Buying a house in Portugal?

I’m going to use the word ‘foreigner’ here, although I still think it’s an unflattering term, don’t know why, but it basically means anyone who is not from where they live or intends to live. In Portuguese it’s ‘estrangeiro’, but there are even weirder definitions in the dictionary – alien, alien, alien, neophyte, alien and my favorite – arriving. On the Isle of Man, anyone from the mainland is a “come-over”, I know, because I once was!

So, any “foreigner” lucky enough to consider buying a house anywhere in Portugal might be confused by some of the terms he encounters when looking through the windows of a real estate office.

“Quinta” is a term you rarely hear outside of Portugal, and I (as “estrangeiro”) thought it meant the same as “fazenda” (farm), but there is a subtle difference, a quinta being primarily rural property, especially those with historic mansions and palaces in mainland Portugal. The term is also used as a name for agricultural estates, such as cellars, vineyards and olive groves. These were rented out for a fifth of its produce – the fifth is quintus in Latin – hence they became known as quintas.

Another term that a potential buyer will come across is “T1, T2, V2” etc. T is generally used for an apartment, “V” for a house or a villa. The number indicates the number of bedrooms (eg T2 = 2 bedroom apartment; V4 = 4 bedroom house).

Casa / villa / moradia – all terms that mean “house”, and if it is semi-detached or on a terrace or a row, it will be called “germinada”, and a single house or bungalow will be “isolada”.

An apartment will be called “apartamento”, and if it is a ground floor apartment, it will be called “Rés-do-chão”, and the first floor will be “1o andar” or “primeiro andar “.

Other useful terms relate to water supply – “água de rede” means that the dwelling has running water, “furo” means that it has a borehole and “poço” means that it has a well. for water, with “cisterna” meaning reservoir water – where water is stored if the property has a water supply borehole.

Other confusing terms relate to outbuildings – “pocilgas” means pigsties or buildings with little agricultural use, but “armazem” means warehouse or storage shed.

You may need to know more about bathrooms (casa de banho), showers (chuveiro do banheiro), baths (banhos) and toilets (banheiros), maybe number of bedrooms (quartos to sleep ) of a house.

And outside, the garden (jardim) can have a swimming pool (piscina) or a garage (garagem) – and there are undoubtedly other terms that will be important, but luckily most real estate agencies in Portugal have English speakers on their staff, who would be more than happy to help.

One of the things that you will definitely need before buying here is a Portuguese fiscal (fiscal) number – número de contribinte – which can be obtained at the local tax office (Finanças). You will need to provide proof of your identity, current address, and information about the state of your finances. This tax number will also be needed to open a Portuguese bank account and to connect water, electricity, telephone, etc., once the purchase of your house is complete.

I am not in the business of buying or selling real estate, and I know there are millions of other questions that I cannot answer, but I hope the above information could be a starting point in your search for your ideal home!

About Lillian Coomer

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