Would You Buy This Property?

Would You Even Go to Look at It?

Often, it’s hard to understand the mentality of property agents in Portugal and Spain.

I mean, honestly, what were they thinking?

The photos linked above are actual representations of an actual property listed by an actual property agent and actually sent to me as a possible property in which I might be interested … the agent supposed.


It’s a different world out there selling properties in Portugal and Spain than in the USA and UK. But just as there are good, bad, and indifferent property agents on the west side of the pond, the same holds true for the east side–especially Portugal and Spain.

We have had some excellent agents in both countries who have gone out of their way to understand our needs (and wants), our budget, location, and property condition … they’ve been honest in telling us that, “There’s nothing we have for that price that meets your criteria,” or, “We have a property that might work for you, but it needs some work,” or, “You’re going to have to look outside that area for a place that is everything you want.”

Part of a property agent’s responsibility, we believe, is to advise and counsel clients that — before they can put their property on the market for sale — they need to clean and straighten it up … even to make a few fixes, inexpensive stuff like removing surface mold and adding a lick or two of paint.

Property agents must do more than charge clients a fee for hanging out a “For Sale” sign and listing the property on their websites. They must work with their clients, advising and showing them how to make the most of what they are trying to sell. And then, before clicking on the “Publish” button, they should take appropriate photos that accurately and honestly show the property in its honest but best possible reflection.

Yes, the photoss here are from a lower-priced property (€48K) in a smaller village off the beaten track … but, still, there is no excuse to present it with pictures like these.

Wouldn’t you wonder: If this is what I can see in this property, what about what I can’t see? What’s hiding inside the roof, behind the walls, under the floors?

Too many property listings are simply sloppily slapped together and thrown out there online, hoping that somebody, somewhere, might be interested in taking a closer look.

We’re not. Are you?

Shared here are personal observations, experiences, and happenstance that actually occurred to us as we moved from the USA to begin a new life in Portugal and Spain. Collected and compiled in EXPAT: Leaving the USA for Good, the book is available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook editions from Amazon and most online booksellers.

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2 thoughts on “Would You Buy This Property?

  1. Hi, Bruce! In fact, things may work a bit differently around here when compared with other countries. When I search for a property to buy, I usually look for something like the one in your link. I’ve even bought some in worst conditions than that. And when you have a property like that to sell, the agents are – sometimes – the ones to say “don’t spend money on renovations”. The reason being that when you are looking for cheap houses, usually you are looking for something to renovate yourself and make profit out of it, or just to make sure you will get THE house you really want. If you spend money in renovating a house to put it on the market afterwards, you will always find that potencial buyers will be disappointed with some of the decisions you have made, either aesthetic ones or purely functional. Besides that, there is the fact that some of those houses in small villages belong to one or more relatives (inherited from parentes, grandparents, etc.) and either they don’t have the money to renovate, they live too far away (Lisbon, usually) to be able to oversee the renovation works, or they don’t speak to each other (a very common case). Anyways, shiny properties with great pictures are definitely a selling point, but not necessarily a viable path for most of the properties/sellers you see on Idealista 😉 Cheers.

    • Excellent points, João. Thanks! This post was particularly addressed and written for people from the USA and UK who are just making the move to Portugal or Spain. Their needs, expectations, wants, and want-nots are very different than yours or mine. While a few have the vision, the patience — and the time — to reimagine a “ruina” or deteriorated property, most are looking for “move-in ready” properties in which only minor “cosmetic” work is needed. After a while, however, they (we) may become more adventurous and willing to take on the challenges of a decrepit property, an estranged family of sellers, or long distance oversight. 🙂 Muito obrigado, amigo!

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