Mortgages in Portugal

Visitors to the Algarve who decide to invest in a holiday or future retirement home may be surprised to find that there are fewer choices here than in their home country for obtaining a mortgage.

There are several reasons for this, including the fact that despite the opening up of the domestic market in recent years following reductions in interest rates few Portuguese banks will consider a mortgage application from foreign non-residents, although this may change in the future.
Also the legal system for security loans on a property is cumbersome, implying a slow and costly process for foreign mortgage lenders. This is the main reason that only a very few non Portuguese banks provide mortgages in the Algarve.

There are three banks that dominate the foreign mortgage market: a well known British offshore bank with a representative office in the Algarve; a Danish offshore bank and the London branch of a Portugues bank. Besides that there are some mortgage brokers who intermediate in obtaining a mortgage. Normally an offshore company is formed to hold title to the property in Portugal. The banks then secure the loan on the shares of the offshore company. The offshore route is a common form of property ownership and has several tax advantages that may outweigh the disadvantage of paying annual management charges ( normally in the range of £ 500 - £ 1000 each year ). An accountant or specialist tax advisor can provide advice on specific details of off-shore company ownership. See my article on offshore companies.

Mortgages are available in a variety of European currencies as well as in US dollars and in the near future Abbey National will issue a EURO mortgage to be expected at approx. 5%. It is difficult to find a fixed rate mortgage in any currency, so you will probably be offered a variable rate pegged at around 1,5 - 2% over the benchmark base lending rate of the chosen currency. As an example currently sterling mortgage rates are in the range of 9-9,5% and the D-mark rates are in the range of 5-5,5%. The maximum loan available relative to the value of the property is generally limited to 75% of the valuation value or sales price whatever is the lowest. Valuations are carried out by experts of the respective banks.

Anyone applying for a mortgage will normally be required to provide proof of income, whether from employment, business, investments or pensions. Tax returns will also be required, although "non-status" mortgages are available in certain cases.

Portuguese nationals and anyone with the official " Residencia " card and a history in this country will have a wider choice by contacting a branch of one of the many Portuguese banks that have multiplied all over the Algarve in recent years. Following massive reductions in interest rates in the last three years, local banks now offer mortgages around or below 6% in Escudos or even between 3 and 4% for young starters in the market, with the rate often fixed for a period. Some provide mortgages on other currencies as well. Up to 90% loans are common, but tax returns are always required from applicants.

Mortgages can also be arranged through a small number of brokers and financial advisors, some of which will charge fees. This could be a good route to take in order to find out all the available choices and your broker should advise on the mortgage which best fits your pocket and your property.

Finally before making an application for any mortgage it is wise to ascertain and compare the level of associated costs in order to budget accurately for your purchase. Banks will pass on legal costs to borrowers and as legal fees in Portugal generally higher than elsewhere these costs may be considerable and a lawyer can provide some estimate prior to committing to a purchase. Also each bank charges for surveying and valuing the property. Despite the cost involved this service provides a useful check on construction quality and confirms that you are paying a fair market price for your home.

In order to help you I will provide details of the following well-known providers:

Abbey National
Susan Hart or Linda Kenny
Edificio Cor de Rosa r/c Esq.
EN 125 Quatro Estrades
8125 Quarteira Portugal
Tel: +351 (089) 397900
Fax: +351 (089) 397889

Jyske Bank
76 Main Street, PO, Box 143
Tel: 72782
Fax: 72732

Banco Totta & Açores

Branch in London:
a.o. Simon Perks
68 Cannon Street
London EC4N 6AQ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 71 2361515
Fax: +44 (0) 71 2367717
Web site:

Branch in Amsterdam:
a.o. Sr. Antonio Prazado Alves
Leidsegracht 9
Tel: +31 (0)20 6232746
Fax: +31 (0)20 6389941

Conti Financial Services

a.o. Simon L. Conn
204 Church Road
Hove, BN3 2DJ
East Sussex
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1273 772811
Fax: +44 (0)1273 725789
Web Site:

Aditus Real Estate Finance
a.o Trishell Gill
Quatro Estradas
Apartado 170
Stª Barbara de Nexe
8000 Faro
Tel: 289-393-031

Algarve, Portugal, October 1999.
by Robert M.L. Snapper

Rua Dr. Paulo J. Godinho, Lote 5 - Loja C, 8600-774 Lagos - Portugal
Tel: (+351) 282-768-821
Fax: (+351) 282-768-827
Mobile: (+351) 917-566-931 Mobile: (+351) 917-303-629
E-mail: URL:
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