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  • Writer's picturePaul Rees

Strange things can happen...

Strange things can happen when doing business in the central region. Recently, I encountered a rarity in the Portuguese property market, a buyer pulling out of a purchase and losing his deposit. This was a first for me and triggered some necessary legalities that have been ‘interesting’ to execute.

For whatever reason, our overseas buyer decided not to complete his purchase of a two-bedroom cottage in Vale do Rio, near Figueiró dos Vinhos, Leiria. The deposit therefore was forfeit and goes some way to compensate Rural Properties and its investor for the delay and disappointment.

On the plus side, the property has risen in value during the promissory contract period and can now be readvertised. The additional legal ‘last chance’ period of a month is up, a registered letter was sent and final ‘end of contract’ notice has been produced by our lawyer.

Defaults happen rarely as buyers generally ensure they have the means to complete or, if there is a personal reason for delay, both parties sensibly agree an extension along with payment of an additional deposit.

It has been interesting to see developments in the village of Vale do Rio over the development period. When we bought the property, locals said that ‘nothing else was for sale’ but were pleased that someone was taking an interest. This is a village of maybe 40 properties and eleven full-time occupants.

While renovating the property and talking to residents, a further five properties quietly were offered to us. Since starting our renovation last year, one large house has been bought by a British couple as their retirement home, another is being significantly upgraded and three others now sports For Sale boards.

The five properties I had been offered in the past few months, are for sale privately, not through estate agencies as the owners of lower-priced properties refuse to use agents due to an often-punishing ‘minimum fee’ policy. In summary, the market for rural properties continues to grow and many unadvertised properties are available if you know how to find them.

One property where the documentation once defied polite description is the Old Mill House near Castanheira de Pera, Leira District, for which we have just accepted an offer and signed a promissory contract. The complex rectification of the land area, the built areas and other registration data took over six months to complete, a period during which the property legally could not be advertised but was rising in market value.

With a full set of up-to-date documentation, including the registration of two old mill houses, an old smokehouse and a storage building, the new owner has everything up to date and properly legalised. The two hours I spent with the vendor and her extended family in the lawyer’s office, while they hammered out family differences, enabled us to resolved issues such as the right of way through the front garden, water rights since the 1960s and the reasons the property was registered facing the opposite direction to reality.

Another property we are in the process of buying, where the paperwork did not reflect reality, is in Pedrógão Pequeno, Sertã.

Tucked away in the town’s historic centre, Travessa da Asnega is a narrow lane along which stand a row of old cottages. An investor was happy to go ahead with this project despite the name of the road being incorrectly entered on the registration document, the house having three separate numbers depending in where you looked, the 135m2 garden at the rear of the property not being noted at all and the building itself lacking accurate registration detail.

By the time we complete the purchase, value already will have been added by updating these registration documents to reflect what physically exists. This stone-build property with two 75m2 floors will be re-modelled as a house with two or three ensuite bedrooms, open-plan lounge plus kitchen in a space open to the height of the fully insulated roof.

An investor now has completed the promissory contract on the twin cottages at Vale Porco, near Sertã in the Castelo Branco region.

These properties also are having their documents sorted out as the buildings and land plots are registered at the tax office but not with the land registry. This is the opportunity needed to divide the land at the rear into two garden areas.

The old olive oil building in Mega Cimeira, Goís, Coimbra Region, is not going to make it as a new business. Goís Câmara President emailed me last Saturday evening to commiserate but agree that resurrecting this ‘lagar’ as a business is financially unsound.

The only way this lagar could have become a viable business is by adding a significant ‘tourism’ element which, as the size is 300m2 for the building and adjoining parking space, is not of sufficient size; nor is this property on a prime tourism route.

This leaves the property ripe for development as the building will make a fantastic home or rental property. The Council can now be asked to approve a change of use from industrial to habitation but by having involved the executive in the decision-making process, this may now be an easier process.

There certainly is huge scope for some out-of-the-ordinary design work with the original, industrial interior, so if anyone wants in principle to fund this project, let me know and I will work out the detailed costs.

Rural Properties uses investor’s funds to buy and renovate interesting inland properties, sharing the profits and the fun.

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