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Finding, Buying and Renting for Expats in Brazil

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: June 2014

There is a wide selection of accommodation types available in Brazil. Apartments dominate, though at the expensive end of the market is the fazenda or country house. Especially in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, gated expat communities are also available.

Finding Property

While you are in your home country, the internet will be your best property-searching tool. Some popular websites for both rental and purchase are given below:

Once you have arrived in Brazil, you will be able to look in local newspapers and walk around the area you want to live looking for available properties. There may also be adverts in shop windows or on bulletin boards, for example in supermarkets. Alternatively, you can visit estate agents local to the area.

Renting

Partly due to the restrictions on non-residents obtaining mortgages, it is usual for newly arrived expats to rent property in Brazil. Although rented accommodation is generally easy to come by, this may not always be the case as there is an acute housing shortage in Brazil. In coastal towns favoured by retired Europeans, such as those in the North-East, cheap, short-term rents are often available. This may be a good rental option to consider while you are still finding your feet in the country.

Bear in mind that most rented property is unfurnished; this may mean that the property has no fittings at all; the remaining properties are partly furnished (with fittings and white goods), or fully furnished. You need to obtain a tax identity card from the Taxpayer Registry (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas, or CPF) before you will be permitted to rent a property in Brazil. Obtaining this document is a relatively straightforward procedure if you are already in Brazil.

The initial outlay for renting a property is normally quite low. The typical security deposit in Brazil is one months’ rent, though up to three months may be demanded. Rent amounts are normally exclusive of bills. The typical tenancy period is long, at around two years.

Buying property

The Brazilian housing market is robust and growing rapidly. In 2013, property prices rose by an average of 6.5% in real terms, though far greater increases have occurred in the smaller cities: in Curitiba in the South for example, there was a real price increase of almost 30%. There is a huge housing shortage in Brazil at present. Many people buy property during the construction stage, as the value may subsequently increase by as much as half again.

Non-residents are ostensibly free to buy Brazilian property. However, it is not possible to obtain a mortgage from a Brazilian lender without a permanent residence card. Buying off-plan may be a way round this, as the developer may be amenable to lending you money. Further restrictions apply: you cannot buy rural property, and buying any property within 95 miles of international borders or on the coast needs special government permission. If you are able to buy a property by paying in cash, you will still need to obtain a tax identity (CPF) card before the purchase process can begin.

To buy a property, you will also need to present your passport, taxpayer’s number and proof of solvency (from the Brazilian Tax office.) As all properties are managed by estate agents, you will need to deal with one.

All properties built in the last 40 years come with a matrícula, which is like a title deed. Once you have had you offer on a property accepted, you will need to pay a deposit of from 5 to 20 percent. You will then need to open a Brazilian bank account to do this. From this point, a notary will be in charge of overseeing the purchase process. It is important to check the title is clear of any impediments such as existing mortgages. If you are looking to buy a resale property, it is highly advisably to have a bilingual lawyer to help to do this and represent your interests.

The buyer can expect to pay total transaction costs of around 5% to 8%, breaking down as follows:

  • Legal fees 2%
  • Stamp duty 1-3%
  • Registration fees 2%

 

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