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Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Old Sep 3rd 2023, 10:07 am
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Question Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Dear all,

Very bold to make a request in first post but we are are almost at the stage of making an offer.

We have used a local real estate agency and located two candidate properties. While the agent says they have lawyers for the paperwork, I guess it would be better to have my own.

Can somebody here recommend an English speaking and professional lawyer?

Thanks
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Old Sep 4th 2023, 11:04 am
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Default Re: Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Originally Posted by jimshaw
Dear all,

Very bold to make a request in first post but we are are almost at the stage of making an offer.

We have used a local real estate agency and located two candidate properties. While the agent says they have lawyers for the paperwork, I guess it would be better to have my own.

Can somebody here recommend an English speaking and professional lawyer?

Thanks
It depends - although no agency should be supplying legal support both for the vendor and the buyer, IMO. The choice is yours, if offered - and I'd like to say that having your own advogado is better, but it really depends on the advogado concerned - much of the process is paper-shuffling and not all lawyers actually use their nous on behalf of the client. All lawyers, regardless of who is paying them, must comply with the legal requirements.

In two purchases, I have once engaged my own advogado and once used the advogado provided by the agency. Interestingly, on the first purchase, it was the agency who suggested hiring my own locally-based advogado although their one did a lot of the work and provided all the paperwork (which reduced the bill somewhat). On the second, the vendor had their own representation so had rejected using the agency's lawyer. Both purchases went well, but the caveat is that, on the purchase where I used the agency-supplied advogado, she was a young, newly qualified and local lawyer - so very client-focused. She actually raised some issues that were very much to my advantage, rather than the agenct or vendor. I still use the other, local, advogado for other matters and he is competent, but wouldn't set the world on fire.... Both of these are/were in the Alentejo/Algarve, but I think the same will apply everywhere.

Sorry if that complicates, rather than clarifies matters - I can't help you with Lisbon-area based lawyers specifically, as those I knew there have now retired. They were excellent, but very busy, so I had to keep them focused..... it has never been a "fire and forget" situation in Portugal!
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Old Sep 4th 2023, 2:27 pm
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Default Re: Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Thanks a lot, that's actually quite helpful! I am using a buyer's agent so supposedly seller and buyer will have their respective lawyer. Your first point is also well taken (it really depends on the advogado concerned). I had unrealistic expectation about self-hired lawyers.

have a nice day.
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Old Sep 5th 2023, 11:04 am
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Default Re: Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

My wife is a property lawyer. but I won't plug her here as it wouldn't be a recommendation really in the sense of a neutral endorsement.

But I would definitely endorse getting your own lawyer, and making sure you get a good one. It's basically an insurance cost. Most transactions go fine, but quite a few don't. You may get to the end and think you probably didn't need it, but that's like getting to the end of the year and thinking you wasted money on insurance because your house didn't burn down. And get the lawyer in before your sign any promissory contract - it's a bit late to find problems with that contract or with anything else when you've already handed over 10% and will lose it if you back out.

If it is a detached house, definitely ensure that the lawyer goes to the camara and checks out all the paperwork including the habitation license. Most do not do this. Many properties, especially in more rural places, have unauthorized modifications and the area is much bigger than the stated in the camara records. Potentially this could end up in demolition of unauthorized extensions or modifications. If you see the house looks very modern and renovated, but the habitation license is from 20 years or more ago then it absolutely needs checking out.

Also, get a proper survey too. This is something that is not common in Portugal, but my wife found a UK surveyor who she tends to recommend to people now. That's important for all kinds of houses, even potentially some older buildings that have been converted into apartments.

Your real estate agents are really just interested in closing deals, so they're unlikely to want their lawyer to torpedo a good payday because they find something up with the house. If the estate agent is paying the lawyer, the lawyer is working for them, not you and their obligations to you will be limited. Even worse if the only lawyer you have is from the seller or seller's agent.

One thing I hear a lot in Portugal is that lawyers (and many other professionals) don't respond to emails or messages promptly. So it is worth exchanging a couple of messages with questions first, just to see how good their communication is. If they take days, or even ignore, simple questions, then they're probably not going to be responsive when you get into the more complicated things later down the line.


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Old Sep 5th 2023, 3:15 pm
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Default Re: Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Originally Posted by captainflack
My wife is a property lawyer. but I won't plug her here as it wouldn't be a recommendation really in the sense of a neutral endorsement.

But I would definitely endorse getting your own lawyer, and making sure you get a good one. It's basically an insurance cost. Most transactions go fine, but quite a few don't. You may get to the end and think you probably didn't need it, but that's like getting to the end of the year and thinking you wasted money on insurance because your house didn't burn down. And get the lawyer in before your sign any promissory contract - it's a bit late to find problems with that contract or with anything else when you've already handed over 10% and will lose it if you back out.

If it is a detached house, definitely ensure that the lawyer goes to the camara and checks out all the paperwork including the habitation license. Most do not do this. Many properties, especially in more rural places, have unauthorized modifications and the area is much bigger than the stated in the camara records. Potentially this could end up in demolition of unauthorized extensions or modifications. If you see the house looks very modern and renovated, but the habitation license is from 20 years or more ago then it absolutely needs checking out.

Also, get a proper survey too. This is something that is not common in Portugal, but my wife found a UK surveyor who she tends to recommend to people now. That's important for all kinds of houses, even potentially some older buildings that have been converted into apartments.

Your real estate agents are really just interested in closing deals, so they're unlikely to want their lawyer to torpedo a good payday because they find something up with the house. If the estate agent is paying the lawyer, the lawyer is working for them, not you and their obligations to you will be limited. Even worse if the only lawyer you have is from the seller or seller's agent.

One thing I hear a lot in Portugal is that lawyers (and many other professionals) don't respond to emails or messages promptly. So it is worth exchanging a couple of messages with questions first, just to see how good their communication is. If they take days, or even ignore, simple questions, then they're probably not going to be responsive when you get into the more complicated things later down the line.
In general, I would agree...... if the majority of Portuguese lawyers actually did the basics well - but they don't. Finding a "good one" as a foreigner is slightly worse than looking for a needle in a haystack - I have seen half a dozen come and go for different reasons - all totally useless except when it came to presenting a bill (two didn't even do that!) My local lawyer is OK, but hardly dynamic - and there's not much choice for me. I also actually disagree with you about the agency lawyers, both those that I experienced (and both women) acted on my behalf - even the first one who just "backed up" my own paid lawyer. The second saved me a considerable amount of money.... so in her case your comment is just not true... Obviously the suspicion is as you say, but it depends on the lawyer and the stage in their career.... many work for agencies as it's regular work.

Regarding responses, etc. My dispute case it has been rolling for 7 years and 3 "experts" have been retained by the court (and paid by me) to survey the work done (not completed as nothing was completed), without delivering anything useful (if anything at all). The first was rejected by the other party before I was even informed that one had been assigned(???), the second was dismissed by the judge as being totally unreliable after 2 years of inaction and the last has just been fined by the court for non-delivery of the required report. So far it has cost me €1500 for these clowns. I had my own survey of the work done and costed by a reputable local surveyor and that cost me €200 but is "inadmissable". My local lawyer informed me of the dismissal of the latest "expert", 18 months after I paid (again) for the survey, one year after the "expert" deigned to turn up and 8 months after the due date for the report to be delivered. God for him, but this was his first contact in over a year! And he's one of the better ones!
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Old Sep 5th 2023, 10:10 pm
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Default Re: Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Maybe it’s a bit late to disclose I am a lawyer too. Being in this sector for over 20 years, I know how it works, what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately I don’t speak Portuguese and know nothing about the law here.

Both of your comments are helpful and much appreciated!

@macliam: Your experience (and frustration) confirms my worries. My landlord paid 1000 euro for the lease agreement with me. When I came here, I found the address of the apartment is wrong!

I don’t want to end up paying an incompetent lawyer, making me worse off than using the agency’s lawyer.

@captainflack: What matters in this industry is really about reputation and the willingness to keep his/her reputation. So in my jurisdiction, people always ask someone he/she trusts to recommend a reliable lawyer. There are clues to judge whether a lawyer is a good one, but no guarantee to that. That’s why I came here to ask for names. If your wife could kindly recommend someone, that would be most appreciated.
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Old Sep 6th 2023, 9:28 am
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Default Re: Property lawyer recommendation for Lisbon area?

Originally Posted by jimshaw
Maybe it’s a bit late to disclose I am a lawyer too. Being in this sector for over 20 years, I know how it works, what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately I don’t speak Portuguese and know nothing about the law here.

Both of your comments are helpful and much appreciated!

@macliam: Your experience (and frustration) confirms my worries. My landlord paid 1000 euro for the lease agreement with me. When I came here, I found the address of the apartment is wrong!

I don’t want to end up paying an incompetent lawyer, making me worse off than using the agency’s lawyer.

@captainflack: What matters in this industry is really about reputation and the willingness to keep his/her reputation. So in my jurisdiction, people always ask someone he/she trusts to recommend a reliable lawyer. There are clues to judge whether a lawyer is a good one, but no guarantee to that. That’s why I came here to ask for names. If your wife could kindly recommend someone, that would be most appreciated.
But I'm sure the document you received was rendered almost illegible by the continual references to the articles and clauses in the constitution reflected!

I don't know where you practice/practiced, because I think the format of Portuguese civil law and the recent history of Portugal has led to the current situation. To me, as an outsider, Portuguese civil law is impacted by being tightly bound to the constitution, where every statement references a specific clause, there is little leeway to react to specific circumstance and cases therefore become transactional interpretations. Both judges and lawyers appear to see any case through the prism of that document, making the outcome a bureaucratic exercise rather than a judgement.

Add to this the not uncommon situation where a career in the law seems hereditary, either due to the cost of training or the options offered ( I have lost track of the lawyers whose fathers were lawyers) - and again, this seems to act against "talent" and in favour of transaction. It is like the difference between a tailor and a designer.... both make clothes, but ony one is likely to change the pattern. So, in the end, you are looking for someone who knows a specific area of the law inside out, to exploit any "wrinkles" in the constitutional clauses - and, to me, that doesn't suggest dynamism. Rant over.
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