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Selling your home is not a spur-of-the-moment decision, but once you have made that decision, you need to figure out the best way to get it on the market and ensure that it reaches potential buyers.
Check your legal stuff
One of the first things that buyers (and often agencies) will ask is that you verify that you have all the legal documents in place and are legally entitled to sell the property. So many times a sale falls through because of a missing document, or an unregistered or unapproved structure: don’t let that happen to you! If necessary engage a lawyer who specialises in property sales. Another aspect is to ensure that all taxes for the property are paid up to date, because if they aren’t, a sale cannot complete.
Choose an Agency
Choose a reputable agent. In Portugal you’re not limited to one agency so it’s up to you if you want to list with one agency or with several. We recommend listing with one agency only, but take the time to identify one which will market your property to the fullest extent.
Make sure the real estate agency you deal with is licensed to sell properties in Portugal. To operate legally in Portugal, an agent must certified by the Instituto da Construcão e do Imobiliario (INCI). Agents must display their ‘AMI’ license number on all their marketing materials, and you can check valid AMI numbers on the INCI website.
Ask how and where they will market your property. What effort will they put into it? Will they provide guidance for preparing your house for photos and use a professional photographer? Will they arrange for a video? Slideshow? Will they market your property online? If so, where? Have all these answers before taking a decision on who to trust with your biggest asset.
Agency Fees and other costs of selling
In Portugal, the agency fees are paid by the seller and the commission is usually 5% of the sales price. This can amount to a large sum of money so it’s always worth trying to negotiate a lower rate, particularly if you’re selling a high-value property. Sometimes the buyer and seller agents will make a deal between them to split the commission if it helps them to close the deal.
You may also need to pay for a lawyer, if you have engaged one. There are also sales, income and capital gains taxes to be considered. It’s definitely worth getting advice from a good advogado (lawyer) in advance, in order to know how much you will actually have in your hand, so to speak, after a sale goes through.
Putting a price on your property
One reason why many properties take a long time to sell is because owners over-estimate what their property is worth to a buyer. Regardless of what you paid for a property, or what improvements you have made to it, the property can never be worth more than the going market rate. Buyers have a choice of where to invest their money and, if your property is priced significantly higher than similar properties in the area, you can expect that those other properties will sell first.
Similarly, sometimes properties are under-valued. The price might seem to be the going rate, but your property may have some unique features that other properties don’t have: this increases the value of your property. Unless you are in a real hurry to make that sale, it’s worth making sure that your property is valued correctly.
Usually your agent will be able to provide enough data to advise you on the real market value, but often they will recommend having a survey (Avaliação Imóveis) done to ensure that their estimates are correct.
It’s also worth adding 3 to 5% more to the estimated value as a negotiating margin. Buyers like to think they got a bargain, so when you’re willing to accept a lower offer, the buyer is happy to have got a good deal.
Tips for marketing your property
Make sure that the agency follows these points to a high standard:
- Ensure your house is well-prepared before photographs or video are made. Read our tips on preparing your property for selling.
- Photographs should be top quality. Fantastic views are a good selling point but the property itself, inside and out, are more important for a buyer to have a good idea of what is on offer. Increase your sales opportunities by asking your agent to arrange for a video or a 360 photo slideshow to be created.
- A footprint or layout plan of the house is popular with prospective buyers, ask your agent to include one in the property photographs.
- Check that positive terms are used to fully describe the property, and that the best amenities in the area such as schools, public transport, parks etc. are mentioned in the property write-up.
Now that you have prepared your property for selling, hired your agent, and your property is being marketed, you can relax and hopefully get ready for lots of potential buyers to come and view.