January 2016

After returning home from our maiden trip to the Algarve at the end of November 2015 we were till pursuing the house in Portimão. It was a grand old building near the river over three floors with, what we thought at that time, great potential.

portimao 1   As is often the case (we much later discovered) many of the old properties for sale are through inheritance. This can create various problems. Sometimes the price is too high because the sellers need to split the proceeds multiple ways and given that there is no official body giving a true valuation of a property it can result in an inflated price. Interestingly the properties you quite often see which are crumbling ruins are often the sad victims of an unsuccessful search to find the inheritor of the building.

portimao 2

The house in Portimão was owned by a woman who lived in Lisbon. She had inherited it from her parents. Unfortunately she wouldn’t allow anyone to have a key, including the agent, so every time someone wanted to access the property it had to coincide with her visiting Portimão. Not very practical.

Of course this very much slowed things down for us. From the beginning of December until mid January we were trying to obtain an estimate from a builder who couldn’t easily get access to the property. I also had my first real experience of ‘if you don’t chase it, it probably isn’t happening’. This is the self confessed Portuguese (read Mediterranean???) way. And of course, again, we didn’t know this at that time. It was all part of our learning curve.

In business I have been used to the ‘keep people informed even if you have nothing to communicate’ rule. So for example: “I know we had hoped to have an answer for you by now This is just to let you know we’re still trying to speak to the owner.”. Asking someone every few days or weekly if there is any news could, in my world, be classed as nagging. I’ve had to learn that it’s not and they expect it…..

What I also learned with this first experience is sometimes the agent chooses not to answer your emails or speak to you on the phone if they only have bad news or haven’t fulfilled your request.

So for December and the first part of January I nagged the agent in Portimão. I was also asking about two rooms on the roof terrace. It was suspected there had never been building permission and we needed these rooms to be legal. The agent was looking into it.

In late January I travelled down to Portugal to hopefully get things moving. I rented a small apartment near Praia da Rocha. I was disappointed. It wasn’t the type of resort I’d imagined and there were virtually no restaurants open for business. It was like a ghost town. The gap between the busy working town and the resort was too wide. If we decided to use the house as a holiday let after the renovation how popular would it be? Would we get any winter lets?

The location of this first potential property had been a mistake and we were lacking too much information to go through with the purchase anyway. But again very good lessons were learned.

So where to go from here? Ilha da Armona of course…..

Author: Denise

My name is Denise. Having spent over 30 years in an international career in Organisational & People Development I am now putting down roots in Tavira in the East Algarve, Portugal. I'm a female Brit, married to a Norwegian, and I find it hard to believe I'm in my early 60's when I don't feel it and have so many more things to do and achieve. I became an expat when I left the UK in 2001. Since then I've lived in Norway, Singapore, Malaysia and now Portugal. I love to travel, enjoy the company of good friends and cooking. But my life time passion is property. As the daughter of a builder I love imagining what any old or dated property can become and managing the transformation process. I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to do this many times and am excited to be doing it again in Tavira as well as helping others realise their own dreams.

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