A Facebook friend coming from the USA to spend ten days here hoped to accomplish much: He planned to travel the country, scouting and finding a suitable property … negotiate an acceptable offer … engage an attorney to review all the legalities of the process … and open a bank account where he could put 30% of the property’s purchase price down in cash and arrange to finance the rest, if he decided to buy not rent.
All that in ten days?
I had to laugh. After all, he’s talking about accomplishing all of this in Portugal (or Spain) within a week—counting weekends and holidays, when banks are closed. Say you want to buy a home in Portugal or Spain but haven’t yet started your residency application. Will banks and the government allow you to purchase the home before actually being granted residency status? If so, can you put down about 30% in cash and finance the rest?
People ask questions like these because, when they come to Spain or Portugal on a house-hunting trip and find the “right” property, they want to ensure they can proceed with a rental or purchase with all the right permits and none of the penalties.
Buying (or renting) a property has nothing whatsoever to do with whether (or not) you’ve been granted residency. Anyone can purchase property. Whether you can get financing and a mortgage for it is between you and the bank, however.
If you DO find a property that you like, you can’t just snap your fingers and make the purchase happen. First, of course, you’ll need to find the right property. Then you’ll work with the property agent (or directly with a seller) to negotiate and agree on an offer. That, alone, can take some time in Portugal and Spain! Once an offer is accepted, you’ll then want to engage the services of an attorney to do all the legal work — correctly and cost-effectively — on your behalf (you don’t have to be here if you designate power of attorney to a lawyer … best done while you are here). You’ll need to have an NIE/NIF and a bank account. You’ll need to apply for a mortgage. All this takes time …
We made a few trips to Portugal before purchasing our property. The offer was accepted after we had returned to the USA. We’d designated power of attorney to our lawyer, who handled everything for us. Then, when we applied for our residency visa (and permit), we submitted a copy of the deed to our property along with all the other paperwork. The powers-that-be liked that.
So, come for a purposeful vacation. Determine where you want to live. Look at properties. And make an offer, if you’re so moved, knowing that all will be worked on and resolved in due time.Then, go back home and relax, with visions of Iberia dancing in your head!
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.