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Finding a home in Brazil

Home ownership in Brazil is common — in 2017, 74% of Brazilians owned their homes.

Foreigners are also allowed to buy real estate in the country; there are no restrictions on property sales to foreign buyers and residency is not required. However, there are restrictions on rural land purchases.

While brokers can be more expensive than using a bank, the potential complexity of the mortgage market means they can be helpful in getting a good deal. Just make sure they are legitimate by getting recommendations or references from previous clients and ensuring that they are members of Conselho Regional dos Corretores de Imóveis (CRECI.)

Around 100 million homeowners in Brazil are unable to prove their ownership, so never exchange any money until you are sure that the vendor has the rights to sell the property. If the seller won’t meet you in person, or requests upfront payments then alarm bells should start ringing. It’s also an excellent rule of thumb to have all the title deeds translated to make sure there are no surprises hidden in the documents before you sign them.

While the buying process is fairly simple, there can be some variety in the payment conditions, depending on the seller. These details make the purchase-sale agreement (Compromisso Particular de Venta e Compra) even more vital as this document ensures that all parties are clear about their rights and obligations as well as the value of the deposit. There are no escrow companies in Brazil, so payments are normally made in cash. If you would prefer to use escrow, international companies can be used as a part of the process, but this requires written consent from the seller.

Estimated costs

  • Transfer tax (ITBI): 2-4% of the property value
  • Notary fees: 1.25%
  • Legal fees: 2%
  • Agent/broker fees: 3-6%

(Source: Global Property Guide.)

There is an additional real estate tax called IPTU (Imposto Predial Territorial Urbano) for property in cities and large towns. This is generally 1%-2% depending and must be paid annually.

Three out of 10 property sales are being made to foreigners, with the growth of foreign property investment likely to continue in the coming years. Investors are mainly concentrated in the north-east and south-east of the country. Many properties in the north were built at low cost and as a result have a lower value than property in southern regions. Properties in the south are some of the most expensive in the country — the balance of beaches and modern cities still makes it one of the most popular regions for foreigners looking to buy property.

Renting in Brazil

Renting is a very popular option, but it can be expensive depending on where you’d like to settle. That said, it is still typically cheaper than in many other countries popular with expats, such as the UK, Germany and Thailand. Expats with a tight budget should consider apartments rather than just houses as this can help to reduce costs. Alternatively, you may prefer a gated community, known as a condominio.

You must have a guarantor to rent in Brazil, and employers often fulfil this role as it can speed up the process. You must be able to produce proof of salary and identification documents. You may need to spend your first few weeks in a hotel until you have the relevant documents needed.

A deposit is normally required and utilities are not included in the monthly rate. IPTU (see above) does apply to tenants, although this is usually included in the quoted rates.

Tenancy contracts are typically 30 months in duration, but 12 months is becoming more common. Legal documents are usually completed in Portuguese, so expats should make sure they have a lawyer who speaks the language.

While there are a number of useful websites for finding the right property to rent, many of these are in Portuguese, including:

Local newspapers are also helpful when looking for property to rent.

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