An ‘air bridge’ between the UK and Portugal could soon be in place, which means it might finally be time for a viewing trip! But how do you organise a successful trip, and what should you look for when seeing properties?
Going on a property viewing trip to Portugal is an exciting step towards a new life.
Whether you’re planning a permanent move, or buying a holiday home or investment property, it all starts to feel very real once you head off on that viewing trip. This article will help you make your trip both enjoyable and productive.
A viewing trip to Portugal is about more than just looking at properties. It’s the perfect time to begin experiencing the country “like a local.” Hopefully it will set the scene for lots of inspiring and sun-drenched times ahead.
Find out more about arranging a trip to see properties with our free guide, Your Viewing Trip.
What kind of viewing trip to Portugal should you arrange?
Broadly speaking, there are three ways to arrange your viewing trip:
- Going completely solo, with accommodation and appointments you arrange yourself, and a self-managed itinerary.
- Arranging a trip with a trusted agent. You will generally arrange your flight, but the agent may provide accommodation, and will almost always help you with transport between properties.
- Taking part in an organised and heavily-subsidised trip. Usually to a specific resort, these trips can involve a lot of hard sell, and little freedom to explore the country in the way that most appeals to you.
For many, a trip arranged together with a trusted agent provides the best middle ground. While an entirely self-arranged trip has its benefits, it can also prove quite challenging, especially if you don’t speak any Portuguese.
Planning your strategy
Before you even book your flights, there are some things you should take into account.
Consider the following:
- Is everybody who will live in or use the property involved in the trip? At the very least, it makes sense for the “decision makers” to all be present.
- Do you already have a clear idea of the area where you wish to purchase your home? There’s huge variation between different regions of the Algarve, let alone all of Portugal. The more you’ve familiarised yourself with Portugal in the past, the more focussed you can make your trip.
- Are you going on a viewing trip to Portugal, or a holiday? Trying to combine both, without thinking it through, can mean making a poor job of both. If you do wish to combine your viewing trip with some rest and relaxation, make sure you allow plenty of time. Perhaps think about dedicating some days to property hunting, and the remainder to your holiday.
Most importantly, remember that although visiting lots of potential homes in the sun is inspiring and fun, there’s also a lot to take in. As well as getting a general feel for each property, you’ll also need to consider practicalities, and look in detail at things like water pressure, boundaries and appliances.
With this in mind, it makes sense sticking to a rule of not trying to see more than five to seven properties each day.
It can be a good idea to stick to seeing no more than five to seven properties a day.
Taking the children?
This raises a very valid question, if you have children – should you take them with you?
Obviously the answer will vary from family to family. However, one thing to think about is that the answer to the question will depend a lot on their ages. Getting in and out of a car seat dozens of times, especially in the summer heat, is no fun for toddlers, and certainly no fun for their parents!
You can still move to Portugal after the transition period. Learn how in the free Guide to Living in Portugal After Brexit.
At the other end of the scale, teenagers may be just as excited as you are about seeing their potential homes.
There’s no hard and fast rule, but think about what the experience will really be like when children are involved. A viewing trip to Portugal is very different to visiting the country for beaches and ice creams.
What to look out for
There are many things you’ll want to look out for when viewing each property. You may wish to make use of our worksheets and checklists to guide you through the process.
Obviously general gut feel is very important, but structural checks and practical questions are crucial too. For example, you will want to ensure that you:
- Check for signs of damp.
- Look for cracks in walls or any other structural issues.
- Ask about property boundaries, communal areas and condominium fees.
- Verify parking arrangements.
- Check utilities and services, such as electricity, gas, water, sewage and broadband availability.
- Have a look at the local area and amenities.
- Find out about your neighbours, and the district in general.
Obviously, this is FAR from an exhaustive list, and other factors could be particularly important to you. There will be additional questions if there’s a pool, if you plan to rent the home out, or if there’s land to plan to tend or develop.
One possible strategy is to look at each of your “long list” of properties more superficially to begin with. Eliminate those you don’t like, and then really delve into the detail on those that remain.
Factors specific to Portugal
Much of the advice above could apply equally to a viewing trip in any country. However, here are a few “Portugal specific” things you should keep in mind:
- Some areas of Portugal can be hugely seasonal, especially in seaside resorts. Make sure to find out what you can expect of an area all year round, not just at the time you’re visiting.
- Plots of land and ruins for renovation are often sold complete with architects’ plans, but these don’t remain valid forever. Ensure you probe on exactly what permissions are in place, and how long they remain valid for.
Plots of land and ruins for renovation are often sold complete with architects’ plans, but make sure to find out how long they’re valid for.
- If you’re buying on a development with shared facilities, be sure to ask how they’re managed. Service charges can vary significantly, as can the arrangements for maintaining the facilities. Neglected pools and common areas are rare nowadays, but it’s good to be sure.
- It’s important to find out exactly what amenities you have on the doorstep. That secluded villa may seem very appealing, but it’s good to know exactly what kind of drive will be involved if you need to stock up on provisions or visit a doctor.
- Some areas of Portugal are home to many overseas residents. Others offer more of an “authentic” experience, but will require you to speak Portuguese and perhaps alter your lifestyle a little more. It’s wise to be honest and realistic with yourself about which most appeals to you when choosing areas to focus on.
Speak to agents face to face before going out on a viewing trip by coming to the next Your Overseas Home in Manchester on 25th April. Get your free tickets while they last.
Living like a local on your viewing trip to Portugal
One thing a viewing trip to Portugal does provide is the opportunity to live like a local there, perhaps for the first time.
If you have the choice of a hotel or a rented house or apartment, opt for the latter. And while you’ll no doubt want to enjoy some restaurants, try to shop in local shops and supermarkets, and do some self-catering too.
This process of acclimatisation will teach you a lot about the country, and a lot about what you want from your home there.
The most important thing
The best piece of advice is to take your time, and not allow yourself to be rushed. The offer you eventually put down should feel RIGHT. If it doesn’t, perhaps you need more time and more consideration.
Portugal has a tremendous amount to offer, and different towns, resorts and villages offer varied feels and lifestyles. Buying an overseas property should be an enjoyable and exciting experience. So slow down to Portuguese pace, and enjoy every moment.
The Viewing Trip Guide is designed to support you through the process of a successful property viewing trip, with tips and information on the most important steps to take. The guide will help you to: