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What you see isn’t always what you get (when you buy a property in Portugal)

This saying applies commonly in Portugal. Especially when you purchase property in a rural area. Typically when you want to buy a property, you travel to Portugal, view several places, find the right one, fall in love with it, and you immediately begin to imagine what you could do to make it just like the place you have dreamed about for years.

You begin to negotiate the price, you reach an agreement, shake hands and that’s it!

Well, not quite.

Land can be wrongfully declared, measurements could be wrong, in some cases, the land is not even legally in the seller’s name! You might be told you can build on the land you buy and later find out that restrictions are in place meaning you can’t. Old buildings can present the same issues, you see a beautiful barn or a stone house, imagine how you can transform it, but later could find it is un-registered or even illegal, factors will dictate whether you can extend it, rebuild and could even say can’t do anything with it at all. These mistakes can be very genuine, a property could be advertised with an agent but the agent or owner might not even realise that there are restrictions or issues.

This all sounds very dramatic, but you do not need to worry if you have the correct legal advice that can help you unveil the hidden problems that buying a property can lead too.

Seeking legal advice will help avoid challenges that you might face. Many times clients come to me to do a promissory contract and we find out that there is a lot to be done for the purchase to be concluded.

Issues should go into a promissory contract, and correct legal help means we can tailor the contract to suit your specific situation. (This is why I say there is no “one fit promissory contract” to suit all). Each property sale will have specific issues, that can be negotiated with the seller in order to overcome and solve, and all of these conditions should go into a promissory. An area or land measurement might need to be corrected, buildings might need to be registered.

If you don’t ensure a tailored promissory contract is in place, you might have a problem later down the line.

Think of a promissory contract like your car insurance: You don’t expect to have a car accident, and you hope not to need it, but should it be needed you are grateful that it is in place.

So, what do you prefer?: Have no insurance, risk paying for damages that might come along later, or be safe and secure about everything?

Just give it a thought.

Nuno Almeida

Disclaimer: The opinion referred to in this post is generic and cannot be considered as legal advice, nor binds the author to any responsibility if anyone takes action upon it. If you have any legal doubts our questions, always contact a lawyer to analyze your case, and give you legal advice to your specific situation.

4 thoughts on “What you see isn’t always what you get (when you buy a property in Portugal)

  1. How is e promissory contract drawn up…. do the solicitors of both the seller and buyer get together to agree what’s stated and the obligations in the promissory contract. Are both solicitors needed to be witnesses when the contract is signed.

    1. Hello! You would just need one to make the agreement, as long as you and buyer both are happy with the agreement, it is a legal document which you both enter into but does not need a lawyer to witness. Best wishes the pure portugal team

  2. It isn’t really that different in the UK, where I’ve bought a number of properties down the years. I get sent the contract and the title deeds and its up to ME to check that the deeds are correct – neither the solicitor nor the surveyor can do that: the solicitor hasn’t seen the property, the surveyor hasn’t seen the deeds. I’ve twice had horrendous delays in buying because the deeds were wrong and nobody would believe me. First time, the brewery next door had gifted a strip of land to the chap selling to me, they didn’t bother with legal documents (why should they – it was up to him really) because they thought it would be a side-passage – it wasn’t, he built on it. So he didn’t actually own the land under half his kitchen and spare bedroom. It got sorted in the end, but delayed my purchase by months. The second one, the entire garden and the utility room had been left as a sort of legal no-man’s land between the house and the house next door when the old paper deeds were transferred into digital format at the land registry – the seller didn’t believe me, and kept referring to the old paper deeds as evidence that everything was correct – eventually they got someone out from the land registry, who agreed with me. I’d had to get next door’s deeds in order to prove it, and they still didn’t believe me, but at least it got them to get the land registry out.

    Getting property stuff done right matters – wherever you are!

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