countries concerning the price of the property per m2.
Considering that this country is always listed among the most desired to live in, it does not seem that there is a discrepancy between the values offered.
Incentives for real estate investment outside the big cities
The discrepancy of prices among different cities in Portugal are not an ideal situation. After all, the more egalitarian the country is in terms of structure, housing conditions, and cost of living, the better.
However, it generates the possibility of carrying out public policies to develop the country, by encouraging housing in less developed regions.
In this sense, there are lots and lots of policies in Portugal with this objective. We can, therefore, mention a few:
- Under the “Work in the Interior” program, Portugal pay up to 4,800 € for workers and students who intend to live in the interior of the country;
- As the Budget Law of 2020 approved, the Golden Visa is valid in restricted regions. Therefore, most properties located in the regions of Lisbon, Porto and Algarve will no longer be eligible for this procedure after 2022;
- The Interior Tax Guide grants tax benefits for citizens to move to the interior of the country.
Incentive programs like these are many, however, it is also necessary for the government of Portugal to develop an adequate housing structure to encourage the citizen to move to these regions.
Why invest in real estate in Portugal
Forbes elected Portugal as one of the best countries to live in after the Covid crisis.
That’s because the country of the Pastel de Belém and Porto Wine has many strong points, such as safety and low cost of living. According to the mentioned article, Portugal has the following strengths:
- Year-round sunshine
- Good infrastructure
- International standard Health Care
- Great beaches
- Affordable cost of living
- The Language (English is widely spoken)
- Healthy living
- Retiree Residency
Due to the mentioned attractions, in addition to many others that the news did not mention, Portugal is becoming a European Star.
If you want to know even more reasons why Portugal is among the trending topics, read “8 reasons that made Portugal incredibly popular“.
Procedures for property acquisition
We have therefore arrived at the part where we will deal with the procedure for purchasing real estate in Portugal.
As with any purchase of expensive goods, the buyer must take some precautions before doing business.
Read our article How to buy a house in Portugal from abroad? Step-by-step to know all about this process.
Property search and selection
The search and selection of properties are one of the most important activities related to the acquisition.
In this stage the buyer or the real estate agent searches for properties on sale, considering the location, property conditions, the internal and external structure, and, obviously, the price.
Through search, it will be possible to find good opportunities across the country.
In case you need assistance in this task, you can always contact Viv Europe, as this company has partnerships with real estate agencies throughout Portugal.
Real estate due diligence
Real Estate due diligence is one of the main steps before the transfer of the property. Failure to do so may result in the need to pay additional unforeseen expenses, or even cancel the real estate transaction.
This procedure consists of a legal analysis of the information and documents related to the seller and the property, preventing, for example, the buyer from carrying out the transaction with a person in bad faith or the acquisition of a property with a real estate liability (such as condominium debts).
Therefore, especially at this stage, a legal analysis by a specialist lawyer is recommended to carry out a thorough review of the information related to the business. In this way, the buyer is ensured about the security in the acquisition, or even the withdrawal of the business, as the case may be.
You should notice that any real estate liabilities, as long as they are not serious enough to make the transfer of the property unfeasible, may be discounted from the final price of the property.
After the positive opinion of the lawyer concerning the property acquisition, the documentary stage begins.
The parties must agree on the conditions of the promise of the purchase and sale contract, when a preliminary installment is normally made to link the seller to the conclusion of the real estate transaction.
Notary offices can (and should) perform many of these procedures so that the documents can have public faith.
If the buyer opts for the acquisition through bank financing, it will be necessary to contract the loan with the financial institution.
This institution may also be a contractual party at the buying and selling contract.
In this contract, the property object of the acquisition can be used as collateral in favor of the bank granting the real estate credit.
From this moment on, it will be necessary to pay the fees and taxes levied on the property transaction to proceed to the subsequent register transfer through the Deed of Purchase and Sale.
Context of the crisis
We are currently going through difficult times due to the crisis arising from COVID-19 that affects the world economy.
Therefore, in times of confinement, it is difficult to dedicate ourselves to doing business, especially due to uncertainty regarding the economic situation in the future.
Saving becomes a necessity (and no longer a possibility) to face this uncertain period.
However, there is nothing to prevent us from striving to envision investment opportunities for the future, as this crisis will sooner or later come to an end.
We will now talk about the activities and costs required to acquire a property in Portugal, since the Real Estate sector is very attractive economically, mainly in regions close to large urban centers.
Costs associated with the real estate transaction
Until now, all expenses incurred on the transaction were related to the preparatory stages of this legal transaction. From this moment on, costs are related to the operation itself and are mandatory for the conclusion of the deal.
These are the most relevant costs:
Municipal Tax related to Property Transactions (IMT)
This is a tax that must be paid whenever there is a financial transaction related to the purchase and sale of the property.
It must be addressed to the Portuguese government before the execution of the Deed of Purchase and Sale and its value varies according to the type of property, location, and purpose.
Its value corresponds to the result of the following equation: Value of the property (property value or deed value, whichever is greater) multiplied by the rate published by the State, subtracted from the portion to be deducted.
This tax must also be paid to the State if the property is acquired through bank financing and corresponds to a rate of 0.8% on the value of the transaction.
In the case of Real Estate financing (mortgage loans), this tax is also levied on this amount in the same percentage.
Municipal Property Tax (IMI)
This is a tax on property the owner must pay annually.
This is a continuous expense and its value varies from 0.3% to 0.8% of the taxable equity value.
In addition to the aforementioned fees and taxes, the buyer must bear the procedural expenses necessary to conclude the legal transaction, among which we can highlight the obtaining of necessary certificates to verify the situation of the seller and the property, notary fees, drawing up of the Deed of Purchase and Sale and the registration of acquisition.
After the acquisition of the property, the new owner must pay the expenses incurred on the property.
Therefore, in addition to the IMI, which, as mentioned, will affect the property annually, the buyer must also pay, for example, expenses with condominium, electricity, gas, and water supply.
As you can see, the periodic expenses related to the property are not significant. However, it is important to keep in mind that you must separate this amount since we are dealing with essential services.
Tips to avoid being scammed
Finally, we will pass on some tips that may be useful in the process of purchasing a property and investing in the real estate market in Portugal. This way, you can avoid financial losses in this process, which can be quite stressful.
As mentioned, we recommend hiring a qualified professional. This advice has the sole objective of avoiding further losses by the buyers who believe they are able to carry out the procedure without legal advice. You can count on Viv Europe for this service.
A well-drafted Purchase and Sale Agreement may be enough to save the value of the property itself.
Expert lawyers deal with real estate-related demands every day, so malicious sellers are unlikely to deceive them.
Finally, some precautions must be taken into account to avoid being deceived in this procedure.
Always request notarized documents
It may seem basic, but many people are deceived by relying on all documents sent by the seller. Make sure they are original and legitimate documents upon ratification by a local notary office.
Make a visit to the property with a qualified engineer
The false perception that the buyer can identify any defects in the property can be very expensive in the future. Some defects are not visible and can only be detected by specific equipment.
Never be in a hurry
Over time we were able to identify the profile of the seller who is in bad faith. They are usually in a hurry to close the deal, just to disappear.
The acquisition of such a precious asset cannot be done at a fast pace. Perform all activities calmly and carefully. Good opportunities appear at all times, so do not believe that the chosen property is unique.
Search professional records
We have already witnessed many cases in which the person present themselves as lawyers and go through the entire property purchase procedure. When a defect in the property is discovered, the alleged lawyers disappear.
Get confirmation of your advisor’s professional record. Much of the information is available on the internet itself.
Speaking of the internet, it costs nothing to Google the name of your advisor.
One of the biggest difficulties resulting from the purchase of property remotely is the trouble for the buyers to search, on their own account, the property records.
Properties without registration, with an expired permit, without the approval of the fire department, among other cases, cannot be inhabited.
Debts associated with the property
Another situation that happens frequently is the acquisition of real estate with liabilities, that is, debts linked to the property.
In this sense, we have overdue electricity, gas, and condominium bills. Who do you think the companies will charge these debts from?
Other situations that we can check are the registration of mortgages and real estate financing linked to the asset.
Certainly, there are so many other precautions that the diligent buyer must take. However, the observance of the mentioned activities can avoid a series of inconveniences associated with the purchase of the property.
We could see in this guide, through a brief historical analysis, how the real estate market in Portugal has been performing over time.
We also analyzed the property acquisition procedure, in addition to the costs and necessary steps to avoid being deceived during the property purchase procedure. Unfortunately, there are many malicious people in this business.
We hope you enjoyed this guide and feel more prepared to invest in the real estate market in Portugal.
If you are interested in purchasing a property for applying for a Golden Visa, we also recommend the reading of our Complete Guide to Golden Visa in Portugal.
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