experience and language support

edited December 1969 in General
Hello everyone. We are in the process of buying a house in Madeira. We've read up as much as we can and we've followed this forum for a while, but it still seems a scary business. We have a shortlist of properties we like, mainly in the Riberia Brava, Sao Vicente area and John is coming on his own next week or the week after to view. His Portuguese skills are zero, as is his experience in the house buying minefield. Would any of you knowledgeable folk know of anyone who could act as an impartial but companiable guide for a day. He will have a hire car (and enough food for a couple of days!) so will be self sufficient. Suggestions gratefully received, cheers, hetwit


  • Hi Hewit,

    As you asked for any suggestions, mine would be that you delay buying and rent until you know the "lay of the land". Your comment that you are looking in the Sao. Vincente-Ribeira Brava area may make sense on a map but in practice makes no sense at all. Get to know the island a little, meet some people who have been there, done that, find out the plus and minuses of the different areas and the many micro climates - assuming climate is important to you as it is to most people coming here, and look at lots of houses till you are really clear what you want, where you want it, what is good in house construction and what you want to avoid.

    There are many, many houses on the market, and there is absolutely no need to buy in a hurry. The web sites can be very misleading, and most houses are going for way below asking price, unless the owners have been realistic - which is the exception. There are also a multitude of houses for rent, at very reasonable prices by owners who have been unable to sell.

    I know there is a pull to get settled and have your own place, but prices can only go down and the better informed you are, the more likely you will end up with something you will be happy with for a very long time. Most of the horror stories involve people who bought-built too quickly without giving themselves time to really get to know people, areas, and what to look for.

    That's my suggestion anyway. :-)
  • We have a villa in Madeira and I totally agree with Madeiraplus. There are lots of things to take into account. I can give you some pointers if you pm me. We got a lot of help from a particular couple living on the island, and have become friends. Good luck.
  • HI Hewit

    I would agree 100% with both Madeiraplus and Madmick.

    There are so many things to take into account.

    Would it be a good idea to let your house in the UK until you´re 100% sure that Madeira is the place for you?. There are so many houses on the market and you also have to take into account things like "Succession Rights" in Portugal.

    We wish you the best of luck as Madeira is a beautiful island.
  • I would suggest you use a licensed estate agent. "Scary" stories diminish that way since they have a business to protect and would make sure you get treated correctly. Do everything transparently too. Why don't you just post back to the forum as the business proceeds. Like a day-by-day report. Since a deed of sale is a public document all your property purchasing business becomes public anyway and this way you can use the supportive members on the forum too to accompany you.
  • I totally agree with all that has been said. Many people have bought straight away and regretted it, be sure to get to know the area, people and whether it is really going to be what you want. It is very differant to visiting for holidays and then moving full time. There are lots of issues, residency, taxes, health costs, accountants, and paperwork in Madeira can be confusing and difficult. I certainly would not sell up in total in the UK until you are certain it is the place for you. I have lived here for nearly 10 years but still have my property in UK. Never say never - I have no desire to return to UK but who knows? There are many very good articles in the English newspaper The Brit which is also available on line, may be worth reading everything you can get your hands on. Having said that Madeira and it's people are fabulous but things are changing because of the worldwide economic situation and costs are rising, many out of work, we are often helping the less advantaged with clothes,food and shoes, as there is no financial help (or very little for a short time). Just really be careful before you commit to something you can't get out of if it goes wrong. Good Luck.
  • Hello again Hewit,

    While Limbo is correct that using a licensed estate agent reduces horror stories, it does not eliminate them. He is not correct that they "would make sure you get treated correctly". As in all things, you have to use your common sense, and not get overwhelmed with "this is the way things are done here" line. All the world over people come in many shades of honest, and things are particularly desperate right now for estate agents.

    Again, come and talk to people and check out the reputation of any agent, lawyer, etc thoroughly with several people and then follow your own instincts and don't make any long term commitments. Open your wallet only after careful consideration. We were told by a person we trusted, and who had no monetary incentive to lie to us, that a certain service was always paid for in advance here. That was b.s and when the professional did not produce we were out several thousand.

    In spite of that, moving here was one of the best things we have done, and I highly recommend it. We live in a lovely place, have found good friends, our garden is a joy to us and cost of living is less than elsewhere.

    The other thing to take into account is how you yourself will change as you get to know the island. When people first come they want all the sunshine they can get, dream about large succulent gardens (if they are into gardening), and fall in love with the first good sea view. Once people are here for a while, they want protection from the sun, scale back their gardens (and when the real estate market was such that they could some move to smaller properties), and realize that most properties here have great sea views.

    I hope we haven't deterred you from coming and I hope John still intends to come and look at the properties you are curious about - and at the same time checks into rentals. The research will be worth it.
  • Again I agree. I don't have time for estate agents either in this country or Madeira. At the end of the day they are sales people. Read between the lines and make your own judgements, take everything they say with a pinch of salt, whether they are registered or not. Also do as you would do at home. Get a good lawyer and have a survey done. People in the past see the sunshine and get carried away. People have bought from developers without a lawyer on the basis he was a nice chap. No surprise many have been ripped off. It is a good time to buy at the moment, as prices have fallen and there are many bargains to be had. But remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Thank you so much for all the advice and suggestions. Buying a house abroad is like having your first baby - you can read up every bit of written advice, but you've no idea what really is about to hit you. By the 2nd or 3rd child, babies become a doddle, which is why I guess your advice is so valuable as you've been there, done that.
    We aren't looking to move, we want a holiday home. Madeira ticked everyone of our boxes apart from the huge airfare increases lately. It offers us everything we want. the climate is not too hot or too cold, the walking is fantastic (which is what we do on holiday) and thanks to the expressway, (nearly) everywhere is accessible.
    Our budget is tight, but there are many small more remote cottages within our reach. We do know about the banana line and the microclimates. We also know that the house that looks best on paper seems to only be advertised with an estate agent that doesn't appear to have a AMI licence, leaving us reluctant to persue.
    As limbo suggested, posting updates as we go would certainly help us as all your advice is valuable. It's knowing who to trust 'in the field'. Do any of the lawyers or surveyors work in your interests, or those of the madeiran seller? A list of legal people you guys have used successfully would be useful for anyone in our position. Mad Mick says get a good lawyer and surveyor, but when you lack the language skills and the experience, it is not as all easy to judge people. the only way you know you've a good one is either after the event and it has by chance gone well, or if they are personally recommended as having done a good job for someone else.
    But thanks for everything so far. John will still be coming, but there's several estate agents holding us up as they just aren't getting back to us...!
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    Unless you like Skype - we find it too flaky.

    Call the estate agents and tell them what day you are coming. Many Madeiran businesses are not good about returning emails, and estate agents get a lot of "dreamers".

    If your emails are on the basis of web-site addresses, some may not be in business anymore.
  • PS Any agent can show you any house, so tell an agent about the house that you like best and (s)he should be able to arrange a showing or at the very least a drive by first to see if it is worth a showing.
  • very good article in July Brit ( www.thebrit.co.uk ) relating to taxes etc due when buying property here, eg Taxes on property, taxable Asset value, IMT Municipal tax on transfer of property ownership Title transfer and stamp duty, lawyers fee etc... You need to be aware of ALL costs involved. You should also be aware that if you stay over 183 consecutive days in Madeira, you must apply for residency and register for taxation. Also if you plan to rent out the property ( you don't say) but there are very complicated rules for that, eg licensing, appointment of accountant (compulsary if holiday let) . All said , fab place to live or holiday but bureacracy very complicated and often longwinded, worht it in the long run but the more you know about the systems, the easier it may be, Good Luck.
  • Hi Hetwit,
    I have just seen your email with interest, due to new and exiting law change to attract investors from both in and outside of the EU. Portugal has become an EU tax haven after Malta. Zero taxes on pensions dating back from Jan-2012 for a period of ten years and a non inheritance tax. You can even buy or build your home tax free, but there are restrictions. I'm here to help the Norwegians set up a second home and can pass on to you information that might help you in your search at no cost to you.
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