Finding property for sale in Portugal direct from owners, whether in the Algarve, Alentejo or Lisbon is easier than ever before thanks to real estate websites and apps, but there are still lots of aspects of the Portuguese real estate market than can be a real headache for expats. The best way to traverse the minefield of legal mumbo-jumbo and tax law in Portugal is with the help of an estate agency.
There are plenty of real estate agencies in Portugal that specialise in expats’ property needs and have English-speaking staff, but while they might all seem quite similar, the quality of services on offer can vary greatly. So, how do you pick the best real estate agent for you?
- They’ll be there for you: Yes, just like friends, a good real estate agent is one who will give you all the information you want in a timely manner when you send them emails or call them. Your real estate agent will be working for you, so you want to feel like they’re focussing only on you and have got your best interests at heart, whether that’s renting rural property in Portugal, buying cheap beach property in the Algarve or selling your house in Lisbon. Shop around for someone trustworthy and who gives you that oh-so-important feeling of being cared for.
- They’re on the internet: These days, the vast majority of property transactions happen online, so you should look for an estate agency with its own website and a social media presence. Not only will it make them easier for you to find and get in touch with, but it’s also a sign that they have lots of contacts in the industry. That doesn’t mean you should automatically trust the agency with the best website (anyone can do that!), but it can be a promising sign of professionalism and trustworthiness. You can also search online for reviews and comments about the company to see what other users thought of them, and if they would recommend them.
- They’re fully licensed: Be sure to only use serious, professional companies with accreditation, registered in the INCI (Instituto dos Mercados Públicos, do Imobiliário e da Construção), the Official School of Public, Real Estate and Construction Markets. Ideally, the INCI logo will be visible on their Portuguese-language website so you can easily check whether they’re accredited or not. They may also be part of an association of Portuguese estate agencies, like AMI or AMEDI.
- They have experience with ex-pats: A real estate agent in Portugal should know their local area well and the properties in it, of course, as well as all the legal frameworks and processes related to property transactions in Portugal, but it’s equally important that they know the best way to deal with your specific needs as a customer from overseas. There’s nothing wrong with asking for some proof of their previous experience in helping expats to buy and sell in Portugal, and whether they know in depth all the extra paperwork required.
- You get more bang for your buck: Most estate agent fees in Portugal are fairly reasonable, and paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a better service. To make sure your money goes further, try to find an estate agent who can offer you all the other additional extras you may need without having to go elsewhere. Maybe they have their own legal department, can take care of getting you a mortgage with a Portuguese bank, or also have a section for officially translating and notarising documents in the same office.
When you’re looking for property for sale in the Algarve, Lagos or anywhere else in Portugal, it helps to have a firm ally on your side. idealista provides lists of reputable real estate agents in every region of Portugal to help you in your search, and here are a few in the most popular places for expats: