How to find estate agents in Portugal

TransferWise content team
16.05.19
7 minute read

If you’re planning on buying, renting or selling a home in Portugal, you’ve probably got a few questions about how to get started.

You may be wondering how to choose an estate agent and what the best way to compare estate agents might be. And of course there’s another crucial question to consider: what do estate agents charge in Portugal?

This article covers it all, from where to find a good estate agent, to the costs you can expect to pay, and the best questions to ask estate agents. We will also introduce great way to make international payments to cover your purchase, and for day to day spending when you’re in Portugal - the multi-currency account from TransferWise.

Once you’ve found a great estate agent, you’re one step closer to getting your dream home in Portugal. Let’s get started.

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Now, back to what you came here to read.

Finding Portuguese estate agents: Local estate agents or online letting agents?

When you’re looking for a property in Portugal to buy or rent, you’ll need to find a great agent to help you. Many estate agents - especially those covering the major cities - have an online presence, and you can learn about them and their listings simply by visiting their website. However, it’s good to know that there are also great local estate agents which won’t necessarily put all their properties online - to find them, you’ll need to call into their office, and talk through your needs with an agent in person.

Another point to bear in mind is that online listings will often be in Portuguese. If you’re not confident in the language, you can also find English websites, run by agents who specialise in serving the expat community. These agents will likely have everything you need to find a home, and will have experience in helping overseas buyers too. However, you may well pay a premium for this service, in the form of higher commission or fees.

IMPIC - Instituto da Construcao e do Imobiliario

When you’re starting to research estate agents in Portugal, you’ll need to know how to pick out the professionals from the cowboys. One good way to do this is to request the AMI license number which is issued to all official real estate agents by the industry governing body, IMPIC.

Many companies will display their registration number online and in their offices, and should be happy to give you it if asked. Check it’s legitimate, by contacting IMPIC directly, and you can be sure the agent you’re dealing with has the right qualifications, approvals and insurance.¹

List of online estate agents websites

Ready to start finding an agent? If you’re looking to browse a large volume of properties, to get a feel for the market in the region you want to move to, try an umbrella site like Caso Sapo. Here there are listings for properties across the country, with many different estate agents featured. You’ll be able to then connect directly with the agent representing properties which interest you, when you’re ready.

Some estate agents in Portugal cover the entire country, but there are also plenty of local estate agents which specialise in one area only. Make sure you find an agent working in the region, and property type you need. Here are a few large estate agents in Portugal:

  • Portugal Property - find a variety of listings covering the whole country, and you can even call on a local number from the UK if you want to chat to an agent
  • Engel & Völkers - specialist in high end properties, covering popular tourist and expat areas. See their properties online, or by visiting one of their offices in the Algarve and beyond
  • Century 21 - large range of listings, including different property types and locations

The best estate agent will depend a lot on your personal preferences and needs. It’s a smart idea to think through what’s important to you before you start to compare estate agents. For example, do you need to find an agent with fluent English, or can you get by in Portuguese? Are you flexible about what days or times you view properties, or do you need an agent who will work evenings and weekends to help you? Are there other services you’ll need - like a Portuguese property lawyer - and do you want to find one firm which can provide an end to end package for you?

Once you have narrowed down your needs, you can compare agents, and come up with a shortlist of those which might fit the bill. Use umbrella websites to find local agents in your search area, or take recommendations from friends and family to get you started.

Make sure the agents you consider are AMI licensed, so you know you’re dealing with a pro. This also ensures you have recourse if something goes wrong, as you can complain to the licensing body if there are issues.

Typical estate agent fees in Portugal

When you’re arranging to buy, sell or rent a property in Portugal, it’s important to understand the costs involved. The fees you need to pay may not be the same as you’re used to in the UK.

Estate agent fees when selling a property are technically paid by the vendor, but they will usually simply add the cost of the charges onto the asking price for the property. This effectively transfers the costs to the buyer.

Service Estate agent fee
Estate agent commission - property sale Fees are negotiated, usually around 5-10% of the sale price achieved²
Costs when renting property Aside from any agent fees you may need to pay a security deposit - typically 2 months rent - and any other incidental fees for cleaning, inventory and other administration³
Other costs when buying property Ask your estate agent for the likely costs, taxes and fees based on the property type you’re buying. These could total 10%-15% of the value of the home. You may need to cover costs including:
  • Transfer tax or VAT
  • Notary, registration and legal fees
  • Mortgage fees
  • Survey costs
  • Utility connection fees⁴

Local estate agents: What should I know?

Your experience in buying or renting a property in Portugal will depend very much on where in the country you’re headed to. In the popular tourist areas, such as the Algarve and the Silver Coast, and the big cities which have larger expat communities, there are many estate agents which specialise in serving foreign clients. This means they’ll often speak English, and their agents will be used to the type of concerns an overseas buyer may have.

However, if you’re headed to a more rural area, the chances are that you’ll find yourself dealing with a local estate agent. These agents will have a fantastic wealth of local knowledge, but you might find that you have to physically call into an agency office rather than being able to search online for homes, and you may need a translator to help.

Questions to ask estate agents when selling or buying

When you’re choosing an estate agent you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the service they offer. Don’t sign up with an agent if you have any concerns about how they work, or whether they’ll be able to meet your needs. A good agent will always give you the answers and information you’re looking for, and won’t pressure you into doing anything you’re unhappy with.

Here are some questions to ask when selecting an agent to work with:

  • What’s your AMI number, and how long have you been established?
  • Which areas do you cover, and who is your typical customer?**
  • How do you advertise properties?
  • What’s the average length of time it takes to sell properties in this area?
  • What are your office opening hours, and when are viewings available?
  • How do you calculate the property valuations you use?

Estate agents rules and regulations

Although they may not be common, you also need to be aware of unlicensed estate agents taking advantage of foreign buyers in Portugal. This can mean you pay more than you need to - or at worst, simply lose the money you’ve spent on arranging your purchase.

Don’t get carried away with the excitement of buying a new home. Here are some simple precautions to take before you start to work with an estate agent in Portugal:

  • Choose an estate agent only after research. Friends, family or colleagues may recommend agents they’ve used, or you might find customer feedback online, or from expat groups on Facebook
  • Ask for the agent’s AMI number, and confirm it with IMPIC
  • Get to know the property prices in the area you’re considering, using online resources, to help you spot deals which seem too good to be true
  • If your agent tries to pressure you into making a quick decision, this should raise a red flag. Don’t rush into any decision unnecessarily
  • Once you’ve chosen a property you’ll need a local lawyer - shop around for this service, rather than automatically taking the recommendation of your agent

Buying a new property overseas is a big decision - whether it’s a new family home, a holiday pad, or an investment. The process will be much easier if you have a great estate agent on hand to walk you through it, so it’s well worth doing some research into the agents available in your area before you get started.

You’ll also want to take sensible steps to make sure you don’t spend more than you have to on your purchase. A multi-currency account from TransferWise can be a great way to get the funds you need for a deposit and fees, and is also a smart option to help you manage your money across currencies once you make the move to Portugal. See if TransferWise can help you save money, today.

Sources used:

1.https://www.portugalproperty.com/about-us/ami-licence-numbers-certificates-tips-for-dealing-with-estate-agents-in-portugal
2.https://www.propertyguides.com/portugal/buying/finding-right-estate-agent/
3.https://www.expatica.com/pt/housing/renting/guide-to-renting-in-portugal-and-your-tenant-rights-105529/
4.https://www.justlanded.com/english/Portugal/Portugal-Guide/Property/Fees
5.http://www.impic.pt/impic/

Sources checked on 16-May 2019.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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