Lisbon may have rocketed in popularity in recent years, with house prices to match, but it is still a captivating place to consider buying a property.
Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is undoubtedly a beautiful city packed with charm, but for a long time many foreign property buyers slept on it. Overshadowed by the more obvious southern European destinations like Barcelona and Ibiza, Lisbon remained something of an enigma – far from the rest of Europe, with a a culture, food and language that wasn’t a worldwide export (like Spanish), making the city more of a niche destination. But those days are gone.
Once a place where bargain second homes could be cherry picked from anywhere in the city, Lisbon, with its headline liberal laws, tumbledown bars and clubs, and graffiti-strewn Gothic architecture, has now turned into perhaps best described as Berlin-on-Sea. The influx of both digital nomads and those seeking to capitalise on its growing popularity means that house prices have exploded. In the second quarter of 2023, median house price in Lisbon reached €2,306 per square metre, a whopping 57 per cent rise from four years ago.
It may not be a direct comparison, but Lisbon is still significantly cheaper than Ibiza and now on a par with Barcelona when it comes to house prices, although the Portuguese capital will have a cheaper cost of living than its Spanish counterparts. The bottom line here is: where would you like to live? Arguably, while many other second home destinations are now flooded with expats and tourists, Lisbon still remains a lot of its faded glory, with meandering cobbled streets, fado music mooching from open windows and the smell of bacalhau à Gomes de Sá never far away.
Buying a property in Lisbon is fairly straightforward – kind of. EU and US buyers need to get a mortgage from one of several credit institutions (on The Bank of Portugal website) and as with many countries the bank will carry out a valuation on condition of the loan. You’ll need to apply for Tax Identification Number (TIN) allowing you to cover the taxes on the purchase – these include Municipal Property Transfer Tax, Stamp Duty and Municipal Property Tax.
The one issue for Americans is the change in the Golden Visa, which once granted up to five years’ permanent residency when buying a property, with the option of then applying for citizenship. In October 2023 the Portuguese government essentially scrapped the Golden Visa for property purchases, apparently to address the country’s growing housing problem. This means that unless you live in the Schengen zone you will only be able to stay 90 days in the country, otherwise looking at applying for a temporary stay visa that allows a stay up to one year or residence visa for up to five years.
One of the first ports of call for buying a home in Lisbon should be Property Lisbon. If your experience in the past of trying to buy property abroad has involved either flashy agents or no one taking you seriously Property Lisbon is like a breath of fresh air. Emails and calls are answered extremely quickly, with a team of friendly multilingual representatives who can help with everything from buying procedures to getting your hands on the keys – it’s all done professionally and courteously. The property portfolio is huge too, ranging from newbuilds and modern renovations to modernist mid-century houses and apartments, as well as the famous Pombaline Buildings, the unique, native building style of the city.
More info at Property Lisbon
Another extremely approachable and knowledgeable firm in Lisbon is Portugal Homes. Founded by David Poston and Gary Harland, with a combined 24 years’ experience in the Portuguese housing market, there is not much they or the well-trained staff don’t know. It’s all done with the upmost attention to detail, from the moment you walk in or pick up the phone and they provide the complete service to anyone looking to buy a new or resale property in Lisbon for holiday use or as a short or long-term investment. This also includes access to everyone from legal representatives to furniture rental companies, if and when you need.
More info at Portugal Homes
Engel & Völkers
The German real estate giant sells homes all over the world and has a great reputation. For more than 45 years the company has focused on high-end residential properties, operating in more than 30 countries and with staff numbers exceeding 16,500. Despite this global presence, buying in Lisbon with Engel & Völkers still means an individual approach – the company prides itself on treated every property sale as unique. For both unique contemporary properties and period homes packed full of character, Engel & Völkers is definitely worth a look.
More info at Engel & Völkers