Buying properties or land is never easy, even more so when you want to buy something in a country you do not live in (yet). For us the whole process of buying the perfect land was really time-consuming and difficult, both of which have several reasons, and all of them going back to the fact that Madeira is Madeira. In this post we will give you a first impression of where to search for a property or land.
Real estate platforms in Madeira
We started looking for land, or actually only browsing through offers, on some of the common platforms for Portugal. I personally always preferred green-acres over the other platforms, as in my opinion they have the best user interface. It is very simple to navigate to the part of the island you are most interested in and also the listing has a nice format where you see the pictures and some basic information. If you are just browsing and not looking for a particular area, also idealista or pinkrealestate are nice. Both of them have search options where you can restrict the search to a specific area (also by drawing your own search map on the island) but as I said, I have always preferred green-acres.
As you can see when you open some of the links, they have really nice houses and really beautiful plots in their listings. As you will also note, most of them are expensive. I am still not quite sure whether Madeirans really use these platforms or if they are just meant as platforms for foreigners. I am sure they want to attract people living in foreign countries with those pages, otherwise I see no reason to offer the sides in 6+ different languages. However, some of the listings have a reasonable prize, so I guess also Madeirans use them (possibly more for rent than for buying).
Anyway, this is a good first step towards buying land or a property for a foreigner like me and probably also you reading this blog. The clear advantage of these platforms is that you get so many different offers and they are changing on a weekly basis. So they will give you a good first impression, although some of them certainly are overpriced.
Local real estate agencies
Another good source are the listings on doors and windows of local real estate agencies all over the island. As we were looking for land in the area of Prazeres, and as there is an agency right next to the supermarket and the cash machine, we stopped by regularly. And one time we really did find something interesting, land in Prazeres 60 Euro per square meter. Eventually we did not end up buying it: the access road to the land was too steep for our liking. However, this option is a very good one, as you do not only get a nice overview of what is for sale in a specific area, but you also have a person sitting in the office behind the door or window that you can ask right away. Also that person will send you more offers they have.
When you find something on a window of a real estate agency the chances are quite good that the papers of the property are in order. And this is something very important to consider, because in Madeira, especially in rural areas (which is basically everything other than Funchal), papers usually are not in order. I have seen plots that belonged to a women living abroad, but in a strange way the middle of the land belonged to her second cousin how had just passed, his children are in South Africa now and nobody has their contact details. And believe me when I say, this is one of the easily resolvable cases. There are plots for sale that belong to a whole family of 16 people, and all of them have to sign that they want to sell. There are stories that one out of 20 did not sign in the end and the land could not be sold. But this is actually a whole different story.
Let me instead talk about the best source: Madeirans themselves. Ask people! Tell them you want to buy something. By 2017 we had some good friends on the island and all of them knew we wanted to move to Madeira and would be interested in buying something. One of our friends also told us to buy a small land next to hers, which in a way belonged to her (this has to do with the strange property situation on Madeira as mentioned above). We also did not end up doing this, but it was a good offer and much much much MUCH cheaper than on the general real estate platforms for foreigners.
As everybody on the island knew we were interested, they would tell us if a neighbor, friend or family member would sell something. One of our friends even asked around in the local communities. Now this might seem strange to some of you, because in most European countries this is not how it works, right? Only few people would help you just for the sake of helping you. Nothing in return, they just do it because they are nice. I know, it sounds unbelievable, but this is how people on this little island are. It took us some time to realize that they really just want to help you and be kind. And actually, I have headed similar stories from other foreigners living in Madeira. In a way, everybody has to experience this kindness and doupt it for a while until it makes click in their heads when they realize that people in Madeira really just are the way they are and really just want to help you. Long story short, this is also how we got to our land, thanks to some local friends.
And one last advice: take your time when looking for a property, do not stress and peace out! Hana.
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