Is it possible to apply for a mortgage in Portugal from home?

Applying for a home loan has become an increasingly digital process and the pandemic has accelerated this trend.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
7 September 2020, Redaction

Just as the demand for buying and renting property, housing credit and mortgages have become an increasingly digital process in Portugal and one of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to accelerate this transition. The "old days", with traditional commuting and face-to-face meetings, are becoming an increasingly distant memory, and the times are changing. So is it possible to get a mortgage online in Portugal? Perhaps you're planning on moving to Portugal and want to get on with the process before moving. And the answer is yes, it is possible to move forward with the housing credit process without leaving the comfort of your home. How? We explain everything.

It is not always necessary to open a new bank account

Opening a new bank account and home pay are steps that most banking institutions operating in Portugal still consider indispensable to proceed with the approval of a mortgage applications and, in almost all cases, this action has to be taken in person, especially if you are moving to Portugal from another country and don't have a bank account. Find out here how to open a bank account in Portugal

But there are exceptions in the Portuguese market. For example, UCI, a specialist in home loans, assures that "the company doesn't have the same requirements as most banks, such as the need to open an account or take out additional products to obtain more advantageous conditions for the loan", highlighting that this is "one less reason to leave home with the guarantee of taking out a simpler home loan".

Meetings at a distance

The technology to hold meetings at a distance had been available for several years, but as a matter of habit, meetings continued to be mostly face-to-face, with the excuse that personally everything is solved better and faster.

After months at home having to resort to remote meetings, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, "it became evident that remote meetings allow people to optimise time and resources, even for customers," points out the same financial institution, explaining that "there are emails, mobile phones, WhatsApp and tools for remote meetings that are increasingly also working tools and allow people to solve problems and get clarification in real time. And in this way, distance is only physical, because proximity is real".

Sending documentation

The idea that mortgage documentation had to be delivered by hand also seems outdated. Many of the documents needed for mortgage applications in Portugal are available in digital format, and for documents that need to be digitised, it is possible to use a photograph taken with a mobile phone or other forms of document delivery, such as couriers, which avoid travel.

UCI reveals that it has also decided to take steps to go further in this area. With the aim of simplifying the decision making process and the analysis of loan operations for the purchase of a home at a distance, the specialist in home credit indicates that "it has made a process of identity verification and digital signature of documentation online available for its clients, which allows them to start the mortgage process at home, fill out the credit proposal and know the feasibility of the request for a home loan".

In this way, "through a simple process and using the clients' device (mobile phone, laptop or personal computer), clients can obtain a pre-approval of their home loan application in complete safety, at no cost and without making unnecessary travel", according to the company.

Mortgages from distance: a move for the better?

According to UCI, freeing the client from the need to attend face-to-face meetings and allowing them to make the most of time and resources with the delivery of digital documentation is only the first step towards this revolution. Innovation in terms of payments and relations with financial institutions, which point to a progressive simplicity and predominance of technology in the process, are also arriving in the home loan sector in Portugal and beyond. The sector is adapting and showing signs of becoming a less time-consuming and bureaucratic process.

"For now, in a few months, advances that would otherwise have taken years have been achieved in Portugal and these changes for the better mean that, despite the coronavirus confinement in Portugal, the project of buying a house for many people hasn't had to be postponed and has been carried out normally. And thanks to these advances, we can say that long-distance mortgages in Portugal are already a reality", says the financial institution.

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