Note:For many newcomers and longtime residents it is difficult to find a suitable real estate agent in the Algarve, because so many brokers praise themselves to offer the best service and have the most listings. By the amount of billboards all over the Algarve and advertisements on every corner it is hard to say who can really keep his promises, and who sells himself too high to prove as a total flop when it is too late for you. However, I must confirm that most of the real estate brokers - at least most of whom I personally know - are acting in an honest and ethical manner. In case of doubt, however, you can find out if your real estate broker is dishonest if you study these facts.


Where does the real estate agent come from?

The majority of real estate agents in the Algarve come from other industries. One finds among them often sales agents from the time share area, failed tennis teachers, bored housewives or also former cooks. Only very few brokers start their career, because they have always wanted becoming a real estate agent. Basically, almost everyone foreigners meet in the Algarve is trying to sell them a property. Whether golf teachers, hairdressers, policemen, nurses, taxi drivers, lawyers, restaurant owners, contractors, architects, hotel receptionists, pretty much everyone knows someone who has a house or land for sale. Whether qualified or unqualified. Whether educated or uneducated. Many are simple gold diggers but act as if they were professionals. Do not trust everyone.

Ask for the qualifications of the real estate agent. The fact that she or she has an AMI license is not reason enough to work with her or him. Ask for the individual marketing plan for your property when you sell your house. And if you are a buyer, ask if the broker knows the vendors in person of the houses he lists. If the answers are spontaneous and verifiable, they will give you an insight into the professionalism of the broker.

Keeping up appearances

Some people believe indeed that real estate brokers in the Algarve don't have to work to make a lot of money. They imagine that it's enough to drive that fancy SUV, make a few phone calls, show a house and then cash the cheque. They don't see the incredible amount of multi-processing tasks in this profession. You have to be able to write an email to a potential buyer while you receive the call from a buyer, but in between you have to prepare a viewing while you have to take the photographs of a newly listed villa. Oh, of course simultaneously you have to make copies of the respective documents and effectuate that viewing of four different properties - time is scarce and a day has only 24 hours.

If you finally have found a potential buyer, it is by no means clear that you have sold a house. A lot can happen between the viewing, an enthusiastic offer and the completion. An intelligent and experienced real estate broker knows how to deal with problems that may occur, such as a difficult second or third viewing, a negative survey review, questionable credit claims, and even during a complicated promissory contract or during a tricky completion. If the solution for every problem was to be thrown with money at by buyer and seller, nobody would need areal estate broker.

When I moved to the Algarve more than 20 years ago, I was amazed at how many people do not like real estate brokers. By this I do not even mean contempt but genuine rage. Even today I am sometimes referred to, whether I drive with my convertible through the countryside and people throw bundles of bank notes in my car's trunk. In some people, the contempt for real estate brokers is a deeply rooted hatred, so deeply rooted that they have a constant need to communicate it.
Unfortunately, this hate might be justified. There are the wormy apples in the Algarve that show every other real estate broker the shady light of their misfits, yet then there is also something else.

Main problem: experience

You can say that about 3 out of 4 real estate brokers in the Algarve have little or no experience in this profession and will probably will never develop enough experience to become the professionals they would like to be.
There is no such thing like a school for setbacks, and most real estate brokers learn "try-and-error" during their work. The APEMIP brokerage organisation offers seminars for real estate agents, but these have merely a theoretical structure and in fact the information presented is rather poor. The work of a real estate agent takes place on the street and is a daily challenge to self-confidence and the ability to deal with setbacks. The true school is every situation that arises during each transaction and how they deal with it. This can not be learned at any seminar. Ethical behavior and moral principles must also be coherent, since this is the only way to remain credible as a real estate broker.

In the Algarve, the real estate sector is a very large industry. Statistics show that the number of active real estate brokers fell dramatically during the global economic crisis between 2008 and 2013 and rose exponentially with the recovery of the economy. When times are good and consumers are optimistic, the number of active real estate brokers is increasing, one can
even say that real estate agencies grow currently like mushrooms all over the Algarve. Since the Portuguese real estate market is not regulated, practically everyone can become a real estate broker. Anyone can get an AMI license only if they pass the A-levels in school. Basically there are no minimal educational requirements to look after foreigners coming into the country to invest their life savings.The real estate sector in the Algarve is a business where any inexperienced real estate agent is placed on the same level as a real estate agent with more than 20 years of experience. People are constantly moving in and out of the Algarve so they have no notion who is new to the market and who has already proven himself to be true professional. Generally an experienced broker who completes at least one transaction per month and is in the business for 20 years, will theoretically have completed more than 240 sales. During some of these transactions, they may have committed mistakes from which they hopefully took a lesson. Thus, they have the ability to protect their future customers from similar errors. This is called experience.

Ask how long the real estate company already exists and since when the brokers are on the market. Ask how many customers the broker can list who voluntarily recommend and appraise him or her. Contact them and inquire about their experiences.


The truth is that some brokers do not deserve to be called competent. But there are actually also real estate agents who are highly professional. And their goal is not always the money they can earn during a transaction, but rather the challenge to control the negotiations with all their ups and downs and lead them to a safe haven. If you have found such a real estate agent, hold on to him or her, because then you have found a truly professional real estate broker.