Once you have found your new property, the next step is to engage the services of a local lawyer to represent you in the purchase. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the basic legal and tax issues involved.
Power of Attorney
Your Portuguese lawyer will need a power of attorney (Procuração) to be able to act on your behalf. If you are staying in Portugal, this can be registered at the Notary Office. Otherwise, it can be prepared by the Portuguese Consulate in your country of residence, or by a local notary. In this case it must be accompanied by a Notary Certificate of Apostille of the Hague Convention and translated into Portuguese. If you are buying through an offshore company, then the offshore administrators should provide the requisite power of attorney.
All buyers, whether individual or corporate, must obtain a fiscal number from the Tax Office (Finanças).
- All properties, whether plots or residences, are registered at the Land Conservatory (Conservatória do Registo Predial) in the name of the seller, showing the history of the property and whether any charges or liens exist against the property.
- All urban properties have a Caderneta Urbana from the Tax Office (Finanças). The caderneta is like an identity card for the property. It gives the article number, size and location of the plot, it defines the borders of the plot, and gives a rateable value for the property. This valor patrimonial is the property value on which the annual rate (autárquica) payable to the local Town Hall (Câmara) is based. This value is normally much lower than the real value of the property. Generally, when purchasing a property, it is advisable to do a search in Finanças as well as in the Conservatória, as there may be actions pending against the property not yet advised to the Conservatória
- All residences must also have a Habitation Licence (Licença de Habitação) issued by the local Câmara.
The next step is for both parties to enter into a Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale (Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda), which is legalised at the Notary Office. The buyer will pay a percentage of the total purchase price and the parties will agree with the Notary to record a date for completion of the purchase.
If the seller withdraws from the sale, the seller is then required by law to repay twice the deposit. Likewise, if the buyer fails to complete the purchase, then the buyer forfeits the total of the deposit.
Prior to completion, the purchaser is required to pay a property transfer tax or sisa tax to Finanças.
Deed of Purchase and Sale
Once other formalities are completed, the sale can proceed with the Deed of Purchase and Sale (Escritura Publica de Compra e Venda), which is executed before a Notary and officially recorded. At the same time the balance of the purchase price is paid according to the terms of the Promissory Contract.