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Buying a home in Portugal - don’t forget the Chartered Surveyor

Buying a home in Portugal - don’t forget the Chartered SurveyorYou and your partner have just finished the viewing of what seems like your dream house in Portugal or Spain. The owners were charming and the agent answered all the questions you had. Now, the agent is telling you, you have to sign the reservation form, and pay the deposit because there’s a lot of interest in the property. Your blood pressure goes up a notch because can’t wait to secure it, and would hate it if another buyer came along and snapped it up from under your nose.

Despite the pressure from the agent and fear of losing the property, now is the time to hold your nerve. You can tell the agent you really like the property but you need a couple of days to think about it. Then you have to act fast. During this time don’t sign the reservation form, which will not be in your native language, and resist any pressure to pay a non-refundable deposit. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to get in touch the two professionals you will Stan Dickens, FRICSneed to protect your interest in the buying process. As everybody knows, one of these will be a lawyer, but far less people think about a Chartered Surveyor, who should be employed right at the start. One such Chartered Surveyor, who undertakes building surveys in Portugal and Spain, is Stan Dickens, FRICS (www.standickens.com) who is very experienced and happy to chat you through any issues before you contract a survey.

It seems that when buying a home in Portugal or Spain, the dream of living in these two beautiful sunny countries, sweeps many people off their feet. They see things through rose tinted spectacles and are sure that luck will be on their side, and nothing serious could possibly go wrong. The agent will tell them, that in Portugal or Spain, buyers don’t have surveys so why should they either? But remember, in the UK these same home buyers wouldn’t hesitate to employ a Chartered Surveyor to undertake a Condition Report or Building Survey, so why abandon those good practices here?

So what problems might a survey in Portugal or Spain reveal about the property? Broadly speaking the potential problems can be divided between legal matters and structural / maintenance issues.

Legal matters, that are quite common, include illegal extensions, unlicensed swimming pools and garages and unclear site boundaries, meaning that you might get less land than you think. Since your lawyer will not usually visit the property they have to rely on the surveyors’ report for the area calculations of the land plot and structures and compare them with the legal documentation to check that everything is as it should be. The surveyor will often comment on this to.

Structural or maintenance items are what most people think of when employing a surveyor. And they are right. Defects are mentioned in the report, together with cost estimates for putting things right. This is very useful information and can be used to negotiate a discount on the price, often far more than the cost of the survey itself. Of course, if any structural defects are too onerous you may well decide to withdraw from the transaction and look for an alternative property.

So how do you find a good lawyer and competent surveyor? One way to find these two professionals, is to ask for recommendations from trusted friends who have been through the process themselves. You can also usually find a trusted local lawyer on British Consulate web sites which usually has a list. However, the British Consulate in Portugal and Spain do not have lists of Chartered Surveyors and you will therefore have to rely on recommendations or an internet search. Whichever way you do it, you should know that there are a number of “surveyors” offering their services in Portugal and Spain, but many of them are not regulated. Therefore, the best professional for the job will be a Chartered Surveyor, and you check them out on the RICS website. Happy house hunting!

W: https://www.villasurveyors.com


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