Good & bad experiences with real estate agencies/agents

Feel free to make your personal inputs here, alerting or giving suggestions to other people who are going at this moment to what you went through when looking for a house in Portugal :)

Yes! I'm a 20-year real estate broker and am seriously considering getting my license there if I end up moving there (I also have a FT job as a real estate course developer that I can take with me). I may rent my home out here and rent there for the first couple of years so I can really learn the area and learn the ropes. Reconnaissance trip planned in September.


I hope everyone can avoid the scammers in the meantime!

Yvonne

@YvonneAileen It might be a kind of tight squeeze here in central Portugal.  Looking at it from the outside, there aren't a lot of properties that meet the expectations of foreign buyers, and the agencies have stuff sitting around for what seems like years, priced for a market they and the property owners overestimated.  I think there are more agencies than homes for sale.  No idea what they survive on.  I'm sure it's better somewhere in Portugal.  Or maybe there's a thriving real estate market that I don't see, entirely possible.


I talked to four realtors that I remember.  One spoke English, the rest did not.  That kind of surprised me, but could be another indication of how the market really is.

Thank you so much. I'm actually very open. Portugal was on my short list because of the people, the climate, the food, but honestly? The Atlantic cold water scares me. I was spoiled paddle boarding every morning when I lived on Maui for 2 years. Why I didn't stay: Too much transient energy - no sense of community. Portugal appeals to me for its expat population. What I'm looking for:

Beachfront residence

Low cost of living

Warm sense of community

Warm water

Not crazy touristy

Safe

@donn25 I agree with you. The real estate market in Portugal is not an easy one. The properties I am looking at, don't meet my basic needs such as having a heater, bathtub, acceptable energy certificate performance, double glazed windows, building less than 20 or 30 years old, and are over priced in my opinion but when I try to negotiate the price for all those inconveniences , the sellers don't want to move much, maybe a couple thousands dollars, not more. I feel like I am overpaying if I offer their asking price. Many listings have been on the market for several months but they still don't want to make an effort. I made an offer 2 days ago and my agent is not getting back to me to tell me if my offer was accepted, countered or whatever ? I understand it's Sunday but aren't the week ends, the most important days in real estate when people are free and have time to take care of that ? To me, it means the agent is playing and trying to wait until the Tuesday to let me know what's going on and by that time, trying to get more offers to compete with mine and if no better offer, then deal with mine. I feel frustrated at this point.

Portugal is all about work/life balance, even for real estate sellers and agents.  It can take a while to get used to that.


Just to throw in a gratuitous relevancy - in my area there's an agency that lists homes you can't find.


I mean, very few houses for sale here in the online platforms like idealista, show their location, which to me seems ... not very customer oriented.  Location matters.  But I have always been able to find anything I'm really interested in, eventually - except this one outfit.  In one case, maybe because the photo documentation was too skimpy - I believe I now know which house that was, it's a big old thing in the middle of a field 50m from a busy railway.  In others, possibly because the house is not anywhere near the city it's listed as.


Our agent says, not necessarily commenting on this particular agency, they'll list places as a kind of bait and switch practice.  Something they aren't likely to ever close a sale on, but once they have you, they can show some other stuff that they couldn't easily sell online.

@Julia, if the real estate agent doesn't contact you on a extended weekend, it's not because he doesn't want to work, it's because he has no answer to give you... I as a seller, have been contacted on a Saturday night, and closed the sale of a house on Sunday morning, ok?

We have just bought our house in the Caldas da Rainha area. We had seen about 20 house between Mealhada and Moita Lisbon. All of these, while at various points on our budget line , were just not right and non of the agents we encountered took any particular interest in our needs.


We had lost hope of finding something when we viewed a house that was pretty decent in Fanadia outside Caldas and this house was shown to us by a R*** agent who spoke terrific English. He was also keen to understand what we were looking for even though the Fanadia house was also not quite right. His name is J**** and he operates from the R***  office. Our engagement with him has been great, we found the right house in Landal which we have now bought. He took us to furniture shops so we got a feel for prices, arranged for us to visit Silver Coast Pools to enable us judge how we would put in a pool and even sourced technology firms about improving internet connectivity at the property. I can honestly say we could very easily have given up our dream of buying in Portugal had we not been fortunate to meet him. My advice to anyone is should you be fortunate to engage with a real estate agent who has both the personal skills to discuss what you need and knowledge of the area you are seeking to buy in, foster that relationship as on your own it is very hard.


best wishes with the hunt!


Roz

@donn25 Thanks for your reply. So I guess I shouldn't be too worried but it's been 4 days now and still no news even though the agent said he would tell me something.  If I had known, I wouldn't have even bothered putting an offer in. But I am still pretty sure that they are trying to get other offers during this long week end. I guess it's ok but the agent could have at least told me something, either positive or negative. I don't like suspense... In this competitive market, if you don't move fast, you may end up losing the opportunities.


You are right, I went to see a very nice flat last week. It seems as if it had everything I wish for and was ready to make an offer too ; however, when I got there, and opened the window, there was this terrible constant noise from the busy highway and even though on the pictures, it showed a nice view of the river, it wasn't the same once you were actually in the apartment. The owner told me it was very quiet. Maybe yes when you are inside but as soon as you got on the terrace, it was very noisy. Bottom line, the terrace would be basically useless for me if it's noisy like that but they took the pictures in such a way that you wouldn't see the highway.


So do you recommend another website to see more options ? I thought Idealista would show all the properties for sale.


Thanks,


Julia

Ok, I understand that it's a long weekend and that it's ok if I haven't heard anything about my offer from the agent, even though he said he was going to inform the seller the same day and present the offer the following day in person... It's just that I am used to countries that answer you within a few hours, week end or not. Now I know that it's different in Portugal. I also thought that week ends were the busiest days in Springs real estate market ! I guess I was wrong.


Then again, true, maybe the agent didn't have anything to tell me.


So, I guess, I keep on waiting until tomorrow evening.

My agent told me that the energy certificate doesn't mean much and that I shouldn't pay too much attention to it (even if it's an E or F) because the owner could pay the technician to produce anything the seller wants. I am not so sure about that. I think most technicians are doing their job honestly even though it may have happened to upgrade a certificate from 1 or 2 letters....


I live in an 'E' flat right now and I wouldn't like to renew the same bad experience.

Hello everyone,


Please note that I have moved several posts from another thread to this thread of the Portugal forum as they were initially posted on the wrong thread.


Please carry on ...


Thank you

Bhavna

My agent told me that the energy certificate doesn't mean much and that I shouldn't pay too much attention to it (even if it's an E or F) because the owner could pay the technician to produce anything the seller wants.
-@juliajonesjy


That's not true... that's the real estate agent's way of selling you a property with a bad energy certificate

How do you guys handle the buying / money transfer process?


We have had an offer accepted and been given an IBAN number to transfer €2.500 to take the property off the market.


I'm used to being able to check that the name on account matches the details entered when working with UK based accounts. How can we do this with an IBAN? We don't have a Portuguese bank account yet so I was going to use a currency service like TransferWise. How have you guys checked the recipient is correct?


Who should be the recipient of the reservation funds and once that's done, the seller has requested we make a downpayment of 20%. Who does that downpayment get paid to? I'm so used to doing everything via a solicitor in the UK but this process seems crazy to me.


So I guess my questions are:


1) How do you check recipient details with IBAN?

2) Who should receive the reservation cash? The lawyer? The estate agent? The seller?

3) Who should receive the downpayment of 20% once docs have been signed?

I'm dealing with the exact same situation, so I'm looking forward to the replies -:)

however, I have hired a Portuguese/German lawyer to guide us through every step of the process. It's not cheap, but comparable to what a buyer would pay a notary in Germany with the added benefit of  specifications  of the all important  pre contract according to your conditions

if you have hired a lawyer, I was told that payments go to his or her escrow account to be released only if both parties agree to all terms.

A lawyer is not a bad idea. I don't know that it necessarily changes how payment works. Are we talking about Contrato de Promessa Compra e Venda? That's probably worth reading up on. You may find lawyers who insist that this is an obligatory step. It isn't, but it's usual.


Purchase money should not go to the agent / mediador.

Hi Rob Evans, Bettina, Donn25,

I'll try to give some answers


  • the use of a lawyer or sollicitador (cheaper than a lawyer) is higly recommended im Portugal. They will be in charge of controlling that all documents mandatory to conclude a valid deed are present and valid
  • You will anyhow need a translator for the deed
  • payments may varies depending of the use of the real estate agency, many ask for a small amount at the time you say your are interested to avoid unwanted request from many customer who disappears afterwards. This fee can be transfered to the real estate agent or to the seller, this need to be clarified with the real estate agent : no rule for that
  • for the IBAN you should ask for a document mentioning IBAN and Owner of the account issued by the bank : they can easily issues this kind of document through the online banking
  • Then you have the CPCV approved by your lawyer and signed at the real estate agency, the amount then paid should be arround 10% and the money is transferred directly to the seller. Can be done by bank transfer the day or the day after the CPCV signature, and you must keep a trace of this transfer as it need to be provided at the notary office
  • Finaly at the deed signature you will have to pay first the IMT (a % of the purchase depending on the value of it, you can estimate it through the apemip site in portugal) and then the remaining value at the notary office with a bank check plus the notary fee
  • Eventually, CPCV can be omited if you and the seller agree upon : meaning all paperwork is clear and you have the cash ready, in this case a deed can be concluded in less than a week.

@Rob Evans


The 20% deposit should go to the seller. I know as strange as it is, that's the way they do it in Portugal. The funds don't go to the lawyer's trust account or real estate agency, they go to the seller's account. Here again, you need as many details as necessary to make sure the right person is credited and that it's really the owner of the property. Well, that was I was told by my realtor. Also when I talked to my lawyer, he said that he doesn't handle the funds. Portuguese regulation.

@Rob Evans Oh sorry, the reservation funds (2500 euros) should go to the property owner so the IBAN should be matching the name of the vendor/seller not to the realtor even though the standard reservation form is made by the real estate agency, the funds have to be credited to the owner of that property.

@Rob Evans Oh sorry, the reservation funds (2500 euros) should go to the property owner so the IBAN should be matching the name of the vendor/seller not to the realtor even though the standard reservation form is made by the real estate agency, the funds have to be credited to the owner of that property.
-@juliajonesjy

This is specific to each real estate agent I have seen up to now.

Some are asking the money for themself and then reimburse the buyer after the deed or the CPCV, other ask to transfer this amount to the seller as an advance for the CPCV (which value is more often 10 than 20%)

Ok.

Regarding the CPCV, I'm with boutdechou39 -  if you're going to make this partial reservation payment, it's for the seller, and I would be skeptical of a real estate agent who wants it.  Though at that point of course your lawyer would be a better reference than me.


It sounds however as though we may also be talking about the buyer paying the real estate agent a fee, separate from the CPCV.  Not necessarily a bad thing - they're going to get money out of it one way or another, and that money is in effect going to come from you in any case.  In Portugal the role of agent or mediador is somewhat different than the US, there isn't usually a buyer's agent who sort of pretends to be the selling agent's adversary for you.  You may find that for a while in your new home in a strange land, that seller's agent is an important resource for you, the buyer.  (Not that paying him a fee is going to secure that relationship, I'm basically just rambling here.)

I think a detailed description of the normal steps of house purchase and where money goes and what is normal vs abnormal. For instance, in the UK it is very strange to be asked to pay a reservation fee to take a property off the market, but in Portugal it appears to be standard practise.


Also in the UK you do everything through a lawyer and money is transferred to the lawyer, never directly to the seller or estate agent. Again this appears to be different in Portugal.


when we had an offer accepted on a property in Portugal we were asked for the reservation fee to transfer and I immediately got suspicious and lost trust in the estate agent because it sounded crazy to me that you would have a reservation fee.


then I did a load of googling and spoke to a lawyer and they said it's normal.


I suspect the same concerns will be raised by our cousins in the US who will be used to some sort of legal escrow service.

Thank you all for your replies! We are starting the process and it's all a bit new and very different from the UK. It's really great to have a community to ask questions and sanity check like this! Much appreciated everyone!!

@JohnnyPT Which agent and attorney did you use when you closed the sale on the weekend? I am only gettting scammers and apparent criminals in the real estate business in the Algarve. I need to find the good lawyers and real estate people. Thank you.

@donn25 Please be careful with organizations like  idealista. It appears anyone can use them including apparent criminals claiming to be builders. Make sure you get more than designs for new builds before using them. Get all documents upfront. Too many scammers.

Nothing against you @marclarsson50 but as everywhere in the world when there are more and more people coming in and screaming loud "I have money, I want to buy real estate" then you also have greed persons and thief that jump on the train and try to catch the more money they can, this is the real life, unfortunately and everyone must behave cautiously and slowly, with some safety belt as could be lawyers, solicitador or other trusted person.


It's not because it is published somewhere that it is the truth (you can, by the way, apply that for many other case than the real estate), buyer must act cautiously and take the time, thief and untrustworthy real estate agent are always dealing with the speed, pushing their prey to let them make mistakes, it is up to any of us to be able to think twice and accept to say "no, this sound too nice to be true, even if I could lose this opportunity". Any of us have to be able to let our tiny greed part away from our decision, not easy, I agree, but it's so satisfying in hindsight.

We had a very bad experience with R**** in Porto. There are lots of R*** agencies. Ours was very insistent, he had a good flat, though we had doubts. But after some haggling, we had a deal on Friday. Actually, we thought that we had a deal. We stopped looking for flats and told to the other agents that we found one, cancelling appointments etc. On Saturday I wrote him, no answer. Ok, maybe his off day. On Monday morning I wrote again, no answer! The man who had been calling time and again! Late afternoon he said that some other person bought it. Now his colleague says that "I apologize if you felt cheated, it was not our intention" and wants to show us other flats.

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I want share my experience with **** in Madeira..  The agent let us pay €2000 to reserve the property that we saw through a friend living in Madeira as a virtual tour with her phone,  and suppose there was a deal already on the table from other buyer, but he told us if we offer more it might be ours, we did send him an email with our increased offer, of course the other buyer offered more than us and the deal is off.. its cool, we'll keep looking for other property.. Here comes the fun part of retrieving back the money that he promised in 2 days.. After many  many many emails back and forth and excuses that he didnt have the IBAN which he was not saying the truth, because the Screen shot we sent him on “The IBAN he provided” under : (***) (***) and he CONFIRMED he received the money by email that contains “our Portuguese bank account IBAN”..

"we FINALLY got the money back..Whew!!'

I think the MAIN problem in Portugal that the agent takes his commission from the SELLER, so he definitely don't care about the buyer…  The process of buying a property is already VERY stressful in Portugal, lots of scammers and agents willing to sacrifice their company reputation just to make a quick cash from customers abroad..NOT NICE to add this additional pressure .. NEVER EVER trust ANY agent that insists of paying money even if its just €2000 because you will suffer to retrieve them.. Just sharing my experience, be very cautious!!!


PS: I'm NOT into defamation  here, i have proof from all the emails i received from the agent including video from the tour that day where the agent asking to increase the offer and to wire the money!

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I think it's generally true, for example also in the US, that for practical purposes a real estate always has a common interest with the seller.  That is, if they collect a commission that's based on the sale price, the higher the price, the more they make.


In my experience, I was fortunate to get a seller's agent who took a personal interest in making the deal turn out to the satisfaction of both parties, to the extent of ferrying us around to the utilities to deal with the change of ownership, showing us the sights around town he thought we'd be interested in, etc.  Far more than our agents in the US ever did.  So I can't complain.  While he was an exceptional example, I think it's fairly commonplace for Portuguese real estate transactions to be handled by the seller's agent alone.


    I want share my experience with **** in Madeira..  The agent let us pay €2000 to reserve the property that we saw through a friend living in Madeira as a virtual tour with her phone,  and suppose there was a deal already on the table from other buyer, but he told us if we offer more it might be ours, we did send him an email with our increased offer, of course the other buyer offered more than us and the deal is off.. its cool, we'll keep looking for other property.. Here comes the fun part of retrieving back the money that he promised in 2 days.. After many  many many emails back and forth and excuses that he didnt have the IBAN which he was not saying the truth, because the Screen shot we sent him on “The IBAN he provided” under : (***) (***) and he CONFIRMED he received the money by email that contains “our Portuguese bank account IBAN”.. "we FINALLY got the money back..Whew!!'I think the MAIN problem in Portugal that the agent takes his commission from the SELLER, so he definitely don't care about the buyer…  The process of buying a property is already VERY stressful in Portugal, lots of scammers and agents willing to sacrifice their company reputation just to make a quick cash from customers abroad..NOT NICE to add this additional pressure .. NEVER EVER trust ANY agent that insists of paying money even if its just €2000 because you will suffer to retrieve them.. Just sharing my experience, be very cautious!!! PS: I'm NOT into defamation  here, i have proof from all the emails i received from the agent including video from the tour that day where the agent asking to increase the offer and to wire the money!        -@Gretanoah7


Hi and Welcome,


Would you elaborate as i don't fully understand. 


Did you make a verbal or email offer on a property without having inspected the place personally ?

Did vendor/their agent  supply you with the paperwork for the property beforehand ?

Did you have a draft copy of the Promissory ?

Did your legal adviser check the paperwork and advise you ?

Did you then send monies to the vendor/their agent as advised by your legal adviser ?