State & Third, Travel and Real Estate

An International Home Buying Journey

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the US and mainland Portugal is an archipelago of 9 (almost 10) islands called The Azores. I visited Sao Miguel for the first time last November and it was love at first sight. Imagine an island where you have these incredible dramatic sea scapes, black volcanic stone and black sand beaches, blue ocean water, rain forests, and villages with that classic ‘Old Europe’ feel. São Miguel is the largest of the Azores islands, but they are all bucket-list worthy and have their own flair. This will be the first of many posts documenting my experiences and all the highs-lows and unexpected turns. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

First step, understanding the Portuguese real estate market.

Before embarking on your journey to buy a home in Portugal, it’s crucial to gain a solid understanding of the local real estate market. Finding an honest and patient real estate agent is imperative, especially if you do not speak the language. Portugal offers a diverse range of properties, from historic apartments in Lisbon’s charming neighborhoods to countryside villas in the Algarve to the Azores Islands. Some key considerations are location, property types and your budget. Portugal boasts a variety of climates and landscapes. Do you prefer the bustling city life of Lisbon or Porto, the tranquil countryside of the Alentejo, or the sunny beaches of the Algarve? Your choice will greatly influence both the property prices and lifestyle.

Next to consider if you prefer apartments, townhouses, villas, and even ruins that can be restored. Consider your preferences and the amount of maintenance you’re willing to undertake. Also, if you are not living in Portugal and do not speak the language fluently, do you want to go through the construction process of a property abroad? Most importantly, determine your budget, including not only the purchase price but also property taxes, maintenance costs, and any additional fees related to buying property in Portugal. Also, you need to understand the property taxes and the banks provide insurance, you do not go through the same channels as a US sale. 

Buying property in Portugal involves a legal process that may differ from what you’re accustomed to in your home country. The first thing you will need to do is talk to a lender, your real estate agent should be able to help you find a lender and lawyer. If you are not planning on paying cash, you should explore your options to either finance in Portugal or finance in your home country. If you plan to finance here and transfer the money to a Portuguese bank, pay close attention to conversion rates and try to do it when they’re in your favor. Next you will need to get a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) number. This will be your Portuguese tax identification number, which is necessary for many transactions, including opening a bank account and signing the property deed. When you find your home, a promissory contract (Contrato Promessa de Compra e Venda) is signed, accompanied by a deposit, which legally binds both parties to the transaction. Finally, and I cannot stress enough, find a good real estate agent who is honest and can help guide you through the process. Yes, I have contacts for you!

Everyone has different situations and timeframes for purchasing secondary homes. For me, I decided to purchase a new build which is a little different process than a home on the active market. I will not be able to live in Portugal full time for awhile, so I do not want the maintenance of a single family home. I found a new apartment development in a beach area of town with amazing restaurants, public pools – it checked a lot of boxes. With the help of my amazing real estate agent we were able to secure my unit and it’s scheduled to be complete late spring/ early summer ’24. 

My apartment will be here!

Portugal is known for its warm and welcoming culture and stunning natural beauty. It’s a dream for many to live there and can become a reality with careful planning, research, and the guidance of legal and real estate professionals. Portugal’s beauty, culture, and lifestyle make it a truly enchanting place to call home. Whether you’re seeking a serene retirement destination, a holiday retreat, or a new life adventure, Portugal has something to offer everyone willing to take the plunge into its unique and welcoming world.

So, why wait? Let’s talk about starting your journey to owning a piece of paradise abroad today or traveling tips and tricks. Email me at becky.brisker@cbreaty.com and I will be happy to help however I can.