Most new properties (particularly in the Algarve) are part of purpose-built developments, many of which are planned as holiday homes and may not be attractive as permanent homes. If you’re buying an apartment or house that’s part of a community development, check whether your neighbours will be mainly Portuguese or foreigners. Some foreigners don’t wish to live in a community consisting mainly of their fellow countrymen (or other foreigners) and this may also deter buyers when you wish to sell. On the other hand, some foreigners don’t want to live in a Portuguese community, particularly if they don’t speak Portuguese.
Prices of new properties vary considerably with their location and quality, from around €100,000 for a studio or one-bedroom apartment in a resort; from €130,000 for a two-bedroom apartment or from €150,000 in the case of a townhouse; from €150,000 for a three-bedroom apartment or townhouse; and from around €700,000 for a four-bedroom detached villa.
It’s often cheaper to buy a new home than an old property requiring modernisation or renovation, as the price is fixed, unlike the cost of renovation which can soar way beyond original estimates (as many people have discovered to their cost). If required, a new property can usually be let immediately and modern homes have good resale potential and are considered a good investment by Portuguese buyers. On the other hand, new homes may be smaller than older properties, have smaller gardens and rarely come with a large plot of land. New properties are covered by a warranty against structural defects.
Most new properties are sold by property developers ( promotor/ promovedor) or builders ( construtor), although they’re also marketed by estate agents. New developments usually have a sales office and a show house or apartment ( casa modelo). When a building is purchased off-plan, payment is made in stages as building work progresses.
Note that it’s important to ensure that each stage is completed satisfactorily before making payments. If you aren’t able to do this yourself, you should engage an independent representative (e.g. an architect or structural engineer) to do it on your behalf. It has been calculated that around half of all new properties have construction defects or deficiencies and in around a third of cases the contract conditions aren’t fulfilled, particularly regarding the completion date and the quality of materials used.
If you’re buying a property off-plan, you can usually choose your bathroom suite, kitchen, fireplace, wallpaper and paint, wall and floor tiles, and carpet in bedrooms, all of which may be included in the price. You may also be able to alter the interior room layout, although this will increase the price. It’s best to make any changes or additions to a property during the design stage, such as including a more luxurious kitchen, a chimney or an additional shower room, as they will cost much more to install later.
The quality of new property in Portugal has improved considerably in recent years and generally ranges from good to excellent. The best (and most expensive) properties are often built by foreign builders, possibly using quality imported materials and fittings such as doors, windows, and bathroom and kitchen suites, in order to ensure a high standard.
The quality of a building and the materials used will be reflected in the price, so when comparing prices ensure that you’re comparing similar quality. Cheaper properties aren’t usually the best built, although there are exceptions. If you want a permanent, rather than a holiday home, you’re better off opting for quality rather than quantity. The average price for new properties on the Algarve is between €500 to €1,750 per square metre, depending on the quality, plus the cost of land.
The word luxury is often used loosely by builders and developers in Portugal and should be taken with a pinch of salt (it should mean what you want it to mean).
A luxury apartment or townhouse should include some or most of the following: a full-size, fully fitted kitchen (possibly with a microwave, hob/oven with extractor hood, dishwasher, fridge/freezer and washing machine); a utility room; large bathrooms (often en suite to all bedrooms) with bidets and dressing areas; a separate shower room; air-conditioning and central heating (possibly under-floor) in the lounge and bedrooms; double glazing and shutters (possibly electric) on all windows; cavity walls (for sound deadening and cooling); one or more fireplaces; a wall safe; ceramic tiled floors in the kitchen and bathrooms, and marble-tiled floors in other rooms; fitted carpets in all bedrooms and dressing rooms; built-in mirror-fronted wardrobes in bedrooms; communal satellite TV; telephone outlets; 24-hour security and resident concierge; panic call buttons and intercom to a concierge; automatic lifts; basement car parking; and a lockable basement storage room.
Luxury properties that are part of a community also have a wide range of quality community facilities such as indoor (heated) and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and beautiful landscaped gardens. Some properties have an associated golf or country club with a golf course, tennis and squash courts, health spa, gymnasium, swimming pools, sauna, Jacuzzi, snooker and indoor bowling, plus a restaurant and bar.
Most new developments have their own sales offices, usually offering a full management and rental service for non-resident owners. If you wish to furnish a property solely for letting, furniture packages are available and are usually good value for money. The complete furnishing of a holiday home costs from around €3,000 for one bedroom, €3,500 for two bedrooms and €4,000 for three bedrooms, although if you require good quality or luxury fittings prices are considerably higher.
Resale ‘New’ Homes
Buying ‘new’ doesn’t necessarily mean buying a brand new home where you’re the first occupant. There are many advantages in buying a modern resale home which may include better value for money; an established development with a range of local services and facilities in operation; more individual design and style; the eradication of ‘teething troubles’; furniture and other extras included in the price; a mature garden and trees; and a larger plot of land.
With a resale property you can see exactly what you will get for your money (unlike when buying off-plan), most problems will have been resolved, and the previous owners may have made improvements or added extras (such as a swimming pool) which may not be fully reflected in the asking price.