The Buying Process
Once you have found the property you would like to purchase, and your agent has successfully negotiated a deal on your behalf, the agent will then prepare a 'letter of intent'. This document clearly states the agreed price, exchange and completion dates, and what is to be included. We then recommend that you instruct a local lawyer to represent you in the purchase.
Once you have instructed a lawyer they will begin all the necessary legal searches on the property. These include ensuring the seller has clear title to sell the property and that there are no outstanding charges on the property. The lawyer will then prepare the Promissory Contract, which is a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller and is signed by both parties in the presence of a notary or lawyer. The Promissory Contract will state the buyer and the sellers details, as well as those of the property, the schedule of payments, completion date and any special terms agreed by both parties. Upon signature, it is normal procedure for the buyer to pay the vendor a 10% deposit, Under Portuguese law, if the vendor does not fulfil his contractual obligations, he is liable to refund the deposit in double to the buyer. If the buyer is in breach of contract, the deposit is non-refundable.
Public Deed (Completion)
Upon completion, the Public Deed will be signed in front of a Portuguese Notary who will in turn check all the documents in the purchase and ensures that the purchaser has paid the Purchase Tax (IMT). The Notary office will issue certified copies of the corresponding entry and this serves as official proof the transaction has been made lawful and at this stage the balance of the agreed purchase price is paid in full.
With the Public Deed and all the transaction completed, the buyer’s lawyer will then proceed to register the new owner of the property into the Land Registry (Registo Predial) and will give copy of registration to the new owner.
THE BUYING COSTS (Estimates)
Lawyers' fees normally vary from 1% to 2% of the purchase price.
IMT & IS – Property Purchase Tax & Stamp Duty
This is the Portuguese Property Transfer Tax which is payable by the purchaser prior to completion. The rate is variable and is based on a sliding scale according to the price of the property, up to 6% on residential properties and 6.5% on other properties, including plots of land for construction. The stamp duty is a flat rate of 0.8% of the property price. Please contact your lawyer who will advise you of these costs at an early stage. The transfer tax, stamp duty and registration fees are payable by the purchaser upon signature of the deeds at the public notary and at the Land Registry, when the transfer of property ownership is registered.
If the ownership of a property is held in a company, i.e. a corporate entity, the transaction usually involves the purchase of the vendors’ company’s shares. In such cases corporate entities are usually based in Malta or Delaware for example, with the transaction subject to the jurisdiction of these bases. Your lawyer will in these situations not only do the necessary searches in Portugal but also investigate the history of the company and carry out the due diligence.