Legal/financial conflicts of interest?

My wife and I are American citizens working with a legal firm in Lisbon to assist us with the Golden Visa process through real estate investment.

After extensive research into the VC investment route, we decided that we’d prefer property investment at the 280,000 euro level in low-density areas. But we’ve encountered a troubling situation.

Rather than connecting us with reliable real estate firms as we requested, our lawyer has instead presented us with an “opportunity” to invest our $280K euros in a multi-unit property slated for redevelopment in the Alentejo region.

Not only is the lawyer himself the CEO of the company redeveloping the property, he told us that he is considering buying one of the units for his own family.

Now, this situation seems to be riddled with clear conflicts. Rather than objectively representing his clients’ interests, the lawyer has a personal financial interest in our investment in this property, and, moreover, he is positioning himself to perform the legal management of the transaction on our behalf. What could possibly go wrong?

Has anyone else encountered a situation like this in their Golden Visa process? Is there any conceivable legitimate reason for a lawyer interposing himself into the investment process in such a fashion?

Any advice much appreciated.

Thanks,

–Mark Morris

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Hi Mark,

I’ll start with saying that you should consider terminating your engagement with this lawyer.
Now with regards to my own experience, I started my process with the property search by going through the aggregator websites and then contacting the real estate agents for the shortlisted properties.
Obviously the real estate agents were representing the interests of the seller, so once I have chosen the best property only then I hired a lawyer to do the conveyancing. And again I found them myself independently of the real estate agent.
Thinking of conflict of interests, I had a very minor one later on in the process where the real estate agent acted as an interpreter for me during the signing of the deed (which is a legal requirement in Portugal if any party of the transaction do not speak Portuguese). I could see no risk in that as by that time a certain trust was already built and also I was able to read and understand the deeds in Portuguese myself anyway.
Hope this helps. There is also an excellent post here by xraydelta covering the property research part of the process.
By the way, if it can be of any use to you, DM me for the real estate contact as I worked with a big name agency in Portugal, so I am sure they offer properties in low-density parts.

1 Like

Hi Mark.

“What could possibly go wrong?” says it all. Run from this lawyer. The only thing sure in this proposed arrangement is that you will over pay for your property and be under-represented (which may be much worse than over paying). Tommy seemed to have good advice, above. My only addition/amendment would be to try and find a method to determine what real properties actually sell for, before entering into any negotiations. I saw a string on this site that gave some helpful tips on that front. Once you determine that your target property qualifies for the GV and you have a fair price range in mind for your property then you can move forward with confidence and independence. Keep your lawyer far away from the property vendor, developer, etc…

Allan