Navigating the intricacies of Portugal’s real estate market can be a daunting task, especially for foreigners looking to invest in this vibrant country. From understanding local laws and regulations to ensuring a smooth transaction process, the expertise of a Portugal real estate lawyer is invaluable. 

In this article, we’ll explore the essential role that these legal professionals play in assisting foreign investors, providing insights into the complexities of property acquisition and ownership in Portugal.

Portugal Real Estate Lawyer

A Portugal Real Estate Lawyer plays a crucial role in guiding clients through the complexities of real estate transactions, offering legal expertise and ensuring that their interests are protected at every step of the process. 

As registered members of the Portuguese Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados), these lawyers are held to high professional standards and ethical conduct, providing clients with assurance and peace of mind. By verifying a lawyer’s registration on the bar’s website, clients can confirm their credentials and trust in their legal representation with confidence.

Portugal Real Estate Lawyer vs Solicitor

In Portugal, the terms “lawyer” and “solicitor” are often used interchangeably, but there are some distinctions between the two roles.

A lawyer (advogado) in Portugal is a legal professional who is qualified to provide legal advice, represent clients in court, and handle legal matters such as drafting contracts, negotiating settlements, and providing legal opinions. They are registered members of the Portuguese Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados) and are authorized to practice law in Portugal.

A solicitor (solicitador) in Portugal is also a legal professional, but their role is more focused on administrative and procedural aspects of legal matters. They typically handle tasks such as drafting legal documents, submitting applications to government agencies, and providing assistance with administrative procedures. Solicitors often work closely with lawyers to support their clients’ legal needs.

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The role of a Portugal Real Estate Lawyer

Acquiring a property or investing in a real estate project can be a complex endeavor, influenced by factors such as transaction nature, property type, and legal considerations. In Portugal, Real Estate Lawyers play a crucial role in navigating this complexity.

Before clients make any purchase or commitment, a Portugal Real Estate Lawyer conducts three stages to ensure the security of the investment. This includes comprehensive assessment and legal scrutiny, not only of the property or project in question but also throughout the entire investment process until completion.

1. Due diligence

Investment/property due diligence is the process of thoroughly evaluating an investment property before purchase. The investor assesses the property’s commercial potential and purchase risks through this process.

This procedure is intended to evaluate the legal conditions and characteristics of the property, it’s compliance with existing or required licenses, the existence of encumbrances or liens, and also to confirm ownership of the property.

To achieve this, there are several key elements that must be collected and analyzed, namely:

  • Property Registration Certificate
  • Legal Description of the Property (“Caderneta Predial”)
  • Permission to Use (“License of Use”)
  • Housing Technical Sheet
  • Energy Performance Certificate
  • Floor Plans
  • Condominium Regulations (if any)

2. The Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale

After the due diligence of the property is completed, it is common to enter into a Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale. This is a preliminary and non-binding agreement, in which both parties undertake to conclude a certain contract, agreeing to the respective terms.

The most common clauses in a Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale are those referring to the deadline for concluding the definitive contract, the form of payment, the deposit and any additional payments, the conditions to which the parties intend to subject the business, and also declarations and guarantees of the parties.

Promissory contracts often include clauses about breach consequences, like penalties or enforcement measures. It is, in basic terms, a prior contract, intended to regulate the terms and conditions of the definitive contract. The Promissory Contract of Purchase and Sale will include the in-person certification of the parties’ signatures.

3. The Public Deed of Purchase and Sale

The Public Deed of Purchase and Sale is the act by which ownership of the property is transferred and can be celebrated by public deed before a notary – the most common form – or by private document authenticated by a lawyer.

Once the Public Deed of Purchase and Sale is signed, the property must be registered in the buyer’s name at the Land Registry, and the notary or lawyer must inform the Tax Authority of the purchase and sale. After the transfer is registered in the Property Registry, the transfer of ownership is completed.

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Criteria for choosing a Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal

When selecting a real estate lawyer, it’s important to consider the following criteria:


Look for a lawyer with specialized expertise in real estate law, particularly in Portugal. They should have a strong understanding of local regulations, procedures, and market dynamics.


Research the lawyer’s reputation within the legal community and among past clients. Look for reviews, testimonials, and references to gauge their professionalism, reliability, and ethical standards.


Opt for a lawyer who communicates effectively and promptly responds to your inquiries. Clear and transparent communication is essential for understanding the legal process and making informed decisions.

Language Skills

Consider a lawyer who is fluent in your language or has access to translation services. Effective communication in your preferred language can facilitate a smoother and more efficient legal process.

Fee Structure

Discuss the lawyer’s fee structure upfront and ensure it aligns with your budget and expectations. Transparency regarding fees and expenses is crucial for avoiding misunderstandings and managing costs.

Real Estate Lawyer Fee Structure

The fee structure of a real estate lawyer in Portugal can vary depending on the specific services requested. Typically, these fees may range between 1% to 1.5% (plus VAT) of the property purchase price. However, it’s essential to note that the exact percentage may be influenced by factors such as the complexity of the transaction, the lawyer’s experience, and the scope of legal assistance required. 

Therefore, it’s advisable to discuss the fee structure upfront with your chosen lawyer to ensure clarity and transparency regarding costs.

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Frequently asked questions about Portugal Real Estate Lawyer

What does a Portugal Real Estate Lawyer do?

Portugal Real Estate Lawyers assist clients with legal matters related to buying, selling, or investing in real estate in Portugal. They provide legal advice, handle transactions, review contracts, and ensure compliance with local regulations.

Why do I need a Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal?

A Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal can help protect your interests, ensure legal compliance, and navigate the complexities of real estate transactions in a foreign country. They provide expertise and guidance throughout the process, helping to mitigate risks and avoid potential pitfalls.

How do I choose the right Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal?

When selecting a Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal, consider factors such as their expertise, experience, reputation, communication skills, and fee structure. It’s important to choose a lawyer who understands your needs and can effectively represent your interests.

What services do Real Estate Lawyers in Portugal offer?

Real Estate Lawyers in Portugal offer a range of services, including legal advice, contract review, due diligence, title searches, transaction management, and representation in legal proceedings related to real estate matters.

How much does it cost to hire a Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal?

The cost of hiring a Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the transaction, the lawyer’s experience, and the services required. However it may range from 1 to 1,,5% of the purchase amount. It’s advisable to discuss fees and fee structures with potential lawyers upfront to ensure transparency and avoid surprises.

Can a Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal assist with property disputes?

Yes, Real Estate Lawyers in Portugal can assist with property disputes, including disputes over ownership, boundaries, contracts, and landlord-tenant issues. They can provide legal advice, negotiate settlements, and represent clients in court if necessary.

How can I find a reputable Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal?

You can find a reputable Real Estate Lawyer in Portugal through referrals from friends or colleagues, online research, or professional associations such as the Portuguese Bar Association (Ordem dos Advogados). It’s important to research potential lawyers and schedule consultations to discuss your needs and evaluate their suitability for your case.