The evolution and dynamics of the real estate sector call for an effort to modernise the applicable legislation with a view to avoiding situations of risk and uncertainty.


e legal frameworks applicable to the real estate sector continue to be misaligned with today’s demands, causing situations of risk and uncertainty that could be avoided. For instance, how can we still justify the lack of a single digital document for each real estate property, collating its relevant information (ownership, encumbrances, area, boundaries, etc.) in a complete, clear and systematic way, as opposed to the current system, where the same property is registered with the Land Registry Office and with the Tax Authority – with incomplete and often contradictory information.

Fortunately, we have begun to see efforts at modernisation by the legislator, introducing or emphasising the importance of technology and digitalisation. Three examples are worth considering:

a)      Remote authentic acts

In response to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Decree-Law no. 126/2021 of 30 December was approved, establishing a legal regime, of a temporary, optional nature, which allows for the carrying out, by videoconference, of authentic acts, the authentication of private documents and recognitions that require the presence of the parties involved. The aim is for citizens to be able to carry out these acts in a simpler and more efficient way, without having to travel.

To this end, the Portuguese Ministry of Justice provides an online remote service platform for carrying out these acts, available on the Justice Portal website (Portal da Justiça), which offers access to videoconferencing sessions. Participants need nothing more than their ID (citizen's card) or digital mobile key to authenticate themselves on the platform, as well as an active digital signature to carry out any authentic acts that require a signature.

This regime is particularly relevant for the real estate sector, seeing as it allows, for example, the remote execution of property sale and purchase deeds, thus promoting greater speed and efficiency in closing property transactions.

b)      Real Estate One-Stop Shop

The Real Estate One-Stop Shop (BUPi – Balcão Único do Prédio) is a physical and virtual service desk, established by Law no. 78/2017 of 17 August, which aggregates the registry, land registry, and georeferenced information of mixed and rural properties in Portugal.

The purpose of BUPi is to identify in detail land located in municipalities where there is no land registry.

To identify and register land online, owners only need to (i) authenticate themselves using their citizen's card or digital mobile key (chave móvel digital); (ii) locate their property, identifying its boundaries; (iii) sign a term of responsibility; and (iv) submit the process for assessment and validation by a member of staff who will check that the information is in order. Land can also be identified and registered at one of the physical BUPi service desks located in participating municipalities, with the support of a qualified member of staff.

BUPi is particularly relevant in that, by georeferencing land in detail, it helps avoid the usual conflicts arising from alleged overlapping of plots of land. To this end, BUPi introduces mechanisms for the resolution of this type of conflict, such as public consultation to identify land boundaries.

c)   Electronic Platform for Urban Planning Procedures

Draft Law no. 77/XV was recently approved, authorising the government to reform and simplify licensing procedures in the field of urban and land use planning. This is a mere legislative authorisation, which still needs to be implemented.

Draft Law no. 77/XV provides for the creation of an Electronic Platform for Urban Planning Procedures. This platform, which must be implemented by 5 January 2026, aims to standardise licensing procedures across the country’s various municipalities and gather the information on each process on a single platform. This platform will make it possible to submit applications online,verify the status of processes and deadlines, receive electronic notifications, and obtain certificates of exemption from urban planning procedures. Among other features, it will allow the future submission of requests in Building Information Modelling (BIM) format.

Given the many difficulties faced by property developers and, in general, private individuals in dealing with licensing procedures (delays, discrepancies in procedures between municipalities, difficulty in interaction, etc.), the introduction of this platform will certainly be an asset.

The evolution of the real estate sector will continue to bring increasingly complex legal requirements and challenges (just think of phenomena such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and virtual reality). As such, it is essential that the legislator increasingly invests in this modernisation effort with a view to strengthening the security and trust of all those involved in this market.

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