The Insider’s Guide to Buy a House in Portugal

Demystifying the Home-Buying Process for International Buyers in Portugal
This article was written in partnership with Martínez-Echevarría, Ferreira & Rivera law firm. Their expert legal insights greatly contributed to the comprehensive nature of this guide.

Thinking about buying a home in the sun-kissed land of Portugal? You’re not alone. Portugal has increasingly become a haven for international buyers. Its rich cultural heritage, friendly communities, and ideal climate make it an irresistible destination. But the process of buying a house, especially in a foreign country, can be complicated. Whether you’re an expat, investor, or a retiree, this comprehensive guide will walk you through every essential step to buy a house in Portugal, and make your dream a reality.

Understanding What You Want:

The journey to owning your dream home in Portugal starts with understanding your own needs and preferences. Are you looking for a bustling city life in Lisbon or a tranquil beachside residence in the Algarve? Do you need proximity to international schools or a vibrant expat community? The first crucial step is to have an in-depth discussion with your chosen real estate agency. This initial meeting can be conducted virtually or in-person and will set the tone for the properties that will be presented to you later. Being specific in this stage is crucial; it helps the agency tailor their search to homes that meet your criteria, thereby saving you valuable time.

Get Your Tax Number and Legal Help:

Before you even start browsing through property listings, you’ll need some essential paperwork. First on the list is obtaining a Portuguese Fiscal Number (NIF). This tax identification number is not just a bureaucratic formality; it’s a legal requirement for buying property and opening a bank account in Portugal. Your real estate agency can guide you through the process, often offering recommendations for legal advisors skilled in property law. This legal representation ensures that you navigate through all the legal intricacies smoothly, whether you’re in Portugal or completing these steps remotely.

Quick Tip: Consistency is key. Stick with one trusted real estate agency for a streamlined experience. Their extensive network can unearth hidden gems and provide alternative options that align perfectly with your needs.

Check the House Carefully:

Falling in love with a property at first sight is easy, but what lies beneath the surface could make or break your investment. This is why a thorough technical survey is non-negotiable. Professionals, usually a team of architects and engineers, will inspect the property to assess its structural integrity, quality of construction materials, and any potential issues such as dampness, mold, or faulty wiring. On the legal front, your team should conduct due diligence, which includes verifying property titles, ensuring there are no unpaid property taxes, and checking for any legal disputes that might jeopardize your purchase.

Choose the Right House:

The property search is perhaps the most exciting part of the process. Your agency should present you with a list of homes that closely align with your specified criteria. Here’s where the breadth of your agency’s network really comes into play. Even if the initial listings don’t fully meet your expectations, don’t worry. A reputable agency has partnerships with other agencies and can quickly provide alternative options.

Choose Hakken Real Estate: At Hakken Real Estate, we pride ourselves on our extensive experience with international buyers. We understand the unique challenges you may face and are equipped to guide you through each step of the home-buying process. Click here to visit our listings to kickstart your journey to owning a beautiful home in Portugal.

Relocating and Community Amenities:

If you’re relocating, especially from another country, community amenities such as schools, healthcare facilities, and shopping centers will be high on your priority list. Ensure to inquire about these during your property search.

An interesting fact – at Hakken, we have already helped many customers to settle their pets, with logistical support at the airport, veterinary assessment upon arrival, and daily specialized follow-up until their arrival in Portugal.

Price and Area Evaluation:

Before making an offer, it’s wise to ask your agency for a detailed evaluation of average property prices in the area, based on recent sales. This will give you a strong negotiating position and ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.

Financing Your Property:

For most people, buying a house involves some form of financing. In Portugal, mortgage options are available even for international buyers, but conditions can vary significantly. Your credit history, income, and the type of property you’re buying can all affect your eligibility for a loan. Some Portuguese banks might also require life insurance for the loan duration. Your real estate agency can often recommend financial advisors or institutions familiar with aiding international clients in obtaining a mortgage.

Understanding Property Taxes:

Portugal has several property-related taxes that you should be aware of. The most significant ones are the Municipal Property Transfer Tax (IMT), Stamp Duty, and the Annual Municipal Property Tax (IMI). These taxes vary based on the property’s value and location. Understanding these tax obligations upfront can help you budget more accurately and avoid unpleasant surprises later.

The Role of the Notary:

In Portugal, the final step in the property purchase process is the signing of the deed in front of a notary. The notary’s role is to certify that all legal requirements have been met and that both parties understand their obligations. The notary also ensures that the property is free from any liens or debts before the transaction is finalized.

Renovation and Property Management:

If you’re buying an older home or a property that needs a bit of a facelift, consider the renovation costs. Some real estate agencies provide or can recommend property management services, including renovation management. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re not residing in Portugal full-time and need someone on the ground to oversee the work.


Buying a house in Portugal is a significant milestone and potentially a dream come true. Whether you’re seeking a new home, a vacation property, or an investment opportunity, navigating the real estate market can be challenging. However, with proper planning, due diligence, and the right real estate partner, you can buy a house in Portugal with full confidence and minimal stress.

Martínez-Echevarría, Ferreira & Rivera law firm - in partnership with HKK Hakken Real Estate

Martínez-Echevarría, Ferreira & Rivera is a professional law firm of legal services, both for consultancy and for judicial protection, with activity developed in Spain, Portugal and Turkey for companies, families and private individuals. The current team has more than 250 professionals, which makes Martínez-Echevarría & Rivera Lawyers a modern law office, completely adapted and prepared to give a response to the most demanding requirements for companies, both national and international, operating in Spain and Portugal. Know more at

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