Buyers guide

Purchasing a property in a foreign country can sometimes be a worrying, if not intimidating, experience. This is often because the legal procedures, regulations and paperwork will differ from the country you are living in. 

The process in Portugal is not complicated and at Spencer Becks we will guide you through the process and make this as easy and uncomplicated as possible. This short guide will provide you with an overview of the steps commonly taken when purchasing a property in Portugal.

Agents must be registered

Estate agencies in Portugal must be registered and you should only deal with a Government Licensed Agent in order to protect your interests . Every Licensed Agent must display their AMI license in their office and on all advertising.  Licensed Agents are accountable for their actions. Our AMI license number is 13722.


Once you have selected the properties you wish to view Spencer Becks will organise your viewings. Keep in mind also that we know the areas that surround the properties and what those areas offer in the way of amenities – please do ask if you have specific requirements or questions.


Once you have found a property you want to buy, you will need to make an offer. Spencer Becks will answer any questions you have regarding this and guide you through the process.  We will need information from you besides financing that may have an impact on your offer being accepted. For example, how quickly can you proceed? When are you hoping to complete on the property? Did you want any fixtures or fittings included in the purchase?  Once we have this information we can then negotiate the offer with the seller for you.

Most properties are listed with multiple agents

Most properties in Portugal are on the market with several agents so it may be possible to only have to deal with Spencer Becks and we will arrange viewings for you even if they are on the market with another agent. If this is not possible we will advise you, but most agencies do cooperate with each other.


We will ask you to confirm how you are financing the property; cash, mortgage, loan or if you need to sell something in order to purchase. This information will need to be known should you choose to make an offer.

flower bed with colourful flowers
doormat with words home sweet home


After the price has been agreed and accepted and all other terms are accepted you will need a lawyer. Spencer Becks can provide you with names of reputable lawyers or you can select a lawyer of your choice. Your lawyer will ensure that anything you sign is legal and that any content has been checked in order to ensure your interests are protected. Any contracts will be provided in your language in order that you understand what you are signing.

There are certain documents that must be in place and checked by your lawyer and the main documents are; Land Registry Records, Tax Office Registrations and Debts, Licenses, Energy Certificate, the Ficha Tecnica de Habitacao – FTH (this is the building’s technical records and will provide you with useful information regarding the construction of your home). The FTH is compulsory for any properties that have been constructed since 2004.


When all the paperwork has been checked your lawyer will prepare a promissory contract for your perusal. The promissory contract (promessa), is a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller.  The contract states who the seller and buyer are, a description of the property and the terms of payment and completion. When this document is signed a deposit of 10-15% is paid by the buyer to the seller in order to reserve the property until completion.

Under Portuguese legislation, once this contract is signed, if the buyer backs out they will lose their deposit, if the seller backs out, he has to pay double the deposit to the buyer.

New Builds

If you are purchasing a new build property, payments will normally be specified based on a stages agreement. These payments and dates will be agreed between yourself and the builder.

IMT (Property Transfer Tax)

If you are purchasing a new build property, payments will normally be specified based on a stages agreement. These payments and dates will be agreed between yourself and the builder.


The purchase of the property is completed when the public title deeds of purchase are signed and the final payment is made, thereby giving ownership of the property to the buyer. The contract of finance, if being taken out, will normally be signed at the same time. You can attend the signing of the deed if you wish or you can provide a Power of Attorney (POA) to your lawyer to act

Once the deed and other associated transactions are completed your lawyer will register the new ownership with the Land Registry (Registo Predial). Buyers will receive a copy of this for their files.

Request Free Guide to Buying Property in Portugal

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

We send a newsletter roughly once a month, containing latest listings and news. You can unsubscribe at any time from the newsletters you receive or by contacting us.

You are now signed up!