Surveys on Properties in Portugal and what you need to know

Helen Mamerow 26/05/2020 16:33:28

You are interested in buying a property but not sure about the condition of the property? Then it might be the right time to hire a surveyor. A house survey is a health inspection of a property that is carried out by an independent chartered surveyor. If you have an offer accepted on a property, it is recommended to obtain a survey report before purchasing the property. The surveyor is a person who examines the condition of land and buildings in a professional manner and provides a detailed report which includes information about visible problems and those that may be under the surface. The survey report provides an in-depth analysis of the property?s condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.

Most property surveys begin with a research into legal descriptions about the land they?ll be surveying and its history. Then, the surveyor will actually visit the property and describe the land, its boundaries and all buildings on it.

A detailed survey will tell you any problems or defects, like obvious rot, subsidence, a leaking roof or serious structural problems. The surveyor alerts of existing bugs in cane or wooden ceilings/floors, gives advice on the functionality and legality of existing boreholes and is testing the condition of any damp-proofing, insulation and drainage. He is providing results of tests for eventual damp in the walls. The surveyor also confirms whether all buildings match with the approved stamped building plans of the respective townhall. He normally also makes a valuation of the property and an insurance reinstatement value. So overall, he gives an expert opinion of the property, e.g. from the method of building, types of walls to the type of glazing and he gives recommendations for any further special inspection, if necessary. A property survey also includes to check out servitudes mentioned in the land registry document like right-of-way’s and easements. These are elements that detail what to do with shared driveways, shared boreholes or if a neighbour has a right of way to the road leading to your property.

In the event that one or more of the above-mentioned deficiencies exist and stay undetected, this could become a real nightmare and can become a drain on your financial health. If you choose to have a survey conducted before completing the sale, all issues will be listed in your report and you are able to raise questions, but you can also decide to maybe adjust your offer and undertake the work, or if there is a serious problem, even pull out. Alternatively, you might ask the seller to fix certain problems before you buy. As such the report will give you peace of mind and may reassure you that small hairline cracks don’t mean the house is falling down. This is actually a common issue in the Algarve and is mainly caused by variations in temperature, humidity levels and small tremors. 

For new built properties, we recommend as well a professional snagging survey to be carried out.  A snagging survey will identify defects or problems which need fixing before you move in.  This survey will for example point out things that haven’t been finished properly.

If the property is off-plan, try to get a survey done before completing the purchase. This way you will have more negotiating power to get any problems fixed and in a timely manner. In case the developer does not allow access to the property before completion get a snagging survey carried out as soon as possible after moving in.

Please note: A mortgage valuation is not a proper survey – it is just a superficial look at a property to assess how much the property is worth in relation to the loan. It is required by your mortgage lender to ensure the property has sufficient value to secure the loan.

Property surveys should be carried out by qualified surveyors. Most qualified surveyors are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Survey costs can vary from company to company depending of the size and location of the property, but are normally between 400 and 600 Euros. Surveyors do often reduce their fee by carrying out a detailed inspection, but merely providing a short letter style summary, rather than a full report.


The purpose of a survey carried out on your behalf is to enable you to make a reasoned and well-informed decision before proceeding to buy a property and to also take into account any repairs or replacements the property needs.

For most people buying a property is the largest financial transaction they will make in their lifetime. Spending a few hundred euros on a survey to have the reassurance of an independent expert who is not involved in the transaction seems like a really good investment.

If you need any further advice about buying or selling a property, contact us. Our friendly conveyancing team is here to help.

Stefan Humpenöder
Managing Director

Yellow Homes – Land & Houses Algarve