Fees

Extra costs when buying property in Portugal

A variety of fees are payable when you buy a property in Portugal, which usually add between 10 and 15 per cent to the purchase price, which is higher than in many other EU countries.

Most fees are based on the ‘declared’ or fiscal value ( valor tributável) of the property, which was traditionally much lower than the actual price paid. However, the fiscal value of most properties has been reassessed in recent years and may now be close to actual market values. Buyers should beware of declaring a price that’s well below the actual value, for which there are stiff penalties. The fees payable when buying a property in Portugal may include the following:

  • transfer tax (resale properties only);
  • value added tax (new properties only);
  • notary’s fees;
  • legal fees;
  • deed registration fee;
  • surveyor’s fee (optional);
  • selling agent’s fees;
  • mortgage fees;
  • utility fees (new properties only).

Most taxes are paid by the buyer or are included in the price. Always ensure that you know exactly what the total fees will be before signing a contract. Note that transfer tax (SISA), notary and deed registration fees aren’t applicable when buying a property owned by an offshore company.

Transfer Tax (SISA)

SISA is one of Portugal’s most controversial taxes and over recent years successive governments have made plans for legislation to either abolish the tax altogether or to substantially reduce its rates. However, in spite of much publicity and many hours of parliamentary time, SISA rates are much as they ever were and look like remaining so for the immediate future. This does not mean to say, however, that SISA won’t be abolished in the future.

At present SISA is payable on all resale properties (i.e. any property that isn’t being sold for the first time) and is adjusted annually for inflation. In 2002 SISA rates were as shown in the table below:

Price (€)

SISA (%)

Deduction (€)

Up to 60,015

0

3,000

60,015 to 82,207

5

3,000

82,207 to 109,678

11

7,933

109,678 to 137,098

18

15,610

137,098 to 166,055

26

26,578

Over 166,055

10

none

Note that SISA isn’t based on a sliding scale and the rate shown applies to the whole of the value of the property. The appropriate deduction is made after multiplying the property value by the relevant percentage. For example, if the declared value of a property is €150,000, SISA is 26 per cent (€39,000) minus €26,578, which equals a SISA bill for €12,422 (around 8 per cent). For a property declared as costing €200,000, SISA would be €20,000 (10 per cent).

SISA is charged at a fixed rate of 8 per cent on rustic (rural) property where no construction exists. Rural land with ruins and uninhabitable buildings registered as ‘urban property’ attract SISA at the rate of 8 per cent on the land and at the usual rates on the construction.

Note, however, that it’s unusual for a ruin to be valued at more than 8 per cent and many ruins are valued at a lower rate or are SISA exempt. SISA is payable at usual rates on building plots and land for construction. SISA must be paid before the signing of the final deed of sale ( escritura) and is usually paid a few days earlier. The receipt must be presented to the notary at the completion and is retained by him (so obtain a copy for your records).

If the sale isn’t made in euros, a statement must be obtained from a local bank stating the rate of exchange for the SISA calculation. If you’re buying a new apartment or townhouse and are the first purchaser, a proportion of the original SISA paid on the land should be deducted from the SISA payable (but you must apply for this concession). If you pay SISA on a property you may not be required to pay property tax for a period, depending on the property’s rateable value.

Value Added Tax

Value added tax ( IVA) of 19 per cent is levied on new properties purchased from a developer or builder and being sold for the first time. VAT should be included in an advertised or agreed price and not added afterwards, but you should check this carefully.

Notary’s Fees

The fees for the notary who officiates at a sale are fixed by law and used to depend on the sale price. However, new legislation has introduced a fixed system under which notaries charge around €153 per transaction plus additional charges of €1.25 per amendment or clause in the document. There may also be other additional costs (usually small amounts).

Legal Fees

Legal fees for the conveyancing involved in a property sale are usually 1 to 2 per cent of the purchase price for an average property. The actual amount depends on the work involved, although there’s usually a minimum charge, e.g. €1,000. Fees, which should be agreed in writing beforehand, are much lower if a lawyer is engaged only to vet the sales contract. Engaging a lawyer and paying legal fees is optional, although it’s highly recommended.

Deed Registration Fee

The registration fees for registering a deed of sale at the land registry ( conservatória do registo predial) are approximately 0.75 to 1 per cent of the property’s value. The deed registration fee is paid to the notary with his fee for completing the sale.

Surveyor’s Fee

If you employ a surveyor to inspect a building or plot of land, the fee will depend on the type of survey, any special requirements and the value of the property. A homebuyer’s survey and valuation for a property valued at up to €200,000 is usually from around €550 and a full structural survey on the same property is around €800.

Selling Agent’s Fees

The selling agent’s fees are usually between 5 and 10 per cent of the selling price, depending on the cost of the property and the type of contract, and are paid by the vendor. However, they’re usually allowed for in the asking price, so in effect are paid by the buyer.

Utility Fees

If you buy a new property you may need to pay for electricity, gas and water connections, and the installation of meters. If they aren’t included in the price, you should ask the builder or developer to provide the cost of connection to all services in writing.

Mortgage Fees

Mortgage fees may include a commitment fee, an arrangement fee (usually 1 per cent of the loan amount), an administration fee (e.g. 1 per cent), and an appraisal or valuation fee.

This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Portugal. Click here to get a copy now.

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Other comments

  • James Lawrence, 17 February 2010 Reply

    Extras when buying property in Portugal

    Your information is irresponsibly misleading and out of date. SISA was dropped years ago! I have been involved in many property transactions in Portugal, and know that extras are usually around 4 - 5%, give or take.
    You know not the harm you do. Please get yourselves up-to-date!