Hello from Portugal!

I'm spending a few days staying with friends in the Eastern Algarve and meeting up with my estate agent in Portugal.

Hello from Portugal!
With Fabio in Silves

I'm currently spending a few days staying with friends in the Eastern Algarve while I clear up an outstanding matter dating back four decades - the sale of a piece of rural land which I bought with my ex-husband.

My estate agent in Portugal, Fabio Reis, has been amazing. Fabio works as an independent self-employed estate agent in the Re/Max group, which is similar to the network I used to belong to (eXp). Each estate agent works independently, but with the backing of his colleaugues, and in the case of Re/Max, a local office 'hub'. That means that you deal with one person throughout your transaction, rather than being passed around the office between the valuer, the negotiators, the sales progressor and even the Saturday temp! Fabio is also a qualified freelance civil engineer, so he is well equipped to give additional specialist advice when required.

Buyer's Agents

Portugal's property industry is something of a cross between the UK and US models of estate agency. In the UK there is a clear contract where the estate agent works only for the seller, but in Portugal it is quite common for a separate estate agent to work for the buyer and search for properties on their behalf. Fabio says that in his experience some buyers want to feel connected to an agent when searching for a house, but others prefer to be independent. He says, "I am very loyal when I find a connection, and it motivates me to work even harder."

If you use a buyer's agent to help you find a property, you should always sign a contract to that effect. If you don't, however lovely, kind and helpful the agent may seem, in reality they will be working in the sellers' interests, not yours, and you will have no protection.

Commissions

Just like in the UK, the seller pays commission to their estate agent. If a buyer's agent is also involved, the seller's agent may share the commission with them. This split is often 50/50, but it may vary. When Fabio introduces a buyer to another agent's property, and it's not one of his usual partners, he will always check what arrangement is on offer. He might decide to not deal with certain agents, and he's careful to rule out any who are not willing to work openly, honestly, and collaboratively with him and his buyers.

Check your contract with your buyer's agent carefully. In some cases, if the buyer's agent does not receive a commission share from the seller's agent, they may request a contribution from you. Each case is different, so be careful what you sign up to. It is not unusual for the option or right to charge this compensation to be written into the contract, (for Re/Max it is written as an option), but each company, local office, and estate agent may have their own policy.

Off-Market Properties

Another difference in the Portuguese market is that not all property for sale is advertised on the open market or on the property portals. A buyer's agent can make enquiries on your behalf, focussing on any area which interests you, and they may even be able to source off-market property.

The market

Fabio told me that the market in the Algarve is rather erratic at the moment - prices are high, but the area is suffering from the aftermath of Covid and economic uncertainity, a bit like the UK. Just like in England, some sellers have become over-excited and over-optimistic due to the rise they have seen in marketing prices, and they have responded by putting their properties on the market far in excess of their true market value. They may be happy to wait as long as it takes for a buyer who will pay this high price... and in many cases the buyer turns out to be a gullible foreigner.

Choosing an Estate Agent

It is really important to find the right estate agent to help you though this minefield. You need somebody on your side who knows what they're doing, and if you're the buyer, you need a buyer's agent who will tell you honestly when a property is over-priced.

Personally, especially if you don't speak the language, I think that a Portuguese estate agent with a good command of English has the best chance of negotiating the stormy waters of the local property market. They benefit from an uncompromised understanding of the workings of the system and all its linguistic and cultural nuances, and they can also provide you with comprehensible information in English.

The fact that the transaction worked out as planned was almost entirely down to Fabio's hard work and determination. He couldn't have done more to get our property sold. He is a great example of a good estate agent - a professional after my own heart, supportive, and consistently communicative. The other day he drove me over an hour to the 'Conservatória do Registo Predial' in another district, (that's the Land Registry), to sort out the paperwork. On one occasion, he said he might need to take a lemon to a meeting so that he could feign tears and get the officials on his side! Of course it was just a joke. When I watched Fabio in a formal environment, he was always appreciative, respectful, and grateful - and I'm sure that this helped us to get the result we needed.

With our great teamwork and the excellent co-operation of the Land Registry and the Notary, we successfully pulled our deal together and completed it during the short time that I was here.

So, if you're looking for an estate agent in the Algarve, or you know somebody who is, I'd gladly recommend Fabio. He is based in Silves, and covers a wide area in the central Algarve. You can see his current instructions here, but remember he can also help you look for a property which meets your requirements. You can call him or send him a WhatsApp message on +351 916 930 331, email him at ffreis@remax.pt, or drop me a line and I'll introduce you.

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