Buying that property!

The property doctor

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Buying that property!

Have you ever considered when you are buying property whether the property you view is exactly what was intended when it was built or indeed if it is even legal?! Perhaps you have bought a property and have a nagging feeling that something is not quite correct?
Whilst building and planning controls have been strengthened dramatically in recent years much older property available for sale in Portugal will have suffered minor and, in some cases, major alterations which may or may not have been done with the consent of the relevant authorities. In addition tighter controls on real estate agents mean they are bound to market what they know to be legally there but frequently errors still occur.

It may be the case that you think you are buying a 3 bedroom villa without garage or a 3 bed apartment when in fact what your lawyer buys for you is a two bed villa with garage or a two bed apartment with large covered terraces. It may seem an obvious thing to do but often it is overlooked in the enthusiasm of the process to tell your lawyer EXACTLY what you have seen and think you are buying so that he or she can match up what is registered at both the tax department and land registry with that. Don’t be afraid to show your legal adviser the print out from the internet or from the real estate agent with pictures if necessary so that he or she can see what you have agreed to buy and ensure that is what is legally there.

Typical and obvious mistakes are the garage or basement converted to a bedroom or studio, a swimming pool constructed without licenses, a borehole sunk with no authorisation and access in place without correct registration of right of way. Less obvious, but frequent, mistakes are those involving land or building areas, registration details at the land registry not matching with the tax department and lack of habitation permits.

The fact is that it is up to the buyer to decide whether to go ahead and buy or not “caveat emptor” springs to mind - but the important thing is to be aware of any errors or deficiencies so you can make that decision with full knowledge of what you are getting rather than finding out those errors and mistakes when you come to sell.

Forewarned is to be forearmed!

This is an occasional column written for subscribers with the intention of highlighting matters involving Portuguese property acquisition and ownership. It will never be intended to deal exhaustively with any particular topic but rather give food for thought, and subsequent enquiry if applicable, to the appropriate professionally qualified adviser.

The column is written by The Property Doctor. For details of what The Property Doctor may be able to do for you or for further assistance contact: