From Setbacks to Serenity

A Tale of Pursuing Property Dreams Across Portugal and Spain

by Steve Mack
Embarking on the journey of finding and securing the perfect property can be a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with unexpected twists and turns. Steve Mack tells his story of pursuing property his dreams across Portugal and Spain.

In January 2015 we made arrangements with an agent to view a property in Braga in Vieira do Minho with stunning views directly overlooking rivers. The price had recently dropped from 235k Euro to 185k Euro which had made it realistic for our budget. Unfortunately, the night before our flight into Porto the agent called to apologise and said the property had been taken off the market as it had been sold. Bad timing.

A couple of years later we made a deposit on a unique rural property in Spain about 1.5 hours inland of Valencia. Being confident we were getting our dream place in the sun we were reviewing room sizes and deciding what furniture would go where - indeed we had purchased quality second hand pieces specifically suited for our new home. The agreed completion day came and went as it turned out there was an issue with the land registry whereby the property plot size, stated to be 11,923 m2 was in fact only 3,570m2! The owners were doing their best to pull out the stops and legalise the outstanding land but we decided to pull out. Both sets of solicitors wanted a lengthy expensive court settlement and the advice I received from an independent UK solicitor specialising in international property law was to “forget your deposit” and walk away. Even if we had won our case there would be appeals etc. This wasn’t an option for us as the deposit was sizable so I booked a plane trip to Spain and visited the property owners in their new home early on a Sunday morning and politely asked for our money back. They were understandable and I left with €5,000 and they promised to transfer further €10,000 over the next two days. I stayed in a local hotel until the money was transferred and we both were happy to stop paying out any further lawyer fees and resolve the issues between us.

In January 2018 we booked a trip to Portugal to view a privately advertised property near Maçãs de Dona Maria which caught our eye on an internet portal. We arrived in Lisbon and got the train to Pombal whereby we were then picked up by the property owners who gave us ample time to view the house and provide input to any queries raised (a tasty lunch with wine also won us over). We both loved the house and its character and before leaving we agreed on a price. Given past experiences we were a bit on edge but everything slotted into place and by the end of August we collected the keys and were in the pool surrounded by Fig, Olive and Mediterranean fauna - total bliss.

I am fortunate to have dual citizenship (Ireland and UK) being born in Belfast so getting Portuguese residency certificate was straightforward - matriculating our UK car also took some time but we got there in the end. Over the five years of ownership we have repainted areas inside and out, added terraces (wood & composite decking), installed a new modern salamander to complement the existing pellets stoves and enjoyed dinners on the terrace overlooking breathtaking views which I never tire of. We have tended to garden areas with a mixture of strimmers (battery and petrol powered) and, whilst speaking little to no Portuguese have enjoyed meeting and greeting our neighbours who are on hand in event of any advice or requirements. A quote from John Wooden -”Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.” I guess that applies to us.