Buying property in China? Our guide covers legal, financial, and cultural aspects. Explore tips and insights for a successful real estate investment.
Moving to Brazil? You might be wondering: can Americans buy property in Brazil?
Owning a place of your own can be a great way to put down roots — and may be a long term investment too.
If you want to know how to buy property in Brazil as an American you’re in the right place. We’ll cover all there is to know about how to find and buy a new home in Brazil, and what it may cost you.
|Before you move to Brazil, check out the digital multi-currency accounts and international transfer services from global money transmitter Wise. Wise isn’t a bank, but it can be a handy option for many day to day money needs, including holding, sending and spending both BRL and USD, with mid-market rate currency conversion.|
According to industry analysts, the Brazilian property market on average is expected to grow at a rate of 6% per year between 2018 and 2028¹.
Although the covid pandemic slowed the market somewhat — as it did elsewhere — it seems to have recovered well, especially in luxury and super-luxury segments as richer Brazilians look for homes with more space and more amenities after their lockdown experiences.
Luxury apartments are bought and sold most frequently in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but there’s also plenty of other accommodation options here and in other Brazilian cities.
Researching the area you’re interested in — and getting good local advice — is crucial to make sure you find the perfect property for your needs.
Foreigners can buy most property types in Brazil freely — the main exception is with rural properties, and properties in places of strategic significance which may be subject to restrictions.
Rural properties in general can not be bought as an investment by foreigners — you’d need to be planning to move in and use the land as it was intended.
Make sure you get a good local team on hand to support your purchase, and to help you understand restrictions on foreign ownership and where they may apply.
Aside from a few restrictions — usually relating to rural properties — you’re free to buy a home in Brazil as an American. Before you start looking for a new home it’s important to research the options available, and set a realistic budget — this guide will help.
Brazil has a developed property market. That means that while buying a property in Brazil may not work in quite the same way as buying a new home in the US, it should be safe as long as you have good local legal support in Brazil.
Here’s an outline of the process you have to follow to buy property in Brazil from the USA:
Step 1. Research properties online and in person, to find the right one for you
Step 2. Hire a local Brazilian lawyer to guide you through the process
Step 3. Get a CPF number (tax ID)
Step 4. Once you have found a property and agreed an offer price, your lawyer will draft a purchase and sale agreement
Step 5. Pay a downpayment of 5% — 10% of the property value
Step 6. Complete due diligence checks — your lawyer will do this for you in most cases
Step 7. Pay all taxes and registration fees
Step 8. Sign the paperwork with the notary and have the purchase registered
Step 9. Pay the final amount to the seller, and close the deal
When your lawyer pulls together the purchase and sale agreement you can agree a timeline to close the sale. This usually is 40 to 45 days from signing the original agreement.
The most important documents needed when buying property in Brazil as a foreigner are:
- Your passport or other proof of ID such as your birth certificate
- Your Brazilian CPF
- Power of attorney if you can not be present at the closing of the sale
If other documents are needed based on your personal situation you’ll be told by your lawyer — another reason that having a trusted local advisor is essential.
One important factor when it comes to the best place to buy property in Brazil is cost. If you’re headed to Brazil for work you may have a definite location in mind — but if you’re moving to retire or simply enjoy a different way of life, maybe you have some flexibility.
Here’s a look at how much you might expect to pay when buying Brazilian real estate.
Housing costs in Brazil do vary widely depending on the type of property and where you want to live. Most cities have a huge range of housing types to suit every price point, so if you have a budget in mind you should find something you like.
To give an idea, let’s look at some average prices shared by Numbeo.com which aggregates live cost of living data from around the world, to show average costs of everything from a meal to a new home.
|Price (sqft) in the city center||Price (sqft) outside of city center|
|São Paulo²||251.42 USD||181.31 USD|
|Rio de Janeiro³||217.57 USD||129.05 USD|
|Brasília⁴||209.23 USD||132.65 USD|
|Belo Horizonte⁵||161.57 USD||98.05 USD|
Note: data correct at time of research — 24th July 2023
As with anywhere in the world, when buying property in Brazil as a foreigner there will be additional costs on top of the final purchase price you’re able to negotiate.
Here are some key costs to consider:
The seller typically covers all estate agent costs but this still leaves an approximate cost of 7% of the purchase price to pay in taxes and fees, when buying a property in Brazil.
💡 Banks usually add a spread on the mid-market exchange rate and overcharge on international transfers.
Make sure to get the most BRL from your USD by using Wise, a secure and transparent way of moving your money abroad.
Foreigners in Brazil may be able to get a mortgage, but banks make their own eligibility rules, which can make it pretty tricky.
If you want to take a local Brazilian mortgage you may have the best chance if you engage a trusted local broker who can advise you on the banks which offer mortgages to people in your specific situation.
Major banks such as Caixa®, Banco Itaú® — and global banks with a presence in Brazil, like Santander®, are usually a good place to start.
Now that we covered all the basic costs of purchasing your dream Brazilian home, the only question left is: how to send money to pay for your property overseas?
Wise offers you a quick, secure and transparent way of sending money to Brazil. You get the mid-market exchange rate for your payments and see how much it’s charged for the transfer before sending the money from your bank.
With the Wise Account you can also hold 40+ currencies, spend money in 150+ countries, and receive like a local in 9 different currencies.
Whether you’re determined to buy property in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or you’re looking for a rural retreat with a lower price tag, there’s something out there for you.
Popular cities with expats include Rio and São Paulo — which can be expensive but offers established and vibrant expat communities with great access to amenities and solid infrastructure.
Or you might prefer Brasília, considered to be a safe and affluent destination where salaries on average can be higher than in many other areas in Brazil.
Finally, Belo Horizonte might be a good pick as somewhere to access affordable accommodation with solid infrastructure and an established expat community.
Learn more about the cost of living in different popular cities in Brazil here.
The best place to start when finding real estate in Brazil is to look at online real estate resources such as these:
- Viva Real⁷
You’ll be able to browse, filter and search options to start to get a feel for the market wherever you’re headed.
However, there’s no substitute for a visit in person to view properties and check the area you’ve picked will suit your needs. Line up a great real estate agent to help you, and make the process smoother.
The most important thing when buying a property overseas is to have someone you trust in the country to help guide you through an unfamiliar system.
There are many Brazilian lawyers who can specialize in supporting expat buyers, and who will know the types of questions you’re likely to ask.
Aside from this, bear in mind the following financial considerations:
It’s generally safe to buy property in Brazil as long as you have a trusted local real estate agent and lawyer to support you.
There are scammers in Brazil as there are anywhere else, so watch out for things that look to be too good to be true, don’t try to cut corners, and have a great local team on hand to make sure everything works OK for you.
So there you have it — a full guide to buying a property in Brazil as an American. Use this to start thinking about your budget, where to buy and how you get started, and don’t forget to check out Wise as a smart way to send payments from the US to Brazil with the mid-market rate and low, transparent fees.
- Mordor intelligence — Brazil real estate
- Numbeo — cost of living São Paulo
- Numbeo — cost of living Rio de Janeiro
- Numbeo — cost of living Brasília
- Numbeo — cost of living Belo Horizonte
- Global Property Guide — Brazil
- Viva Real
Sources checked on 07.25.2023
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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