Updated: May 31, 2024

 

alentejo real estateWhen considering purchasing property in Portugal, you might wonder: Why is a Portugal real estate lawyer necessary? How can you gauge their expertise? And what are the associated costs?

Understanding the role and importance of a real estate lawyer can simplify the process significantly. Whether you’re buying a chic Lisbon flat, a cozy Porto family home, or a lavish estate on the Silver Coast, navigating international property transactions can be intricate.

A Portuguese property law expert for foreigners will collaborate closely with your real estate agent on all real estate matters and matters relating to legal services, ultimately optimizing your property buying experience. Before you decide on which law firm to work with, it is essential to do thorough research to evaluate their competency.

This article provides insights into the necessity of legal support in real estate dealings and how to utilize it best.

Understanding the Role of a Portugal Real Estate Lawyer

The benefits of real estate acquisitions in Portugal are numerous. Whether your interest lies in residential properties, office spaces, or the tourism sector, engaging a real estate lawyer is pivotal to your success. Let’s explore why securing the assistance of real estate legal services is crucial for foreign investors.

What does a real estate lawyer do?

Real estate lawyers or real estate solicitors specialize in property law. With extensive knowledge of the Portuguese market, they provide legal advice, prepare and review sale agreements with real estate agencies, assist with lease agreements, and ensure the legal compliance of real estate investments with their extensive industry knowledge.

Due diligence

Individuals or entities investing in property, whether local real estate investors or foreign buyers, can depend on a real estate team of lawyers from a reputable and experienced Portuguese law firm to conduct legal, due diligence on their prospective real estate assets.

Local legal expertise

Lawyers not only help manage the legalities of real estate investment funds for investors, but they also liaise with notaries. Notaries are the public officials in Portugal responsible for certifying documents, including real estate transactions, to ensure their legality.

The work of a real estate law firm extends to working with the Portuguese government’s land registry officials, the Conservatória do Registo Predial, where they run checks on the registry to confirm ownership and identify any potential drawbacks on the investment property.

Real estate lawyers also liaise with the Portuguese tax authority on tax-related matters in real estate transactions. The tax authority, Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira, oversees the property taxes and stamp duty on real estate investments.

Legal representation

Last but not least, if foreign buyers are planning construction and renovation projects on any of the investment properties in their real estate portfolios, be it office buildings or other joint ventures, real estate lawyers will be your managing partner in dealing with Portugal’s local Municipalities, Câmaras Municipais, which are responsible for local urban planning, building regulations, and licensing.

How can a real estate lawyer help you?

Purchasing real estate requires attention to detail. There are many reasons to invest in real estate in Portugal, and there are numerous steps in the property-buying process that will require the legal services of a law firm, specifically a residential property lawyer in Portugal. If needed, you can also find legal advice on commercial real estate in Portugal.

From checking that the property has not been illegally built or extended to drawing up contracts, expertise from a reputable law firm will be beneficial when dealing with all the legal parts of investing in property in Portugal. Real estate lawyers can also advise you on factors such as real estate financing, land registry, property taxes and tax implications, sale agreements, and will give you peace of mind to secure property seamlessly and without any legal implications.

Why Work with a Portugal Real Estate Lawyer

Work remotely in PortugalIn short, a law firm’s full service will simplify complex matters for you, ensuring you are aware of the legal factors that you will need to be aware of regarding Portuguese real estate law.

  • A lawyer’s full service, insights, and extensive experience will help with understanding purchase contracts. Real estate related contracts are often laden with complex legal terms detailing the terms and conditions of the sale. With the help of an attorney, you will experience a more straightforward and transparent buying process and be protected from unfavorable terms.
  • Lawyers in Portugal can also assist international investors and international developers make a commercial investment and find spaces like retail parks, office buildings, or shopping centers. They can also help secure real estate investment funds and manage real estate portfolios.
  • A law firm can also assist clients with instances where heirs or clients with joint ownership of real estate acquisitions or real estate portfolios will need horizontal property deeds actioned and help with rental contracts if you are contemplating renting out your property.

Below, we explore a few more in-depth reasons why you should consider working with a law firm in Portugal.

Legal expertise

Real estate dealings come with intricate legal nuances, from understanding property rights to navigating zoning laws.

With Portugal’s distinct property laws, partnering with a lawyer proficient in Portuguese real estate becomes indispensable to safeguard against potential legal missteps and financial penalties.

Due diligence

Acquiring property requires thorough scrutiny to rule out potential legal entanglements, from existing mortgages to outstanding tax dues or ownership disputes. Expert legal practitioners in this field diligently ensure that your real estate investment remains uncompromised.

Navigating the legal processes of real estate investment

A lawyer in Portugal with a strong focus on real estate investment law can give their clients sound legal and financial advice whether they are making a corporate or private investment. A law team works for clients with a strong focus on a successful and compliant sale. Below, we will explore two of the most critical factors lawyers can assist their clients with during the property investment journey:

The Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale

The Promissory Contract, Contrato Promessa de Compra e Venda or CPCV, is a legally binding preliminary agreement between a property buyer and seller in Portugal that you are advised to have in place before the final deed of sale. Having real estate lawyers create the outlines of the sale’s terms and conditions helps protect your interests as the buyer and caters to the seller’s needs.

The Public Deed of Purchase and Sale

Signing the Public Deed of Purchase and Sale, or Escritura, is the conclusive step in property purchases, where ownership is officially transferred from seller to buyer. Foreign investors benefit from the guidance real estate lawyers can provide in navigating this crucial stage, ensuring a smooth and secure transition of ownership.

Conflict resolution

Disagreements can arise in complex real estate transactions over issues like property boundaries or maintenance responsibilities. In such scenarios, a lawyer serves as your informed advocate, adeptly handling negotiations or courtroom representations if needed.

Cultural and local insight

Each country, including Portugal, has unique business practices influenced by its cultural and societal norms. Lawyers provide invaluable insights into these local practices, ensuring effective communication and fostering mutual respect that goes beyond simple real estate matters.

Assistance throughout the process

Leveraging the services of a real estate lawyer can streamline your property acquisition process in Portugal. They can assist you with the legalities throughout your buying journey. Find a real estate lawyer who goes the extra mile to ensure you have everything you need.

Walk you through the steps to buying property in Portugal

A real estate lawyer will ensure you are aware of the key steps in buying property in Portugal and what to look for at each stage, from making sure the contracts are correct to helping you understand the intricacies of real estate acquisitions.

Step 1

     Decide whether you’d like to take out a mortgage to finance your property. 

Step 2

     Find the perfect Portugal property 

Step 3

     Negotiation  

Step 4

     Reservation Agreement 

Step 5

     Promissory Contract (CPCV) 

Step 6

     Sign the Escritura (Final Deed) 

Below is a list of the standard services that a real estate lawyer with experience in the Portuguese legal market provides. Note that this list of real estate matters is not exhaustive, and real estate lawyers may be able to assist with other aspects of the purchase.

  • Oversee the purchasing transaction from start to finish
  • Remote handling of bureaucratic procedures
  • Check whether any outstanding debts are attached to the property
  • Verify who the legal owner(s) is/are and that they have the right to sell the property
  • Assess the construction history of the property
  • Draw up contracts, such as the reservation agreement and lease contracts, if you are considering renting out your property
  • Review the purchase and sale agreement and advise you on its legal consequences and obligations
  • Request necessary legal documents for the property
  • Provide Portuguese real estate legal advice
  • Help you understand the country’s tax and inheritance laws
  • Navigate Portugal’s bureaucratic processes
  • Assist with ensuring you will not face restrictions due to urban planning, environmental factors, or if other residential developments could impact you
  • Ensure that all contracts protect your interests while meeting all legal requirements
  • Facilitate any procedure, as Portugal real estate lawyers have the power to perform certain notary acts (such as powers of attorney, signature acknowledgments, certification of translations, etc.)
  • Assist in ensuring legal compliance with joint ventures amongst private investors

A real estate lawyer is also essential if you are looking to invest in commercial real estate (leisure sectors, office buildings, tourism projects, or construction sectors).

Key Criteria for Selecting the Best Real Estate Lawyers in Portugal

As you can see, a lot goes into the process of making a real estate investment in Portugal. To make the search for a real estate lawyer easier, we’ve created a brief checklist of things to consider when researching real estate lawyers:

Specialization

Law firms have many practice areas, ranging from corporate law to tourism law and construction law. When assessing a law firm, ensure that it has a real estate department or specialized real estate team that works in Portugal real estate law and property sales, whether you are working with a real estate lawyer in Lisbon, Porto, or the Algarve.

Experience with foreigners

Look beyond whether they simply have extensive knowledge and find out whether they have experience working with international investors. Talk with them about the specific legal areas you require assistance with and the documents you will need as an expat regarding your real estate investment. Also, ask them about their legal experience with matters related to maintaining your real estate assets in the future.

Reviews

When browsing the website of a law firm, read any comments and reviews that previous clients have left. Pay special attention to reviews from foreign clients to ensure that they have helped clients in similar situations to you and can provide the legal services you require, in addition to assessing the reputation of the law firm.

Transparent fee structure

Before engaging, it’s essential to understand how a lawyer charges for their services. Whether it’s a flat fee or hourly rate, having clarity on costs can help you budget effectively and avoid unexpected expenses.

Adaptability

Real estate transactions can often present unexpected challenges. It’s beneficial to have a lawyer who is adaptable and can quickly pivot strategies or provide solutions when unforeseen issues arise.

Communication skills

Your real estate lawyer should clearly explain complex legal jargon in layman’s terms, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Portuguese law. Regular updates and open channels of communication ensure you’re always in the loop.

Before clients seek the services and advice of a legal professional, it is essential to ask about the lawyer’s service fees. Having an idea of the cost structure and fees upfront helps in budgeting and understanding the financial commitment associated with their services.

Lawyer’s fees in Portugal vary as they do in any country, and the costs will also vary according to the services you require and the value of the purchase. For instance, if you plan to relocate to Portugal and seek advice or assistance with obtaining residency the services will cost you more.

The cost will be between €2,000 to €5,000 to work with real estate lawyers in Portugal.

Conclusion

As a foreign investor, it is essential to do your due diligence when buying property in Portugal.

In addition to having an independent legal representative or working with a law firm that has a solid reputation, another professional service that you could use is a buyer’s agent. While a traditional real estate company works for the seller, a buyer’s agent works for you, the buyer. Their aim is to find the right property that fulfills your requirements at the right price.

They also provide support during the negotiation and transaction processes and liaise with real estate lawyers and service providers to simplify the real estate process and give you peace of mind.

Here at Goldcrest, our focus is on you, the buyer. As a buyer’s agent, we tailor our services to your needs and interests, providing impartial expert advice. We manage the entire process, from research to sourcing and acquisition, to help you save time, money, and hassle.

Frequently Asked Questions about Real Estate Lawyers in Portugal

Real estate lawyers have many practice areas. A law firm in Portugal can draft and review documents and contracts related to the sale and purchase of a property.

It is not mandatory to work with a Portugal real estate attorney, but an independent attorney or law firm with an in-depth knowledge of Portugal’s real estate market can provide valuable services beneficial when it comes to the legalities of investing in property. Among other services a real estate law firm can assist with the negotiation process, perform due diligence checks on the property, and even draw up contracts for the purchase.

Real estate lawyers or a real estate law firm can provide the following real estate services:

  • Provide Portuguese real estate legal advice
  • Oversee transactions involving real estate
  • Remote handling of bureaucratic procedures for private entities
  • Due diligence
  • Draw up contracts and lease agreements
  • Review the purchase and sale agreement
  • Request necessary legal documents for the property
  • Help you understand the Portuguese market, including the country’s tax and corporate law

It is always recommended to employ the services of a law firm or real estate lawyer when buying or selling property, mainly when doing so in a foreign country.

There are many risks you could encounter during the property buying process without the help of a Portugal real estate attorney. You could fall prey to property scams if you do not have an attorney helping you with due diligence on the property. You could also overlook vital tax and legal implications involved in purchasing property in Portugal.

Look for a Portugal real estate law firm that is reputable, has good credentials, and can provide full service. For example, check if the real estate lawyers are members of Global Law Experts (GLE).

Lawyers’ fees vary considerably in Portugal. Usually, real estate lawyers charge between €2,000 and €5,000.

We highly recommend working with a qualified real estate lawyer who has extensive experience to help you navigate the complex legal and administrative aspects of the transaction. A real estate lawyer can review contracts, conduct due diligence, ensure the property has a clear title, protect your interests throughout the process, and help you manage the legalities of your real estate assets.

Yes, real property law firms can assist with complex real estate transactions and property disputes. The issues they can help with include navigating disputes related to property boundaries or maintenance responsibilities and acting as your representative should you not be in the country.

Yes, however, you will need to ensure the validity of your UK power of attorney in Portugal. The steps to have it acknowledged and approved according to Portuguese regulations involves obtaining an apostille and a stamp from a certified translator and a Notary.

A Portugal real estate attorney or law firm specializing in real estate in Portugal will oversee legal aspects, review contracts, ensure compliance, and provide advice in transactions involving real estate, town planning, joint ventures, and financial entities, and even liaise with the tax department in Portugal.

Consulting real estate lawyers when buying or selling property in Portugal is crucial to ensure the process is hassle-free. They can also assist you in avoiding restrictions due to urban planning or environmental factors, plus ensure that you are registered in the land registry.

Real estate lawyers can review and explain any legal documents related to the property which include sales contracts and title deeds. You should get your property attorney to review the Promissory Contract or Contrato Promessa de Compra e Venda (CPCV) and the Public Deed of Purchase and Sale, Escritura, before signing either of these documents.

A real estate agent connects property sellers with buyers and helps both parties negotiate the real estate transaction. Real estate lawyers help their clients, in this case, the buyer, understand contracts and legal aspects of the purchase and can also assist with other local issues such as zoning issues, avoiding mortgage fraud, and verifying transfer of deeds and titles

Foreigners buying property in Portugal will need to pay the same taxes as Portuguese citizens, which include Property Purchase Tax (IMT), Stamp Duty Tax (Imposto do Selo), Municipal Property Tax, also known as Immovable Property Tax (IMI), and Capital Gains Tax if you decide to sell the property. Real estate lawyers can help you understand the types of taxes that need to be paid and when each needs to be paid, as well as navigate the process.

You can ask your personal or professional contacts in Portugal for referrals with a reliable reputation. Additionally, real estate experts such as Goldcrest will be able to connect you with the best real estate attorneys. You should also ask potential real estate lawyers crucial questions about their qualifications and experience with international clients, assess their fee and service guidelines, and research the law firm’s reviews and testimonials.

Yes, real estate lawyers can help you prepare the necessary documents for your registration with the Portuguese Land Registry.

A property attorney with local knowledge and experience working with foreign clients can help you understand and navigate all legal aspects of the property buying process, from understanding tax regulations to verifying documents related to the purchase.

Yes, when it comes to any complex real estate transactions or property disputes, your property attorney can represent you and act on your behalf.

By doing their due diligence and accessing the Portuguese land registry to verify property ownership and account history.