Updated: February 9, 2024

 

Portugal has fast become one of the trendiest places to move to or buy property. Investors from the world over now firmly have their sights set on this stunning country perched on the Iberian Peninsula. However, a question on many people’s minds when considering buying a house abroad is: How long will the process take? So, without further ado, we are going to break down the ins and outs of this question How Long Does it Take to Buy a House in Portugal? In addition, we’ll arm you with some factors that can slow down or speed up the process, making your property purchasing journey in Portugal as hassle-free – and fast – as possible.

How long does it take to buy a house in Portugal?

It will usually take around 1-4 months to buy property in Portugal. However, it can take longer than this and can even be quicker in some cases. This takes into account comprehensive due diligence, obtaining documents, and other requirements.

Unless the parties want the house to be sold at a specific later date, or in certain problematic cases, then it should not take more than this time. If the property is under construction, then this can cause it to take more time.

 

Timeline to Buying Property in Portugal

Lisbon-real-estate-png The timeline for buying a house in Portugal depends on many variables, many of which may be outside of your control. With this in mind, the following steps can be used as a basic guideline for you. We will go into more detail on the legal aspects later in the article.

  • Find the perfect property in Portugal
  • Negotiation and agreement on the final price
  • Reservation Agreement
  • Promissory Contract
  • Final Deed Signing

From issues with the seller’s documents to negotiations dragging, there are several factors that can affect the timeline when it comes to buying a house. Two common factors are shown below in more detail.

If it is a straightforward or more complicated purchase

If everything is in order with the seller and you are the sole buyer, then the process should be a simple one. However, if you are a joint investor or if there are complications with the seller, then this can stall the process.

Choosing the right real estate company and lawyer

Working with a real estate company and an experienced lawyer that you trust is essential to speeding up the property purchasing process. A good real estate professional will be able to meet deadlines and liaise with the seller to propel the process forward, for example. Meanwhile, an experienced lawyer will prove to be effective and efficient in how they carry out due diligence on both the seller and the property.

 

In this section, we’ll delve into the legal processes of buying property in Portugal.

The legal process and paperwork involved

When it comes to purchasing property in Portugal, we strongly recommend working with a Portuguese real estate lawyer that can confirm the accuracy of the legal documents that you are looking to buy, especially if you do not speak Portuguese. They will check both the seller themselves and the property to ensure that everything is correct.

Overview of legal steps in Portugal

Below are the legal steps that you should follow when purchasing property in Portugal.

Make sure to have all necessary documents to analyse and that they are all correct

You’ll want to ensure you have all the necessary documents ready. This will include having your document of identification (passport) and your NIF number (Portuguese Tax Identification Number). You can get your NIF number at your local tax office. You can also get your Portuguese NIF number and open a bank account online online before coming to Portugal. Also, as mentioned, your lawyer will be able to check all the legal documents for the sale, plus conduct a background check on the seller to make sure that everything is in order.

Make an offer and proceed with the reservation process

When you have conducted due diligence on the seller and the property, you can then proceed with the Reservation Agreement, which ensures that the property is off-market while you make your final decision.

Usually, a reservation fee of between €6,000 and €10,000 will need to be paid at this point, which can be completely refunded should you decide not to proceed with the purchase. Note that the refundability of the reservation fee and the terms of the refund will need to be clearly stated in the Reservation Agreement. As soon as you make the decision to purchase the property, you can then move forward to the Promissory Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Start with the promissory contract and/or the deed of purchase and sale

Your lawyer will review the documents and draw up the Promissory Contract (Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda). This contract identifies the owners and buyers and the timeline for completion of the sale, which is usually within six months. This is then reviewed by the seller and his lawyer before being signed in front of a Notary, while the deposit (usually around 10 percent) is also paid.

The final step is when the Final Deed (Escritura) is signed, and the remaining property amount is paid to the seller. The property is then registered in the name of the new owner with the Land Registry, and the transaction is complete.

Beware of the transaction costs and taxes

Before making any property purchase, you’ll want to be aware of the transaction costs and taxes that you will need to pay, either at the time of purchase or on an annual basis.

Taxes that you will need to pay during the property process are property purchase tax (IMT) (also known as the property transfer tax) and Stamp Duty, while you will need to pay Municipal Property Tax (IMI) on an annual basis, plus Additional to IMI (AIMI), if the property is worth more than €600,000.

You can read more about property tax in Portugal in our article: Property Taxes in Portugal 2023: An Overview.

We also recommend opening a Portuguese bank account to save you money, as exchange rates can fluctuate considerably.

Make sure to proceed with the registry of the property in your name

When the property is yours, you will want to request a permanent certificate of land registry. This certificate proves who the owner of the property is and is constantly updated and available for consultation.

 

What are the most common delays and challenges to the house buying process?

Some of the most common delays and challenges to the process of buying property in Portugal are listed below.

Ensure you have your finances in order

You’ll want to have a good idea of how you are going to fund your property purchase before you begin the process. There are several banks in Portugal that offer mortgages in Portugal. Determine which one is best for you before you get started.

Negotiations and counter-offers

As we’ve mentioned, this stage of the process can take some time. Working with real estate professionals that are well experienced in negotiating will speed up the process.

Potential complications or issues during due diligence

One of the most common issues during due diligence is the discovery of incomplete or inaccurate information provided by the seller. This could include missing documentation, undisclosed liabilities, or misrepresented financial data. It’s crucial for the buyer to thoroughly verify all information presented and conduct independent investigations to avoid surprises later on.

Issues with the property

Existing external and internal issues with the property can significantly slow down the process. These will come to light when doing your due diligence or working with a surveyor.

Verifying title deed and ownership

Your lawyer will be able to ensure that the seller is the title deed owner and that they are legally able to sell to you. If there are any problems here, this can take some time to fix.

Unforeseen circumstances

There will always be unforeseen circumstances outside your control that can delay the house-buying process. All you can do is be as prepared as possible, and ensure that, from your side, everything is good to go.

 

Strategies for Managing and Overcoming Challenges

While unforeseen circumstances can always crop up, below are some strategies to manage and overcome challenges to save you time when buying property in Portugal.

Ensure you understand the complexities of the real estate market in Portugal

Knowledge is power, so they say – and knowledge of the property market can also significantly speed up the process. Gain insight into the intricacies of the Portuguese real estate market, including regulations and procedures, to navigate potential delays effectively during the buying process.

Work with experienced professionals in the field

Engage with experienced real estate professionals, lawyers, and surveyors who possess in-depth knowledge of the market, assisting in anticipating and resolving delays for a smoother transaction.

 

Tips for Expediting the House-Buying Process

Some top tips for ensuring that the house-buying process runs as smoothly as possible, so that you can move into your new home as quickly as possible are shown below

  • Being proactive and organized
  • Preparing necessary documents in advance
  • Promptly responding to requests and inquiries
  • Conducting thorough due diligence with the assistance of an experienced real estate lawyer
  • Maintaining open and clear communication with all parties involved

Goldcrest: Who We Are and How We Can Help

Goldcrest is a buyer’s agent that is based in Lisbon. We provide expert, impartial advice on real estate investments and how to buy property in Portugal. From scouting out the perfect property through to property acquisition, we have you covered throughout the process.

If you are looking to purchase property in Portugal, don’t hesitate to get in touch. ur team of skilled experts is available to solve all your real estate doubts, offering insightful expertise and strategic advice.

 

The following articles may also be of interest to you:

Note that if you are looking to move to Portugal, you will need to sure you have a valid residence permit to live in the country. You can find out more about your options in this article: How to Get Portuguese Residency, which includes residency routes, including the Portugal Golden Visa and the D7 Visa. After five years of legal residence in Portugal, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship, provided you meet all the requirements under Portuguese Nationality Law.

 

Frequently Asked Questions and How Long It Takes to Buy a House in Portugal

How long does the process of buying a house in Portugal typically take?

It will usually take around 1-4 months to buy a house in Portugal. However, it can take longer than this, and can even be quicker in some cases. 1-4 months takes into account comprehensive due diligence, obtaining documents, and other requirements.

Factors like legal complexities, financing arrangements and seller cooperation can impact the timeline of buying a house in Portugal. Problems with due diligence and long negotiation talks can also push back the sale. You will want to know about mortgages and mortgage rates before beginning the buying process.

The legal process and paperwork completion in Portugal typically take around one to two months, depending on the residential property and legalities surrounding the property. Note that it can take much longer than this in certain situations.

Yes, working with a real estate agent and experienced lawyers can expedite the process by providing expertise, navigating legalities, and streamlining transactions. You should also find that additional costs, such as real estate agent or legal fees, are not so expensive and can definitely save you money in the long run while making the buying process much easier.

Yes, challenges like title disputes, mortgage approval delays, and bureaucratic procedures can prolong the house-buying process in Portugal.

To speed up the process, be prepared with necessary documents, secure financing in advance, stay informed, and work with experienced professionals.

Yes, it’s possible to buy a property in Portugal through a proxy or attorney by granting them a Power of Attorney for the transaction.

Extra costs to consider when buying a property in Portugal include property taxes, Stamp Duty, Notary fees, legal fees, and land registration fees. Also, there will be mortgage payments to consider if you are taking out a mortgage to cover some of the costs of the property, and if you are a tax resident, you will need to pay taxes in Portugal. The NHR program is an attractive incentive for expats, where they can receive significant tax benefits for up to ten years.