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What Expats Need to Know About Real Estate When Moving to Portugal

Many expats dream of moving to Portugal to improve their quality of life, get access to more affordable healthcare, and to own their dream home. Expats can own property in Portugal, although the process to secure the property of your choice is different than what you might be used to in your home country.

Real Estate for Expats in Portugal

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Housing Purchase Process Overview

  1. Consider taking a discovery trip to Portugal

  2. View listings and make a decision on where to buy

  3. Engage a lawyer, get a NIF (tax number) and arrange finance (if required).

  4. Make an offer and negotiate with the seller until you both agree on a price.

  5. Arrange conveyancing checks by your lawyer and an independent property survey.

  6. Put down a deposit and sign a promissory contract (this is optional).

  7. Pay the property transfer tax and agree upon a purchase date.

  8. Sign the final deed and pay the balancing purchase price.

  9. Register the deed at the Land Registry.


Expected Fees

  • Engineer/Inspection fees: ~€400

  • Real estate fees: fees paid on the seller's side

  • Property transfer tax: ~6%

  • Stamp duty: .8% of property purchase price

  • Notary and other document fees: ~€750


Realtor vs. Buyer's Agent

There are two typical models for buyers' agents, commission-based and up-front fee

  • Commission model: The buyer's agent splits the commission with the selling agent. Typically the commission is 5% shared between the two. This doesn’t cost the buyer anything, as you’d pay the 5% anyway. There are no penalties for backing out from a deal (although you may be asked to pay a refundable deposit to your agent). Your agent is incentivized to get you to buy any home quickly.

  • Up-front payment model: Some agencies charge a fixed price, typically around €5000. This raises the buyer’s cost, but some argue that it gives you access to the whole market, as some sellers’ agents don’t want to split the 5% commission. Your agent also won't have the same incentive to push you toward a more expensive home quickly.



Portuguese inheritance law recognizes wills that have been drawn up abroad, even if they include instructions for property and assets in Portugal. 

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