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Short description / Current status and future steps / Lessons learned:
= Case description =
‘On the spot house’, or in Portuguese, Casa Pronta, is a public service which allows all the necessary formalities to be performed for the purchase and sale of homes (buildings), with or without a mortgage, the transfer of a bank loans to purchase a house and other housing contracts, in a single window service.
Before the implementation of the ‘On the Spot House project’, to perform legal transactions on immovable properties, such as the purchase and sale or simple loan with mortgage, citizens and companies had to contact several public entities, such as: tax authorities; notaries; land register office; municipal services; entities responsible for the management of the historical and cultural patrimony; commercial Register Office and Civil Register Office. For a simple purchase and sale of a property it was necessary, for example, to obtain several certificates from the Land register office, the Commercial Register Office or the Municipal Council. In addition, a property’s tax document from the Revenue Office was also required. It was also necessary to conclude a deed in the notary office and to request and wait for the registries and the availability of the certificates, since the registries are carried out immediately and the certificates delivered to the interested parties.
Business in an immovable property implied, in short, frequent and repeated visits to several public services to request and later on to obtain documents, to schedule acts and later on to materialise them, and so on, which had high costs. This situation represented a major weakness within the Portuguese real estate market and, consequently, within the economic activity in general.
This project was based on the analysis of the then existing situation, evaluating the need of each formality associated with businesses in immovable properties, in order to eliminate useless steps and to concentrate the ones which were necessary into a single place, thus avoiding repeated dislocations, saving time and money. There is a Simplification Commission in the Ministry of Justice, essentially for representatives of all civil society areas, including employees’ and employers’ associations, legal practitioners and representatives of several economic activities. This commission identified excessive bureaucracy associated with businesses in immovable properties as an important barrier to the economic activity, with costs to citizens and companies. Once the problem was identified, a work group was created within the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, which included registrars from the land registry and other experts from the Portuguese Institute of Registries and Notary, and it became the entity responsible for rethinking the process within the land register offices and proceeding to the respective re-engineering, as well as, as a result, preparing the necessary legislative amendments. At the implementation stage, this work group was also integrated by ITIJ technicians, for the design of technological solutions supporting the project. This service became available on 24 July 2007, at seven land register offices, five Portuguese municipalities, covering only purchase and sale, simple loan and any other credit and financing contracts concluded by credit institutions, mortgage and transfer of credits.