Buying real estate in Portugal?

We've created a guide to help you avoid pitfalls, save time, and make the best long-term investment possible.

Understand the title deed when buying a property in Portugal

Last updated on 

All sources have been thoroughly verified for credibility. Furthermore, a local real estate expert has reviewed and approved the final article.

risks pitfalls buying real estate Portugal

Everything you need to know is included in our Portugal Property Pack

Exploring property investment in Portugal is intriguing. The country has diverse options, including Algarve villas, historic homes, and city apartments with growth potential.

However, for international buyers, navigating the complexities of the Portuguese real estate market can be quite challenging, especially when it comes to verifying the authenticity and legality of the Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda, which is the official title deed in Portugal.

We have actually covered this specific document (among others, like the sales contract) in our property pack for Portugal.

In this article, we will give some insight to ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transaction in Portugal.

However, please do not forget that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that we are not legal experts. It's always advisable to consult with one. They can indeed thoroughly examine your specific situation and provide you with the most appropriate and tailored advice.

What is the Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda in Portugal?

The "Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda," often simply called "Escritura," is a crucial document in Portuguese real estate transactions.

It's essentially a public deed that officially records the sale and transfer of property from one party to another. This document is notarized and registered, making it a formal and legally binding record of the property's ownership.

What sets the Escritura apart from other property documents in Portugal is its legal standing and comprehensive nature.

While other documents like the "Contrato de Promessa de Compra e Venda" (Promissory Contract of Sale and Purchase) might be used in the preliminary stages of a property transaction to secure the agreement, the Escritura is the final, definitive record.

Once the Escritura is signed and registered, the buyer becomes the official owner of the property. This means they have the full legal right to use, enjoy, and dispose of the property.

The Escritura is a highly reliable document due to its formal notarization and registration. It's essential for proving ownership, which is particularly important when dealing with any legal matters related to the property, like disputes or claims.

However, it's worth noting that the Escritura itself doesn't guarantee the physical condition or the legal compliance of the property; it merely records the ownership transfer.

In terms of rights not conferred by the Escritura, it doesn't inherently assure the absence of liens, encumbrances, or other legal burdens on the property. Buyers usually conduct due diligence before signing the Escritura to ensure there are no such issues.

For resale and inheritance, the Escritura plays a central role. When reselling the property, the owner will need to provide this document to complete the transaction.

For foreign investors, the Escritura is also crucial as it's the key document proving their ownership, which is necessary for any future transactions or legal processes, including inheritance. In the event of the owner's death, the Escritura is vital for the legal transfer of the property to the heirs.

Get the full checklist for your due diligence in Portugal

Don't repeat the same mistakes others have made before you. Make sure everything is in order before signing your sales contract.

buying property foreigner Portugal

How to verify a title deed in Portugal?

The process

In Portugal, the "Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda" is a crucial document in real estate transactions. I

t's the official deed that records the transfer of property ownership. Verifying its authenticity is essential to ensure a secure transaction. Here's how you can go about it:

Firstly, the verification process typically involves the Portuguese Land Registry (Conservatória do Registo Predial). This is where all property transactions are recorded. You should request a certificate (Certidão de Teor) from the Land Registry, which provides detailed information about the property and confirms the legitimacy of the Escritura.

This document includes the property's history, current ownership, and any encumbrances or liens against the property.

Notaries in Portugal also play a significant role. They are responsible for preparing and certifying the Escritura. You can approach the notary who handled the transaction to verify the document's details.

The notary's office keeps a copy of all transactions they process, so they can cross-check the Escritura against their records.

Engaging a lawyer, especially one specializing in real estate law, is highly advisable. They can guide you through the legal intricacies of the property transaction process in Portugal.

A lawyer can help you understand the content of the Escritura, ensure that all legal requirements are met, and assist in verifying its authenticity.

While real estate agents are essential in helping find properties and negotiate deals, their role in verifying legal documents like the Escritura is limited.

However, experienced agents should be able to guide you through the general process and may identify potential red flags based on their industry knowledge.

When verifying an Escritura, be cautious of certain red flags. If the seller is overly eager to close the deal quickly without proper documentation or if the property price is significantly below market value, it's a sign to investigate further.

Always cross-check the names and identification details on the Escritura with the seller's identity documents.

Discrepancies in property descriptions, boundaries, or missing previous ownership records are also warning signs.

What to check

Understanding the property title deed ('Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda') in Portugal is crucial when dealing with real estate transactions.

This document is the official proof of your property's ownership and contains essential information like the property's description, the identity of the parties involved, and the transaction details.

To access and trace the property's history records, you should start with the Land Registry (Conservatória do Registo Predial).

Here, you can request a 'Certidão Permanente', which is a permanent record detailing the history of transactions, ownerships, and any registered charges or encumbrances on the property.

Understanding the property's past ownerships and transactions is important because it reveals the legal path of ownership, ensuring that the seller has the right to sell and that there are no disputes or legal issues associated with the property.

Checking for outstanding debts or liens is a vital step. In Portugal, debts or liens against a property can be attached to it, meaning they transfer with the property to the new owner.

To check for these, request a 'Certidão de Teor' from the Land Registry, which provides information on any registered encumbrances like mortgages, liens, or fiscal obligations.

If such encumbrances exist, they can impact your use and ownership of the property and could potentially lead to financial liabilities.

Verifying the accuracy of the property's measurements and boundaries as stated in the title deed is also essential. Discrepancies in these details can lead to disputes with neighbors or legal issues.

For this, compare the information in the title deed with the actual physical boundaries of the property. If there are discrepancies, they can be resolved through a land survey conducted by a licensed surveyor, followed by updating the records at the Land Registry.

Lastly, understanding zoning laws and land use restrictions is critical. These laws dictate what you can and cannot do with your property.

To find out about these restrictions, contact the local municipal office (Câmara Municipal). They provide information on zoning laws, building regulations, and any other restrictions or rights associated with the property.

This information is crucial as it influences your ability to make changes to the property and can significantly affect its value.

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Portugal, you might want to check it out.

Don't sign a Portuguese document you don't understand

Buying a property in Portugal? We have reviewed all the documents you need to know. Stay out of trouble - grab our comprehensive guide.

buying property foreigner Portugal

How to update the title deed after the property transaction in Portugal?

When you purchase a property in Portugal, the process of updating the title deed, known as 'Escritura Pública de Compra e Venda', is a crucial step.

After the sale agreement, you need to visit a notary public to formalize the transaction. This involves the preparation and signing of the 'Escritura', a document that legally transfers the ownership from the seller to you.

The notary will ensure all necessary checks are done, like confirming the seller’s ownership and ensuring there are no outstanding debts on the property.

Once the 'Escritura' is signed, it must be registered with the Portuguese Land Registry (Conservatória do Registo Predial). This registration is essential as it legally establishes you as the new owner and is public record.

The notary can often handle this process, or you can do it yourself. It’s important to ensure this step is completed, as failure to register the property could lead to legal complications.

After the purchase, considering insurance and additional protections is wise. Property insurance is essential, covering damages from events like fires or natural disasters.

Liability insurance is also advisable, protecting you from claims if someone is injured on your property. These insurances provide peace of mind and financial protection.

For foreign owners, understanding inheritance laws concerning the property is crucial. Portuguese inheritance laws can be complex, especially for non-residents.

In Portugal, there are mandatory inheritance rules where certain portions of your estate must go to your family members, like your spouse and children.

However, Portugal recognizes foreign wills, so you can specify in your will according to your country's laws how your Portuguese property should be handled.

It’s advisable to consult with a legal expert in Portuguese property law to understand how these rules apply to your specific situation.

Owning property in Portugal can be a rewarding investment, but it's vital to navigate these legal processes carefully to ensure your rights and investment are protected.

Make a profitable investment in Portugal

Better information leads to better decisions. Save time and money. Download our guide.

buying property foreigner Portugal

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.