My experience has been generally:
- Experiencing an attitude of 'Your a foreigner retiring here (I'm not) with lots of money, so I'd prefer to raise the asking price not lower it'..
- Involving close Portuguese friends as then everybody knows their interactions are 'monitored' and not strictly between them and a naive foreigner, plus I'll know more about local pricing so its more straight forward.
- House prices are often crazy, and bare no relation to each other, two similar places within a few km of each other will be €250k and the other €475k for no discernible reason. This is often inheritance related, its worth 250k, but its to be split 7 ways and everybody wants 100k from it etc etc
- I'd have no bones about suggesting interest at what you think it is actually worth and leaving that with them to digest, no need to make an offer, just register interest at a price that you'd happily pay.
- Agents are not your friends and are responsible for rising prices, treat them as such.
- One piece of rural land was €200k, but the building was illegal, so I said I'd be interested at €60k, they came back after 6 weeks with €120k, and so on. Depends on demand and the craziness of the original price.
If there is genuine high demand for a place, you need to use being a 'cash buyer' and so forth to move what you can. But every agent will say there is interest in a place etc
If not such great demand, then work the situation all you can (provide a good story why thats too much, show other places that sold for what your offering, price up all of the changes that need to happen before you could live there, ask about all of the paperwork with knowledge to see what they are hiding etc etc) and don't be afraid to be shameless, they probably weren't when inventing a price out of thin air with the agent - at least 50% of the price is not based on anything other than thin air after all ;-p