A Portuguese real estate agency is usually called an agenzia inmobiliaria. After you’ve found the property you wish to purchase and the agent has forwarded your offer, the first part of the process is usually a verbal agreement between the vendor and you, the buyer. It’s advisable to have a lawyer to check title, etc.
A preliminary contract lays out the terms of the sale, including the completion date. At this time a deposit is paid, usually 10%. You will lose your deposit if you subsequently withdraw from the purchase. However, should the vendor back out, he/she must pay you twice the value of your deposit.
On completion, and the transfer of ownership, both parties sign the escritura (the title deeds) before a notary. The balance of the purchase price plus all fees and taxes is paid at this time.
For purchase related fees, the ballpark figure is 10%. Depending on declared value, transfer tax goes from 0% to 8%. Legal fees are 1%-2%; notary and land registry fees around 2.5%; up to 0.8% for annual local taxes. Although agents’ fees mostly range from 3% to 5%, the vendor pays these.
You will need a fiscal number (número de contribuinte) from the local tax office. This is a tax number, in the form of a card, and is required to open a bank account and pay the rates and utilities on the property.