Where to buy real estate in Brazil
Brazil has the reputation for having the best beaches in the world. Ask a Brazilian and they will tell you that Ceará has the best beaches in Brazil. We cannot disagree. Kitesurfers and windsurfers have long kept this stretch of coastline a secret. Looking east and west and seeing virgin beach stretch as far as the eye can see, you have to wonder how they kept it secret for so long. In places along the coast, these wide, white-sand beaches are reminiscent of parts of Florida’s coast—without the crowds.
Serving as the glimmering centerpiece for the state of Ceará (on Brazil’s northeast coast), the capital city of Fortaleza is our top destination in Brazil right now. Thanks to the state’s investment in roads and infrastructure—as well as the Department of Tourism’s current publicity campaign—tourism in the area has jumped 25% in less than two years.
Fortaleza boasts its own beautiful in-city beaches, a sizzling nightlife, and great restaurants. The city has three sides: its old historic center and non-touristy downtown areas; a gleaming in-town stretch of beach with great waterfront restaurants and highrises; and quieter sections of beautiful, palm-lined white-sand beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean.
The seaside boardwalk is cheerful and bustling day and night, with joggers, strollers and swimmers. It hosts one of the region’s best artisan handicraft markets, with hundreds of artisans showing their wares. It’s a combination of lifestyle choices that’s pretty hard to beat.
Property samples in Fortaleza:
- Just two blocks in from the beach, is a 1,000-square-foot apartment, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, maid’s quarters, balcony, and garage space. Price: $83,800 (R$145,000).
- In the Iracema neighborhood (close to the beach) is a new 14th-floor apartment with 774 square feet of living space for sale. It has ocean views, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and one parking space. Price: $112,700 (R$195,000).
Located between Recife to the south and Natal to the north, João Pessoa is the easternmost city in the western hemisphere, and is often called “the city where the sun rises first”. This clean, modern, and cheerful city of over 670,000 has a lot to offer. It’s as nice as any coastal city you’ll find in Brazil—nicer than most—yet it operates at a noticeably slower, more easy-going pace.
João Pessoa holds the title of the world’s second greenest city (according to the UN), thanks to almost 1,300 acres of Atlantic Rainforest within the city limits, as well as numerous parks and tree-lined streets.
João Pessoa is also the safest capital city in Brazil, with reference to crime, and the air in the city is reputedly some of the cleanest worldwide.
The oceanfront boardwalk along the palm-lined beach is alive and energetic, with the ever-present coconut stands and juice bars, as well as an artisan market and a number of waterfront restaurants. There are always plenty of people jogging, biking, or just walking along chatting. The beachfront road even closes each day between 5.30 a.m. and 8 a.m. to make room for everyone. We find the relaxed and healthy atmosphere here to be refreshing.
Over the past two years, João Pessoa has really taken off as a second home destination. What was once an overlooked city, is now in demand by Brazilian second-home owners as well as the IL readership.
- Just south of the beach area of Cabo Branco, the Antiplano neighborhood is the latest hot-spot for developers and investors. A new project there, due for delivery in 2014, includes three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 947-square-foot apartments with ocean views and luxury furnishings, in addition to a long list of amenities, including bike paths and movie house. Price: $142,500 (R$246,500).
- A new apartment is for sale in the heart of the Tambaú neighborhood, with ocean views and 700 square feet of living area, including two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The building has garage swimming pool, a gym, and barbecue facilities. Price: $161,850 (R$280,000).
Buying real estate in Brazil
The process for buying property is simple but somewhat different from elsewhere in Latin America. Here more than anywhere, it is worth having good, competent legal counsel. Engage your lawyer in the process before you sign anything.
- Make an offer and come to terms. This is done rather informally when compared to the U.S. The initial offer in Brazil is usually conveyed by phone or in person. At this stage, you and the seller will agree in principle to a price and any general terms.
- Get your CPF card. This will be your permanent tax ID. This is a simple process, and most attorneys can do this for you quite easily. Often a real estate agent will obtain it free, as part of the transaction.
- Prepare the promessa de compra e venda. Your attorney or real estate agent can draw this up for you. It’s good practice to have your attorney review it, and if you don’t speak Portuguese, you should have it translated into English; or at least have an English-speaking attorney or realtor “walk you through it”.
- Present the promessa de compra e venda (the final offer/agreement) to the seller. Now that you’ve got everything in writing, the seller will want to see the final product before he signs it officially.
- Execute the promessa de compra e venda. This can be done in the presence of a document notary. The promessa is not normally publicly recorded.
- Make the required down-payment. The payment is usually transferred directly to the seller’s account, within the period of time specified in the promessa. In order to retrieve the funds, the seller must present the signed promessa, to prove where the money came from and its purpose. Down payment is normally 10%, but can be negotiated. We’ve seen them as low as .75% with developers, and higher in private sales.
- Create the escritura. The preparation of the escritura will be done by the notary.
- Make final payment: Again, this is transferred directly to the owner.
- Register the escritura with the registry. Registration is done with a “property notary”.
There are no restrictions on foreign property buyers who are purchasing urban land, beachfront properties, houses, or condos. Foreigners have the same rights as Brazilians, and residency is not required.
There are, however, restrictions on foreigners who wish to buy large tracts of rural land used for agricultural purposes. If you’re considering a large land purchase, consult your attorney for guidance.
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