Before you can purchase a property, you will need your unique Fiscal Number (Número de Identificação Fiscal). You can apply for a NIF number through your local Finanças (tax office) in Portugal or at a local Citizen Shop. If you want to apply from outside Portugal, you can obtain a temporary number through a Portuguese lawyer.
Government licensed estate agents can be recognised by their AMI number. The average fee for estate agents is 5% of the sale value (plus IVA). This is payable by the seller and included in the sale price. Whilst this fee is quite high, a good agent will work hard to secure and complete a sale and should assist you through the entire buying process.
Portuguese lawyers are registered with the Portuguese Law Society and will have a registration number that you can check. If you don’t speak Portuguese, ensure you appoint an English speaking lawyer. Your estate agent can probably recommend a local lawyer and you can ask our membership for their recommendations.
The lawyer’s fee is on average 1% to 1.5% (plus IVA) of the purchase price, payable by the buyer. The lawyer will handle all documentation and cross reference the information with the tax office and land registry. He or she will determine if a Power of Attorney is required, draw up the contracts, oversee signing, pay all fees and register the sale with a public notary.
Once a purchase and price are agreed, it is usual for both parties to sign a promissory contract. In this document, the buyer promises to buy the property and the owner promises to sell at an agreed price and timescale. It is usual to agree a completion date within 6 months of signing the contract, although this can be negotiated.
The promissory contract will be drawn up by the lawyer. On signing, the buyer will then pay a deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price) through the lawyer. The promissory contract protects both parties. Under Portuguese law, if the buyer does not proceed the deposit is payable to the seller. If the seller does not proceed, double the deposit is payable to the buyer or they can be forced to complete.
Once the terms of the promissory contract have been met, the buyer and seller (or their legal representatives) will meet again usually with the lawyer and estate agent in attendance. The buyer will pay the balance to the seller, the property will be registered to the new owner and the keys will be handed over.
It is not normal practice to conduct any kind of search regarding future development plans that may impact on your chosen property. For example, major road or new building development close by. It is also not a normal practice to conduct any kind of structural survey on your chosen property. These can be obtained at an additional cost.
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