Online property searching is a little addictive. Especially when you are excited, and more than 1,000 miles away from where you want to purchase your next house. As well as having little knowledge of the area I’m searching. Having an addictive personality doesn’t help either!
Being physically sat indoors on a wet day in the UK means my mind wanders often to a picture of me being sat outdoors in the sun on a small farm in Portugal. The backdrop of this farm has been drawn from the many images I’ve viewed from property websites.
Anyone who has browsed properties online will appreciate there is an abundance of property websites and sources where you can search. My browser bookmarks are almost entirely filled with property websites. And I believe I’ve only touched the surface of them.
I am sure everyone approaches their property searching differently. I am definitely not an expert in online research, but I’ve a systematic approach that has worked for me.
Firstly, I believe everyone has an idyllic image of what they are looking for when searching for a new property. For me, it’s a picture of the swing seat on the front porch. Glorious weather. Beautiful view. Peace. Quiet. Enjoying the simple life.
Now I’ve created the image, I just need to find the property which is the exact match. Absolutely no compromises. I know I can find it. I’ll just jump on the internet and it’ll appear there on the screen. I just know it will.
I am also convinced that I’m going to get my ideal home for less than what I was expecting. With no work to do. Every room will be correctly proportioned. It’ll be perfect. I can move in. Put my feet up and relax.
Now, where did I put my magic wand?
Fortunately, I’m not that naïve. Searching for a property online is tough. Often what you see on a screen is probably not quite what the reality is. While a picture never lies, there is always a little creative licence in presenting properties.
While the UK property market has greater legislation, not quite so in Portugal. Therefore, adjusting to the Portuguese way of presenting properties for sale on websites is a great learning experience.
As advised in my previous blogs, you will know I like to-do lists. However, I have my trusty ‘ideas’ notepad. And, believe me, it’s getting full.
You’ve guessed it. My first step is going back to pen and paper. I scribble in my notepad the non-negotiables. This is not about the ideal or what I am prepared to compromise on. This is about defining the minimum. It’s a shortlist.
The next step is to prepare a second list which is my ideal property. And then a third which is the dream property. My final list is the absolute no’s. List overload. But trust me, with everything on a list it gives me clarity and definitely make it easier to balance the compromises.
With lists in hand, I turn to search engines. Property websites are in abundance so my starting point is to bookmark property websites. I find it easier to build a long list (I know, another list) of property websites before searching for property.
There are hundreds of property websites. From global property companies to independent estate agents. Some focus on city-centre apartments, others country properties. Prestige properties on exclusive off-plan developments through to a ruin in the mountains.
Several property websites become my go-to websites. It’s a much shorter list. It’s a timesaving gift from me, you can find them in my property search.
Navigating and searching on these websites isn’t particularly easy. While I convert all the websites to English, I have tried to boost my Portuguese with the basics. But what I have found is that often the basic search criteria aren’t available.
Even once I’ve selected particular criteria, that doesn’t always mean that produces the search I was expecting. For example, searching for two bedroomed properties (my minimum) provides ruins which could be two bedrooms. Not quite what I was looking for.
Through lots of trial and error, I have managed to fine-tune my searches. Fortunately, my searches aren’t perfect but that means I’m not missing some of the speculative properties which slip through the net.
My understanding of the geography and individual regions of Central Portugal has been significantly increased. This is proving really helpful in locating the areas where properties are. However, unlike property searching in the UK, being able to locate where properties are is much more challenging. Increasingly some of the websites enable you to draw the area you are searching. This is a great way of searching, especially given the limited geographical knowledge.
When I went through my digital rebalance I opted out of as many emails as I possibly could and increased my spam controls. That digital cleansing felt great and significantly reduced incoming emails. However, I’ve now signed up for notifications from property searches for Portugal although I set up a dedicated email to maintain control.
Through all my searching, I am beginning to compile a list of local areas, estate agents and potential properties to visit on my scouting trip. Plans for the scouting trip are moving forward.
I’m looking forward to beginning to search on the ground in Portugal. There is only so much you can do sitting in front of a screen.
Thanks for reading.
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