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How to buy a Property in Portugal

Buying property in Portugal is more popular than ever. From our stable economy, favorable tax regime, growing tourism industry, amazing weather and high quality of life, Portugal offers people from around the world numerous incentives to invest and live in the country. So whether you are an EU or non-EU foreigner, buying property in Portugal is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of these benefits and enjoy a charming way of life. 

Buying an apartment or house in Portugal as a foreigner can initially seem like a stressful process, but with our thorough guide and our help, you’ll have no problem! 

Is Portugal the right choice for me?

Both EU and non-EU foreigners are welcome to invest in Portuguese real estate. In fact, there are no restrictions on foreign investments, and the country makes buying property in Portugal as a foreigner easy by providing a transparent and straightforward process. If you’re thinking about investing in real estate in Portugal, here are a few reasons that may help you take the leap:

  • Stable Economy: Portugal’s economy is very stable, and it has recovered well from the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Favorable Taxes: The country offers investors fair taxes, including a reduced corporate tax rate and tax exemptions for certain investments.
  • Growing Tourism Industry: With over 30 million tourists visiting the country each year, Portugal is a top travel destination. This creates opportunities to invest in the tourism industry, including in hotel and rental property developments.
  • High Quality of Life: Portugal’s cost of living, relaxed lifestyle, landscape diversity and good food are significant benefits for many foreigners. 

Real estate in Portugal 2024: How’s it looking

2024 is a good time to invest in the Portuguese real estate market. It has been steadily growing for years, much like the rest of Europe. This reflects on the pricing of houses all over the country, but especially in the bigger cities. Due to the rising housing prices (plus inflation and lack of new construction), house sales in Portugal fell over the course of 2023 to the lowest level in seven years. In the first trimester of 2024, this trend slowed down the pace of growth in the cost of housing in the country. During this time period, houses for sale in Portugal were only 1.9% more expensive than in the last 3 months of 2023. When compared to the beginning of 2023, house prices have risen 6.4%. The average national purchase price right now is 2,160€/m2 but, of course, the conversation is different when it comes to the most sought-after regions, like Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, which have also witnessed a decrease in the number of houses for sale.

What are the cheapest areas in Portugal?

As a general rule, any interior region is less expensive than the coast. In April of 2024, the cheapest capital districts were Guarda, Portalegre, Castelo Branco, Beja and Bragança, while the most expensive are Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Funchal (Madeira island).

Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl, CEO
Make your house purchase in Portugal easy and stress-free
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house prices portugal 2024
House prices in Portugal (April 2024). Source: idealista

How can I choose a location in Portugal?

A tour of Portugal is, of course, recommended. This is the only way to know which Portuguese city or town really speaks to your heart. But these are some general headlights:

  • Algarve (Faro district): for the retirees looking for sunny skies, great weather and warm beaches or those looking to buy a vacation house;
  • Lisbon: for the big city people and the culture lovers;
  • Porto: also for the city people, just on a smaller scale;
  • Setúbal: big city in close proximity to Lisbon;
  • Aveiro, Coimbra, Braga, Beja, Vila Real: smaller cities perfect for those searching for community spirit with all amenities close by. All of these are also very popular among university students.
  • Guarda, Portalegre, Castelo Branco, Viseu: the true interior of the country. These districts are much cheaper with a lot of old houses to renovate. Also great for the winter lovers, since it frequently snows here.
  • Santarém: also in the interior, but more populated and warmer;
  • Viana do Castelo, Bragança: located right in the North of Portugal, these districts provide cheaper prices and close proximity to Spain. They are also very traditional, you’re sure to find community here;
  • Leiria: Perfect for those looking for a beach house for cheaper, since this district is located right on the coast. (Be aware: the water will be a little cold!).
How should I invest in real estate in Portugal and where?

This depends on many factors but the main one is definitely budget. These are some profitable options:

Investing in tourism accommodation

Tourism overall plays an important role in the Portuguese economy. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Portugal is the 5th country with the highest contribution from tourism to GDP and numbers are expected to rise in the next decade. This means that investing in short-term accommodation is always a rather safe option. You can do this via hotel conglomerates, resorts or buying a house in order to insert it into Alojamento Local.

The most profitable regions are, of course, those where tourism is more prevalent – the Algarve, Lisbon, Porto, Madeira, Azores and the overall coast. As previously mentioned, these are also the most expensive areas in the country. If you have the money, definitely go for it. If not, you can apply the same business practice to cheaper, smaller cities that are still booming with tourism: Aveiro, Coimbra and Nazaré are some good options.

You can also choose to invest in more niche – yet still profitable – areas, like rural tourism. This is when you buy a (usually) traditional property and sell people the idea of peace and quiet, away from the busy life of the city – this is something a lot of people search for. Areas near rivers, lakes and nature are perfect for this: Gerês, Alqueva and Amarante are some examples.

Of course, there is also always the classical option: long-term renting out your property. These are some areas where the rental yield percentage is higher:

AreaRental yield %
Lisbon Metropolitan Area6%
Porto Metropolitan Area6.7%
Silver Coast6.1 to 5.3%
Algarve5.6%
Cascais5.6%
Sintra6.3%

Buying vs building vs renovating in Portugal

There are many benefits to all these options and, at the end of the day, it all comes down to your personal wishes. Buying a property that’s already built is, of course, easier, since the structure is there and you only need to apply your little tweaks to it.

Building new is a more complicated process: you need to search for an available plot of land, confirm with the local government (‘Câmara Municipal’) if it is okay to build in, hire an architect and civil engineers to plan your project and then get it approved by the local municipality again – this can take months. After that, there are obviously the typical issues with construction – delays, lack of materials, etc. That’s why you must be very careful when signing the contract and researching who/which companies to hire. But the pros are clear: building your dream house just the way you want, everything adjusted to your taste. This option makes more sense for people looking to move to Portugal forever.

Another very popular option – especially nowadays – is renovating an old, traditional house in the more rural areas of Portugal. This phenomenon is particularly prevalent on Youtube, where many families document their renovating adventure to growing audiences living vicariously through them. This is an amazing option if you’re into history, tradition, peace and a good old passion project and looking to move to Portugal long-term or to have a vacation house here.

The process of buying a house in Portugal

Seek assistance from a professional buyer’s agent / broker in Portugal

Navigating the purchase of a house in Portugal is always a little challenging, even for locals – who usually also rely on real estate agents. As a foreigner, you should definitely let a buyer’s agent take care of your situation. At Pearls of Portugal, we tend to each client in a highly personalised manner, carefully analysing your wants and needs. For example, if you also plan to relocate to Portugal, we advise you regarding your visa options and put you in contact with our trusted lawyer partners, plus we get you your NIF (Portuguese Tax Number) and bank account in Portugal. With a specialized real estate partner like Pearls of Portugal, your purchase process is sure to go smoothly – from getting the necessary documents, viewings, negotiations and finally, the contracts. Let’s look into every step:

Getting your documents together

NIF: A NIF is your personal tax number in Portugal. Since it is absolutely necessary for pretty much everything, you must take care of getting it right away. It costs around 15€, and you don’t need to be a resident to get one. You can also get the NIF through Online services which costs around 120€. You can obtain it by going to the local tax department (Finanças), through your lawyer, or a Portuguese tax accountant. It’s much easier if you appoint a fiscal representative who will receive all correspondence from the tax office on your behalf. At Pearls of Portugal, we quickly arrange this for you.

Portuguese bank account: This makes it much easier to transfer money from your home country, with no need to pay extravagant fees. You can consult our Portuguese banks guide for advice on which bank makes the most sense for you.

Getting a Mortgage in Portugal as a Foreigner

In Portugal, mortgage lending is primarily regulated by the Banco de Portugal, the central bank of Portugal. Foreign nationals are required to demonstrate proof of residency, usually in the form of a valid visa or residency permit. Additionally, banks may require that you have a good credit history and score and provide documentation to prove your financial stability.

Keep in mind that Portuguese banks don’t usually offer mortgages that cover more than 70% of the value of a property. That means you’ll need to provide your own capital of at least 20%–30% of the total property value. This deposit also demonstrates your financial stability and commitment to the loan.

In terms of language, it would be helpful if you spoke Portuguese, but many banks also offer their services in English. Of course, mortgages here are in euros, and if your investment property in Portugal is a second or holiday home while you remain a resident in your home country, then your income may be in a different currency. This could work in your favor depending on the currency markets. Most mortgages in Portugal track the eurozone’s Euribor and offer the Euro Interbank Offered Rate. It’s not uncommon for banks to offer their mortgages at a set margin above Euribor. Fixed-rate mortgages aren’t very popular in Portugal, but you should definitely look into the recent fluctuation of interest rates before you make a decision

Taking care of the potential mortgage makes sense before starting the actual house hunting. In Portugal you have to pay back your mortgage within the agreed time period. This means the bank will calculate how much you have to pay each month and how much variable income you have to determine if you have enough income for a credit and how much the credit can be.

Viewings

After you decide what type of property you want and in what city or general area, the buyer’s agent assigned to your case will start sending you properties that meet your criteria. After you choose your favorites, your agent will embark on the viewing journey with you. Here’s some general advice for when you’re visiting the properties:

  • Take your time: Don’t feel pressured to make quick decisions, especially during your first viewing. Take all the time you need to view several properties and compare them to guarantee you make the best investment decision.
  • Take detailed notes: You can also give each property a rating based on your first impression, making comparing and ranking the properties easier once you finish your viewings.
  • Inspect the property thoroughly: Pay attention to the condition, such as walls, ceilings, and floors, and look for any signs of dampness or structural damage. Once you have your search down to one or two properties, do a walk-through with a professional who can spot potential issues.
  • Take a second viewing: If you like a property, view it a second time with a trusted friend or family member. They will give you a fresh perspective and help you make the best investment decision.

During the viewing phase, you will have access to a set of information which includes:

  • Construction Year
  • Number of bedrooms/ bathrooms
  • Built area and area of the plot
  • Price per sqm
  • Number of days on the market
  • Price Development
  • Characteristics (pool, garage, central heating, etc.)

CPCV (Contrato Promessa Compra e Venda) – Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale

The CPCV, while not mandatory, is very common for the purchase of a property in Portugal. The preliminary contract is legally valid even without the participation of a notary. When you sign it, it’s common to pay a deposit of about 10% of the total amount. Already in the preliminary contract, the seller must provide the energy certificate and the land register entry of the property. Since January of 2024, the Habitation License (‘Licença de Utilização’) is no longer needed when signing the CPCV. However, you should still ask for it, as the buyer. We look into that below.

The CPCV usually contains a time clause that obliges the buyer to conclude the notarized purchase agreement within a time limit. Normally, the deadline for agreeing the notary appointment is 2-3 months. However, this period is negotiable and does not have to be fully exhausted. Important clauses or conditions for the purchase are also included in the preliminary contract.

The buyer is liable with his down payment of approx. 10% of the purchase price if he withdraws from the purchase without justification. Sellers are legally obligated to repay the prospective buyer twice the down payment (i.e. the down payment plus the same amount as a contractual penalty) if the preliminary contract is not fulfilled. In the preliminary contract, the seller must also specify or list the existing tenants.

While not mandatory, the CPCV is highly recommendable, especially if there are documents missing from the seller’s side or you need a bank credit for the purchase, for example. Be aware: the CPCV is the official reservation of a property in Portugal and is regulated by law. There are other reservation contracts that are issued by real estate agencies but these contracts are not recommended, since they are not legally official. You shouldn’t sign them. 

Signing the deed (Escritura)

The subsequent purchase contract requires a notarial form, drafted by a lawyer or notary. In contrast to other countries, the buyer’s customary registration in the land register is not required for the actual change of ownership. However, the registration must be made by a lawyer or notary no later than two months after the purchase. The registration costs about 250€. It is important to know that the property is transferred legally to the buyer when the contract is signed. This transfer does not depend on the registration in the buyer’s name. This is why you have to pay with a Portuguese bank check as a buyer which is a form of payment which can not bounce.

Setting up utilities and insurance

After the property is officially yours, you must set up the various needed utilities in your name, if you plan on living there – water, electricity, gas and internet. If you’re planning on short-term renting it, then this is also your responsibility, whereas when you rent out your property, you can choose to let the tenant take care of this. Either way, Pearls of Portugal is here to help you set up any utilities you need – same with any other insurance you might be thinking about getting.

Should I get a house inspection in Portugal?

A house inspection is not mandatory in Portugal for a real estate sale. However, if you’re buying a property secondhand – the most common practice – then you should definitely get a house inspection by an expert in order to find out if there are any major faults in the property before signing the CPCV or deed. Our house inspection guide can help you understand the importance of this matter in a better way.

What documents are needed when purchasing a property in Portugal?

  • Identity card or passport
  • Proof of residence
  • NIF
  • CPCV, if it was signed
  • Caderneta Predial (registration with the tax office)
  • Certidão Permanente de Registo Predial (land registry)
  • Licença de Habitação (Housing License): recommended but not mandatory anymore since January 2024. This document is issued by the city council – it confirms that a property has undergone an inspection and meets all legal requirements for housing.
  • Certificado Energético (Energy Certificate): All properties in Portugal must have a valid energy certificate (usually valid for 10 years). This certificate is issued by the Energy Agency (ADENE) and is provided by the seller.
  • Escritura (Notarial deed of sale). This document proves the legal ownership of the property and is given to the buyer by the seller. Be sure to have the title deed checked by a lawyer to ensure that the property has a clear title.
  • Floor plans: These are the floor plans that are available to the architect or construction company. In most cases they can also be obtained from the town hall.
  • Condominium balance report: From April 2022, all apartments must provide confirmation that their property taxes and fees have been paid to the building condominium;
  • Ficha Técnica da Habitação (FTH) – Technical plans of the property.
Buying without Licença de Utilização (Habitation License)?

The simplification of urban planning licenses, a law passed in January of 2024, has “simplified” the formalities related to buying and selling houses. Specifically, it’s no longer mandatory to present the ‘Ficha Técnica da Habitação’ (FTH) and the ‘Licença de Utilização’ (Habitation License) when signing the CPCV.

This is an advantageous measure in the way that it allows for more properties to go on the real estate market and it simplifies the purchase process in a way, since it’s two less documents that you have to wait on and pay for, making the buy overall a little cheaper, also. However, as the buyer, you should always still demand that these documents be presented to you. It’s in your best interest to ensure that everything is right with the property you’re purchasing and both of these documents can confirm that. Buying without Licença de Utilização is only opening the door to future problems – it’s definitely not worth it, especially as a foreigner. As the most experienced buyer’s agent in Portugal, we do not recommend this.

buying a house in portugal documents
Documents you need when buying a house in Portugal

What Taxes Have to Be Paid When Buying a Property in Portugal?

Nobody likes dealing with taxes, but thankfully, the tax system in Portugal is straightforward and user-friendly. Here’s what you need to know:

IMT (Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis): Property Transfer Tax

This is a tax levied on the property transfer and is calculated based on the property’s purchase price. IMT has a sliding scale from 0%–8%, depending on whether the property is a holiday or investment home or your primary tax residence in Portugal. For both, the purchase tax is calculated by purchase value, with a flat rate of 6.5% for land and building. For real estate under 97,064€, there is no transfer tax. The purchase tax must be paid during the deed, and your lawyers will assist you with the application and payment process.

Imposto de Selo (Stamp Duty)

Stamp Duty, or Imposto de Selo, is a tax on real estate transactions that affects property buyers and must be paid during the deed. It is applied to all real estate-related documents, such as deeds, contracts, and mortgages, and is paid by the buyer at a fixed rate of 0.8% of the property’s officially registered fiscal value.

IMI (Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis): Rates or Council Taxes

Every year, Portuguese property owners have to pay council taxes (IMI) based on the rateable value of their property. This value is set by the local revenue office and is typically lower than the purchase value. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a foreigner or Portuguese, the tax rate applies equally. The rate of the IMI tax can range from 0.3% – 0.45% depending on the assessed value of the property and can be paid in 2 or 3 instalments. The IMI is paid 100% by the person that is the official owner of a property in Portugal on the 31st of December of the respective year.

Other specific costs associated with buying a house in Portugal

  • Legal Fees: Legal fees typically range from 2%–3% of the purchase price. They cover drafting the purchase contract, conducting due diligence on the property, and registering the property with Portuguese authorities;
  • Notary Fees: Notary fees in Portugal are usually around 2%–3% of the purchase price and cover the cost of services such as witnessing the signature of the purchase contract and registering the property with the Portuguese authorities;
  • Property Insurance: All properties in Portugal must have property insurance, which usually costs up to 0.5% of the purchase price. This insurance covers the cost of repairs and maintenance, as well as liability for any damage caused to third parties;
  • Real Estate Agent Fees: A real estate agent can save you time and will usually require a commission fee of around 5%–6% of the property’s purchase price;
  • Land Registry Entry: Around 250€;
  • VAT (Value Added Tax): for new constructions.

How to profit from your property in Portugal

As previously mentioned, if you don’t plan on moving to the property you purchased, you can opt to rent it short-term – through Alojamento Local – or long-term renting it to a tenant. Delving into tourism accommodation can be more profitable for you (depending on where your house is located), but there are also more costs and possibly more stress involved – cleaning, maintenance and a lot of different people utilizing the space and conceivably damaging it quicker. If you have the budget, this can be solved through hiring an Alojamento Local management company. Simply contact Pearls of Portugal and we can arrange this for you.

Getting an AL license is a little bit harder nowadays, since there are restrictions in various cities, but this matter is soon to be addressed by the new Portuguese government. However, if your property is located in a popular location, say, Lisbon or Funchal (Madeira’s capital), long-term renting it can be very profitable and possibly less stressful for you in many ways.

If your house is located in a university town (Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Aveiro, Vila Real, …) there’s also the option of individually renting out the rooms to students. This can also be more advantageous than renting the apartment as a whole, but there tend to be more problems.

What Are the Best Places to Buy Property in Portugal?

Portugal hasn’t just become an increasingly popular destination for tourists but also for moving to, retiring in and generally investing. These are some of the places we recommend in Portugal:

Lisbon

Many people view the capital as the best city to live in Portugal. Lisbon may be more expensive than rural areas in terms of buying property, however, it offers a lot in return. It is an amazing place to live in if you’re a city person, due to its ever-thriving cultural and gastronomy scenes. Plus, it is extremely cosmopolitan, with many different people from all over the world living and visiting here every day. Since it is the most expensive city in Portugal, it is also great for investments.

buying a property in portugal
Lisbon. Sent in for our Photo Contest. ©Carolina Mira
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Marinha beach, Algarve. Sent in for our Photo Contest ©Flora Leiria
Algarve

The Algarve region on Portugal’s southern coast is known for its sunny beaches, golf courses, and luxury resorts, making it one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations (particularly in the summer) and one of the best places to live in Portugal as an expat, since the foreign community is huge here. You can opt to buy a holiday home such as a traditional Portuguese villa or a modern apartment in cities like Faro, Albufeira, Tavira and Vilamoura.

Porto

After Lisbon, Porto is the country’s second-largest city. It is less populated and smaller, maintaining more of a local, typical spirit, especially in neighbourhoods a little outside the main touristic areas. It has amazing food, scenery and a growing business scene, making it perfect either for moving to or investing.

buying a property portugal
Porto, Portugal. Sent in for our Photo Contest ©Mara Correia
buying a property in portugal
Torreira, Aveiro. Sent in for our Photo Contest. ©Tatiana Ramos
The Silver Coast

This stretch of coastline is located north of Lisbon and features beautiful beaches and historic, more local, villages, such as Nazaré, Costa Nova, Peniche and Ericeira. The Silver Coast has a strong rental market for holiday rentals and long-term rentals and is also one of the best places for expats to live in Portugal, especially retirees.

Gerês

The Peneda-Gerês National Park, simply known as Gerês, is a protected area in northern Portugal. As Portugal’s oldest and only national park, it boasts stunning natural scenery and amazing, fresh and clean rivers (albeit a little cold), making it a popular destination for nature lovers. If you prefer a property surrounded by mountains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and traditional food, Gerês is the place to live in Portugal.

buying a property in portugal
Gêres
low density douro portugal
Douro Valley. Sent in for our Photo Contest. ©Sara Pereira
Douro Valley

The Douro region, also known as the ‘Enchanted Valley’, offers breathtaking landscapes, adorned with beautiful vineyards and big, charming “quintas” – this is where the grapes for many popular Portuguese wines are produced. If wine is an area that interests you, investing in a manor like this might be a good idea.

Comporta

The Comporta coast is just an hour drive south of Lisbon and part of the Alentejo region. It features small villages along the coastline including its namesake, which was named ‘Portugal’s best secret beach spot’ by CN Traveler in December 2022. The region is full of farms, pine trees, rice fields, sand dunes, and stunning stretches of white sand beaches that are never overcrowded.

comporta

Pearls of Portugal Is Here to Help

Portuguese real estate offers excellent opportunities for investing and living in. If you’re looking to purchase a house in Portugal, we take care of the whole process for you. From answering questions like ‘What is it like to live in Portugal?’ to ‘What is the best place to live in Portugal for expats?’ and ‘How much does it cost to live in Portugal?’, we provide you valuable insights and guide you through each step of the process!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding buying a property in Portugal

Yes, you must identify your marriage status when buying a house in Portugal. It’s part of the essential personal information, according to Portuguese marriage and heritage laws. 

Yes, you can purchase a property alone but not sell the real estate alone in Portugal.

Yes. This is called “Contrato promessa com Eficácia Real” and means that there is a pre registration of the sale. In this case you have to pay the IMT and Imposto Selo when you sign the CPCV. If the sale ends up not happening, you will get back the taxes within 30 days.

Yes. The market is regulated by the IMPIC (Instituto Dos Mercados Públicos, do Imobiliário e da Construção).

No, the selling agent can’t charge the buyer. This is forbidden by law.

No, an offer is only binding when you sign the CPCV or deed.

It depends. If you have a clause in the the CPCV for this case, then no. Otherwise, yes. If your credit hasn’t yet been accepted when you sign the CPCV, make sure to put this clause in the contract.

House purchases must be made through a Portuguese bank check (cheque bancário).

During the deed somebody from the bank will join the meeting. The buyer shall bring two bank checks – one for the bank and another with the rest of the amount for the seller (in case the sale price is higher than the mortgage). The buyer then gives the bank check to the bank employee and they give you a certificate proving that the mortgage was paid.

Yes. However, crypto currencies are not considered official means of payments – it must be done through check. 

Real estate agents in Portugal have to be registered at the IMPIC and need to have an AMI licence number. This licence must be renewed each year and details can be checked online on the IMPIC website.

Everything you need to know
Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl, CEO
Make your house purchase in Portugal easy and stress-free
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