Buying a house in Portugal as a foreigner – interacting with realtors

Buying a house in Portugal as a foreigner - interacting with realtors

If you are new to this story – see the previous parts here

Sending emails to realtors & how things work in Portugal

I started sending emails to the realtors but also to anyone who had a house to sell in the area of the resort. At the time, we didn’t actually understand which areas are part of the resort and what areas are near the resort, but not part of it. Because, a lot of people are advertising their house as being part of the resort, when they aren’t. And of course, the prices were so different and we didn’t understand why. Why some properties were so cheap comparing to others in virtually “the same place”. Because being in the area of a resort, it’s not the same as being part of it.

I basically sent a bunch of emails – 20,30, 40 emails, but maybe I got five or six emails back. This was because of how things are happening in Portugal, and especially in the real estate market.

Everything is moving very slowly in Portugal! And you have to add the fact that if the other party considers that you are not of interest to them, they are not even bothered to respond to your email.

I was going to find out later that the area I was looking to buy in,  was the most expensive area in Algarve, but the apartment I was looking to purchase, was the cheapest you can find in that resort. It is an area in this resort that has apartments that are the cheapest you can find there, and the rest of the resort has only villas and apartments of millions and millions of euros. So you see, the realtors were not interested in working in that area, for my budget. It’s just not worth the trouble!

But know also that in Portugal things are moving very slowly and if you want something to be done, you have to insist and insist, because nobody is going to care about your problem, even if you want to buy something as expensive as a house.

It was necessary to go back

So by now it’s September 2018 and we weren’t getting anywhere with the realtors via email. We decided to purchase a holiday package in this resort, because we thought: if we are going to make such a big investment in that area, we have to experience the life there, to be sure that this is what we want.

We purchased this package from the resort itself, not from Airbnb, which I highly recommend you do if you want to stay in Vale do Lobo. You have so many more perks buying directly from them, not to mention special prices and packages. We got access to all the resort amenities, like the resort bus, the pools, the beach. We wanted to experience that life as it was if we were living there.

We also booked an apartment with only one bedroom (that is called a T1). I was starting to understand (conversing with the realtors and looking at the prices) that the property I was looking to purchase it was way way above my budget. The only solution was to downsize to one bedroom and so I booked one bedroom for our vacation, to see if we can actually live in it.

Another reason for going back was to establish some real, face to face connections with the realtors. We discovered that realtors didn’t take you seriously if you are not in Portugal, to shake their hands and arrange viewings of the property in real time.

So if you say: “Okay, I’m in this country and I’m coming in two months in Portugal” they are just not going to take you seriously. If you are saying: “I’m here now I want to see a house tomorrow“, they are responding more quickly and promptly.

The first realtor that give us the time of day was a lady who showed us the area, explained us the difference between buying inside the resort Vale do Lobo, buying in Quinta do Lago or in the near vicinity like Quadradinhos (an area very close to Vale do Lobo but not being part of the resort). And if you don’t know the area, you really can’t make the difference, because all these areas seem like they go together, they are not really gated with big fences to establish the property line. Don’t get me wrong, they are fenced and gated and guarded 24/7, but not in an invasive way, with big stony walls.

She explained us that we don’t have to pay her anything for her services, that she is going to be paid by the seller. We were amazed by this information, because in our country both seller and buyer pays a fee to the realtor, but not in Portugal! In Portugal only the seller pays the fee to the realtor.

She explained us also about the prices in the area and it became clear that for our budget, there is no way, I mean, no way we can buy anything in the resort.

She started to insist that we should see other areas. So we saw also Quadradinhos. Us seeing other apartments was a very good experience, because it convinced me even more that I don’t want to be anywhere else but in Vale do Lobo.

We just didn’t have the money for Vale do Lobo

But still, it was the problem of budget and she was right. Our budget was about 100.000 euro or 150.000 euro. I thought that I could purchase a house in Portugal with those money in that area, but found out that you can’t purchase even a studio at this price, let alone 1 or 2 bedrooms.

We just didn’t have the money. We got back home and I knew that it was either start looking in other areas of Algarve, in other resorts, or back to looking in other countries altogether.

I was very disappointed because I really thought this was the trip in which we are going to find the apartment we are going to buy.  Not really putting in an offer, but kind of establish what we want to buy. But actually, this was the trip in which we found out that we cannot buy anything!

We thought of waiting three of four years, raise more money and than see. Other than that, we didn’t see any solution at the time.

I’m going to stop here the story and continue in another post this saga. But let’s stay in touch, write me your questions and experiences and see you in the next chapter of this story! Meaning here!