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06, oct 21 | Reading: 9 min.

How to Understand a Real Estate Ad

Nowadays, when markets are still unsettled due to the pandemic crisis, one of the sectors that were feared to collapse has survived and performed intelligently. It is the real estate sector, one of the most necessary sectors of life today, which has managed to bounce back in the first 6 months of 2021 after the downturn in the previous year. More than 96,000 residential transactions were recorded in the first half of this year, exceeding all expectations. According to the National Institute of Statistics - INE - this was the first since reports began. Never before have more than 90,000 properties been sold in six months.


Photo by Wayhomestudio – Freepik


Now that we have revealed a little of the current reality of the real estate market, we ask you if you know all the aspects of this sector? We present you some topics that appear in the ads for houses for sale or rent properties and land. Through the house ad, you have the first contact with the person or company responsible for the intention to sell the property. In addition, through the advertisement for the property, the future owner learns about its characteristics. Do you know exactly the topics that make up an ad for a house for sale?


In this article, you will learn all about one of the most flourishing sectors that Portugal has to offer today, and you will be enlightened about the different denominations of these properties.



What types of real estate are there in the market?


We can say that the term residential real estate is familiar to most people because it represents the area we occupy, in other words, our home. But there are other types of real estate. Do we know how to distinguish them?


  • Residential real estate

The function of this type of real estate is, as the name suggests, for housing. They can be apartments or villas with several rooms and even floors, located on a plot of land or in a building.


Apartment: is a dwelling inserted in a building with an entrance leading to a stairway, terrace, or hallway. Here you can see an example: a 3-bedroom apartment in Lagos.


Duplex: is also an apartment but spread over two floors and connected by stairs or other means. It is also inserted into a building, just like a single storey apartment. See an example of a duplex here.


Penthouse: it is a highly valued apartment because it is located on the top floor of the building and offers an unobstructed view. See an example of a penthouse here.


Villa: a property in an isolated or semi-detached space and whose exit door provides access to the street or a plot of land belonging to the property. See an example here: a 4-bedroom villa in Praia da Luz.


Semi-detached villa: is a property that shares the same plot with one or more other villas, where they share the same wall and even the construction structure. See an example of a semi-detached villa.


Luxury home: it features high-quality finishes that last longer than traditional homes. It has a larger area, a prestigious location, and can be an apartment or a villa. See an example of a luxury villa here.


Photo by Redd – Unsplash


  • Commercial property


Commercial property, unlike the previous property, is not used as a dwelling. It is intended to assist the owner or tenant in his business activities. This structure can only be used for this purpose and never as a dwelling.


Commercial Service Property: this type of property is intended for commercial services, such as medical offices, nursing homes, schools, or other administrative offices that provide services. An example of commercial property for services: commercial premises in Lagos.


Commercial property for direct sale: these can be shops that directly serve the public, but can also be operated as service providers. This category of properties can be found in streets, galleries or shopping malls. Get to know one of these examples: retail shop for sale in Burgau.


Warehouse property: this is a commercial building designed to shop for goods. These properties are usually very large and located in industrial areas with good access.



  • Plots of land


This is a land sold without buildings, to be built upon according to its characteristics. In this type of sale, there are three types of land, namely, rural, urban, and mixed.


Did you know...

Starting in 2022 there will be new legislation in Portugal for this type of investment. Last year there was a huge demand for plots and those who did so probably came across the term - "terreno urbanizável" (land suitable for construction). The change in the law next year will be that there will only be two forms of land: urban land and rural land. By the end of 2022, anyone who already owns land classified as urban land and wants to build on it will have to obtain a permit for the construction plans. If no such application is made after that date, the land will be classified as rural land, without the possibility of building on it.


Rustic land: an area of land which, if located in a rural area, may not be built upon, with a few exceptions for buildings used to support or store agricultural activity.


Urban Land: is an area designated for urbanization and residential construction. It may be divided into parcels that are later sold separately for the construction of vertical or horizontal condominiums, one or two-family dwellings, and others. See the example of three plots for construction.


Mixed land: it is the union of the last two descriptions of the land. In mixed land, there is a part that is meant for farming and another part that is meant for the construction of a building. The land designated for construction may be a dwelling or a storage area to support the business.


What are house typologies?


House typologies determine the number of bedrooms and other rooms. They are usually abbreviated with the letter "T" followed by the number of bedrooms, e.g., "T2", which means the property has two bedrooms. The living room, kitchen, bathrooms and storage rooms are not included in this abbreviated description. The number of bedrooms is unlimited, and you can find properties where the number after "T" is zero. In this case, it is a studio where there is no bedroom division. It's also common to find the description "T2+1" in sales ads, which means the home has two bedrooms and another similar space, such as an office.


In addition to the "T", there is a separate description for villas. Here we replace the "T" with the "V" for a villa. The "V" is also followed by the number of rooms and other similar rooms are indicated with the symbol + (more).


Photo by Mindandi – Freepik


Plot Area vs Build Area


How many times have you come across the terms plot area and build area in an ad for the sale of a house and wondered what they mean? In the real estate market, the criteria for valuing a home is exactly every square meter that the property has. For example, if you find a value of 2,500 euros per m2, do you know what area this value refers to? Find out the difference between the different areas quoted and carry out a beneficial, conscious deal. You should always ask the seller which area the value per m2 refers to.


Plot area: is the total area of the property as measured by the outer perimeter of the walls. It includes private balconies, storage areas such as storerooms and garages. It also includes the area of common circulation areas if it is a building.


Build area: is always an area that is less than the plot area of the property. The reason for this is that in this case only the internal perimeter of the walls is measured.


Private plot area: it is not so common to see this item in an advertisement for a house for sale, but if you find it, you should know that it has a similar meaning to the plot area, but here open balconies, garages or storage rooms are not calculated.


Dependent area: refers to the area other than the private plot area. In other words, it is the measurement of storage rooms, garages or balconies. This is also not a common measurement in advertisements of houses for sale.


What is the energy certificate in Portugal?


The Energy Performance Certificate is a mandatory document for all houses for sale or rent. Since 2013, this document has been mandatory and aims to certify the energy efficiency of the house using a scale from A+ to F (A+, A, B, B-, C, D, F). The A+ scale represents a more efficient home, and F represents a less efficient home. After a certified assessment of the property, the certificate is issued by ADENE and is valid for 10 years. Always look for companies that are qualified for energy certification.


The document shall list the following energy consumption characteristics:


Climatization: if the property for sale or rent has some special features, such as double glazing in the windows with access to the outside, the energy efficiency will be increased. Apart from double glazing, another effective aspect of air conditioning the house is the use of thermal insulation. This small detail helps fix the ambient temperature in the house by preventing cold or heat from penetrating through the floor or walls.


Heating of plumbing systems: houses may have several systems for heating plumbing systems, sometimes more than one. The most common systems in Portuguese homes are fuelled by butane or natural gas, and the water is piped through a water heater. Another option, also widely used, is electric heating, where the water flows through a thermal storage tank. Finally, and perhaps most efficient, is heating the water through a solar panel system.


Indication of measures to reduce energy consumption: the certificate will also indicate what improvements need to be made to the property to improve its energy efficiency. Some of the measures to be taken are quite easy to implement in practice. Appliances should have low consumption and the newer they are, the more efficient they are and have an 'A' energy rating. Replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones is also recommended, as they are more economical and last longer.


Did you know…

Until December 31, 2021, there is an Environmental Fund incentive plan that serves as an incentive for homes in Portugal to become more efficient. This is a co-financing of 85% of the expenses (in 2020 it was only 70%) for energy efficiency measures in your home. Find out more about this support here.



Nowadays, there are many ads for home sales that you can find on advertising platforms, social networks or even newspapers. These ads contain a lot of important information that will make you want to schedule a viewing of the property for sale. Before you visit the property, you should fully understand the data that is initially displayed to you and think about whether it is a good investment or if it would be opportune to take this time. If you have any doubts about the house characteristics, tell the seller or the agent in charge.


The experience of the Casas do Barlavento team is vast, so we can filter the properties that interest you according to your criteria, thus reducing your search time. You can also use our search engine to look for properties for sale or holiday rentals.