South of Lisbon, the Alentejo, or Blue Coast, has been “discovered” for several years, but remains undeveloped due to the financial climate, so you can choose between unrenovated property at very low prices, or a few classy new-builds such as|the Pinheirinho Hyatt Resort, with apartments from €240,000.
Further north past Lisbon is the Silver Coast, where the rolling hills, vineyards and olive trees meet the Atlantic in hundreds of kilometres of sandy beaches. Apartments (and smaller townhouses) start at €100,000 to €150,000, villas from €250,000.
Madeira is a closer alternative to the Canary Islands with a well-integrated UK community. Basic villas are €250,000, with pool and sea views from €450,000. Apartments are from €90,000 but restricted development and topographical limits have dented supply.
There are two stages to the buying process. The first is the promissory contract (contrato de promessa de compra e venda) between buyer and seller, on the condition of the property.
A deposit is normally paid at this time, usually from 10-25 per cent of the purchase price. Following this, the lawyer does searches and checks for encumbrances or mortgages on the property.
The second part of the transaction is the escritura de compra e venda, or final deed, and this is the point at which the property ownership is transferred to the buyer. As with the promissory contract, it is signed in front of the notary (notario). The final contract is then sent to the Land Registry.
The biggest cost is property transfer tax (IMT), paid on properties over €92,407 on a sliding scale from 2-8 per cent. Notary, admin and registration fees are 1.5-2.5 per cent, and legal fees 1-2 per cent, of the purchase price. The seller pays the estate agency fees.
You'll also need to find the most cost-effective, safe and easy way to move your money to Portugal to complete your purchase. Bank charges and fluctuating exchange rates can both have an impact on your overall cost - but you can save up to 4% of the cost by working with a specialist currency firm. They can help you achieve currency exchange rates better than the banks, and reduce the risk of your international payments increasing.
On a £100,000 exchange, a currency specialist can save you up to £4,000 by providing better rates compared to your high street bank. Click here to read more, or here to download your free guide to saving money on your purchase.
Ensure that your lawyer checks that plans of the property held by the local authorities that refer specifically to the property agree with the existing construction. You should request from your local lawyer a report on title, stating that the property is free of any charges (or that such charges will be removed before completion) and you should also seek advice on the planning rules for the area.