Buying a house in Portugal is fairly straightforward. Well, as straightforward as anywhere, which is rarely straightforward. We had been recommended a lawyer, Dr. D. An amazingly ebullient character with his own brand of humour and a colourful handle on the English language. We couldn’t complain about that as I spoke no Portuguese and Jackie only a smattering from her time as a volunteer in Angola many years previously. He was extremely helpful though and with his sidekick he whisked us around the small market town of Ansiao getting registered at the fiscal services and opening a bank account. Although it took us hours to open the account it was actually easier in terms of documentation we had to produce than the UK. Perhaps our stamina in the face of form filling was enough to prove to the Portuguese authorities that we weren’t money launderers.
The following morning we signed our lives over to Dr. Delphim in the form of a power of attorney and headed back to Jordan.
The next month was quite painful. There were problems contacting the seller’s lawyer and we had to have a survey, not of the house but of the land. This was because the land was taxed by size and so owners often registered their land with the tax authorities as much smaller than the reality. In our case it turned out to be bigger! There was also a problem with the promissory contract which we eventually decided to not do. Through all this we learned that nothing happens very quickly in Portugal and you constantly have to hound people to get anything done.
Finally, the date was set for the final signing, that of the Escrituria Publica, on June 25th. Then this was changed to 2.30pm on Tuesday 30th June. Then our lawyer phoned to say that there was another problem due to the fact that me and Jackie weren’t married. Again, not a problem with a house but a problem with the land and not a problem in the neighbouring municipalities – only the one where our house happened to be. However, our lawyer said he knew the municipality lawyer and could appeal the decision and get everything back on track.
So, on Friday 3rd July everything was signed, sealed and delivered. There is one further problem but we are told it is minor and the house is ours! The champagne which had been on ice for a month was finally opened, our flights booked, my superiors at the British Council informed of my leaving. After 11 years at the British Council my last day in the office was set for 31st August 2009.