How important is it to use a Buyer's Agent when looking at property? – Property & Real Estate – Expats Portugal Community Forum
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How important is it to use a Buyer's Agent when looking at property?


Posts: 6
Premium Member
Topic starter
(@marilgen)
Active Member
Joined: 5 months ago

Hi everyone, 

I'm starting to explore different areas around Portugal to buy property before I move, which I hope to be in a year. (I'm still in US and haven't applied for a visa yet.) and will be there for a couple of weeks. While traveling around, I'd like to see some properties that I've had my eye on. I've reached out to some realtors to set up appointments. Some have responded, some have not. Is it "safe" to do it on my own, without using a Buyer's Agent, or is this something I should set up beforehand and he/she go with me to see any properties? I've set up my first appointment directly with the Seller's agent for this coming Friday, but not sure if I should be wary of doing this on my own. (I know that it has to get inspected/ surveyed before buying, but was just curious.)

I remember being told once that in the US you must always go through a buyer's agent from the beginning, or else you can't utilize them for that purchase of that property. 

(I'm wondering if it makes sense to just go with a seller to see different properties in that area without a buyers agent with me.)

Thanks in advance!

Maria

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Posts: 214
Ask our Expat Consultant
(@thomasribatejo)
Estimable Member
Joined: 5 years ago

In terms of agents, you cannot (realistically/honestly) "switch agents" once you begin looking at a given property.  This doesn't just apply to "buyers' agents" (which are not standard in Portugal - but great ones exist for the inbound buyer, for sure) but also to sellers' agents, where more than one may be listing a property.  If a sellers' agent believes they are also acting for you as potential buyer, they may actively resent you bringing in a buyers' agent after they've already begun helping you.

More generally, we find the effect on the seller's agent of using a buyers' agent can be hard to predict.  In some cases, it gives them the "kick up the backside" to do a better job; in others, it disincentivises due to the sharing of commission.

The value in using (or not) a buyers' agent is for you to decide.  They add significant value to many buyers, perhaps especially where the buyer doesn't know Portugal/the area well, or cannot personally visit the properties; and many can help way beyond the transaction, with wider support to your move/relocation.  Where a buyer can personally visit, may not need other support, and will use a lawyer, a surveyor/inspector*, etc, one could argue this is less essential, perhaps where you have specific properties in mind and/or are already talking to a good sellers' agent.

 

 

*These are my observations as someone with no vested interest on the real estate agency side.  I do declare an interest in the comment re surveyor/inspector, but you've already indicated this is on your radar, so I am not preaching about that!

 

Thomas

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Posts: 15
 Vera
Community Member
(@crad)
Active Member
Joined: 4 months ago

It is essential to have a local adviser if you are buying a property and not permanently in Portugal. Knowing locations and the market is important. It lets you know a good asking price for a specific property. I often feel sellers in Portugal just ask for what they want, which means exceptionally overpriced or underpriced properties. Secondly, you should understand the local council's urbanisation plans; maybe new buildings will block your view in a few years or maybe you'll be in a protected area.

When I bought my house before moving from the UK, even though I'm an architect and my wife is Portuguese, I earned that local knowledge is necessary. I also learned taxation is more complicated for non-residents.

I'll be happy to talk if you need more help,

Daniyal

 

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Posts: 70
Premium Member
(@sunil)
Trusted Member
Joined: 9 months ago

We found great value in working with MOL Portugal as our buyer's agent -- the  property market operates quite differently in PT than we are used to (we've bought and sold properties in the U.S.) so their local knowledge was enormously useful to us.  Additionally, their business model appealed to us and seemed very fair.

molportugal.com

Hope that helps to answer some of your questions!

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3 Replies
Premium Plus member
(@jonesdn2020)
Joined: 1 year ago

Reputable Member
Posts: 293

@sunil Can you share your experience with MOL via DM with us? We are pretty skilled but would just like someone to handle the contracts and validity of the sellers docs. We are seeing buyers agents charging way more then we are comfortable with.

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Premium Member
(@sunil)
Joined: 9 months ago

Trusted Member
Posts: 70

@jonesdn2020 sure, happy to chat! But we’re crazy-busy packing up and taking care of last minute business in TX this week — we’ll be landing in Lisbon a week from Weds! Maybe we can discuss over coffee or a glass of wine rather than DM? 😁

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Premium Plus member
(@jonesdn2020)
Joined: 1 year ago

Reputable Member
Posts: 293

@sunil Perfect! Look forward to it.

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Posts: 11
Community Member
(@derrymore)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago

Hi Maria Genetti.

I imagine you wouldn't consider buying a car without taking it for a test drive, testing the brakes and generally looking under the bonnet and kicking the tyres.  If I found one of the head lights wasn't working, I'd assume dangerous negligence on the part of the previous owner and become very cautious as a result.   This would significantly reduce the price I would be willing to consider paying, even though the bulb in question costs only a few euro and takes 5 minutes to install.

I certainly wouldn't consider paying hundreds of thousands of euros for a property without serious research (including walking around, tapping the walls, asking awkward questions, talking with the neighbours, checking with the Camara/council etc). Record all your questions, and the answers you receive.  Bring a camera and photograph the place thoroughly, so you won't be relying on memory later on.  

If you don't feel confident checking the structure, electrics, plumbing, access etc., it would be a better investment of your hard earned money to bring along a suitably qualified person such as an architect or surveyor.   They would be able to give you an idea of the approximate cost of any changes or repairs that need to be carried out.

The buyer's assistant has no responsibility to bring any problems to your attention (or even to do a search for such issues).  On the other hand you could - at least in theory, anyway - give the architect a very hard time if they didn't notice something fundamental that was not obvious to the untrained eye.

Also make sure to choose a reputable lawyer to handle the transaction.  It's not unknown in Portugal that properties change hands over the generations without documentation, especially in rural locations and small towns.  You wouldn't like to discover that you'd paid over your hard earned money to find that the seller was not entitled to sell the property, even if they thought they had the right.  

Good luck

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