A short step by step guide for to purchase real estate in Rio de Janeiro.

A short step by step guide for to purchase real estate in Rio de Janeiro.


Just to make things a little bit easier for foreigners that are thinking about to purchase a property in Rio de Janeiro I am putting together a simple general guide to the step by step process to do this transaction real estate transaction.


The first step would of course be to think about what kind of property you would like to purchase, something for you to live in (then a location close to your work, or public transportation such as the subway system). Maybe you would like to buy the property to give you rental income all year around, or a property that you use part of the year and want to get some rental income when you are not in Rio de Janeiro. In these cases you should get a more sought after location closer to the beach which is easier to rent out either for vacation rental clients or for relocation clients (it can be either Brazilian or foreigners that relocate to Rio for to work either for longer or shorter periods). There are many neighborhoods in Rio that has a big demand for vacation rentals, such as Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, they have different prices and kind of also different potential renter groups. If we look on property for all year around long term rentals it can also be interesting to look into both Botafogo, Flamengo, Humaita, Jardim Botanico and even Gavea, the first areas are close to the Centro of Rio de Janeiro and like this has it’s group of potential rental clients. The last neighborhoods are interesting because they are nice to live in and still in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro.


If you have not been doing property transaction before in Rio de Janeiro you should look for a serious broker, someone that can explain all details and help you the whole way and preferably also in a language you understand well so there are no misunderstandings that costs you a lot of your investment money in the end.


Alright, now you have found a couple of potential properties that you are interested in, you should have a good look at the building the properties are located I (when we talk about apartments), because you are getting married with this building your property is inside. If it is not very well managed now, for sure it will not be easy for you to change this as a just arrived foreign investor in Brazil. Go over the details for security, look for if it is clean inside corridors, elevators, and if everything is well maintained. Before you sign a contract you can ask the broker to get more information about the building and the property administration in this building. Of course you should also study if the monthly fees are high, if they are very high it can be hard for you to make something about and property that has very high monthly condominium fees can be VERY hard to sell if you want to sell your Rio de Janeiro property in the future.


Everything seems to be great!
OK, now we come into the legal process on how to purchase a property in Rio de Janeiro. First of all you will need to have a local tax number, the so called CPF number (Cadastro das Pessoas Físicas). For to register this number you will need to have some kind of a proof of address in Brazil, a good real estate agency will be able to help you with an address for to use here. The CPF is a cheap to set up, it take some time before you will be inside their tax authorities system and you will be able to use the CPF number, maybe a week this would take (nothing has perfect rules in Brazil on how long time things takes, of course if there is a strike it can take a lot longer time also). There is a possibility to do these CPF numbers on Brazilian Embassies and Consulates around the world, but usually it seems to take a lot longer time to do this process abroad than if you do it in Brazil. A good suggestion would be if you start your investment trip with to set up the CPF number, then when you have found a great property to invest in here in Rio de Janeiro you would have the CPF already finalized to use for the legal documentation.


Also when you have made yourself this CPF number you will be able to make a Power of Attorney to a lawyer or another trust worthy person for example to finalize a purchase when you are away from Brazil. Or maybe just to help you with some documentation issues. In the future a real estate agency in Rio de Janeiro would need such a power of attorney from the owner of the property for to be able to manage the apartment and the day to day issues (if there is a problem with the electricity or gas company for example, without a power of attorney nobody can resolve nothing when you are away from Rio de Janeiro).


Now there are the steps on how to purchase the property in Rio de Janeiro:
First there is a lot of documentation to go thru before you can make any kind of down payment for to secure the property for yourself (what we call a “sinal” here in Brazil). You should have professional help to evaluate such documentation, but the most important part is that you are dealing with the proper owner of the property, if it is not himself the person would need a VALID power of attorney to sell this property. There is a document called “Onus Reais”, this is a copy of the City Hall’s real estate register, this shouldn’t be more than some weeks old or maximum a month old for this to be valid for a down payment (“sinal”). This “Onus Reais” would show the information of the last deed that has been registered, if someone just shows you their old deed it might not be the last one so don’t take this for a safe document for you to initiate your transaction. Of course the last person on this copy of the “Onus Reais” is the proper owner, if it is not him you are dealing with or if the person doesn’t have a valid power of attorney from the owner then you should walk away from this transaction (if you pay any money without to be for the right seller you will for sure lose your money and don’t count with the slow Brazilian justice system to help you to get your money back either..).


When you do a down payment and make a initial contract for the down payment (to exchange contracts) to start the purchase process (this is called “Minuta de Sinal” or “Contrato de Sinal”) it is important to remember that all details on what is included, the initial payment form, the final payment form and details on when you will be able to get the keys for the property needs to be in this contract. Usually this first payment to start the real estate deal it can be used about 10% of the full value of the property, but it can be a lot less also (or even more if the seller asks for it), it is a negotiable detail. One things that is important to remember, this initial payment (Sinal) and its value is important if one of the parts regret and cancel the real estate transaction, if the seller regrets himself and will not want to sell anymore he needs to refund the initial value in double, if the buyer regret his purchase intention he will lose the money he has paid. This rule comes from the Brazilian civil law which is the basic rule for this kind of transactions. Of course there can be things that interferes with this basic rule also, it is important that you have a professional assistance to go over all details with you.


If we penetrates this initial contract (Sinal) a little bit more, you should have a period after that you have paid that you will get the right to enter the property (“Posse”), for example if the seller lives in the property he can try to go for maybe 60 days, more reasonable would be 30 days, of course of the property is empty on people you can get “Posse” in the same moment that you make the final payment to the seller.


There can also be special deals made with financing direct with the owner for some period after you enter the property, these deals are quite rare thought because it can give headache for the seller (and like this he avoids such risk).


If there is a rental client inside the apartment you are purchasing in Brazil it is important that all details about this client will be taken into the contract. Because you as a buyer will take over this client, and for example if he is a bad rent payer it will be your problem to get rid of him in the future (and this can take time in Brazil). Another thing that is important is that if there is a rental client in the property when it is sold he will need to have the first opportunity to purchase this property for the same value, if he is not offered this opportunity to purchase the property he can make a problem for this sale in the future.


Another thing that is important to go over if there is some debt on the property you are buying. This debt can hit you as the new property owner. For example old debt on condominium, on real estate taxes to the government (IPTU) or maybe on a lawsuit the owner has lost in court earlier.


The last part of the real estate transaction in Rio de Janeiro needs to be done in a Notary Office (called “Cartorio” in Brazil), the official deed will be made by the “Cartorio” and they will hand over your copy a couple of days later. When the transaction is made in the Cartorio they will need a lot of documentation, if they are not getting the complete documentation for the property (and information on the owner, if he has debt on him etc.) they will not be able to do the deed (lavrar a escritura). The Notary officer can also come to another location to make the official deed (for a fee), they can even go to other states in Brazil if needed (for a fee and money that cover their travel). Their action is valid in the whole territory of Brazil. And of course one Notary Office can get information from another one in Brazil for to be able to get all information needed about a seller etc.


Now when you have finalized your purchase of your dream property in Rio de Janeiro you will need to register your deed in the RGI so your name will appear when someone takes out a copy of the real estate register (the “Onus Reais”). This process is not a broker’s work, but some brokers and agencies will do it for a fee. There are lawyers that do this service also. You need to be patient here, it will take some time, with some luck it might be finalized in 30 to 40 days, but it can take a lot longer time, and the real estate register office (RGI) can asks for more documentation, copies or whatever for to be able to finalize the process.


If you have had your thoughts on to finance a property in Brazil, I have bad news for you, it is nearly impossible for a foreigner to get financing. And if you could get it that interest rate is so high anyway so you wouldn’t like to use it…


Safety for you to make a real estate transaction in Brazil:
Of course you will need to deal with a proper registered property agent in Brazil, they have a license that is called a CRECI with a number. You need to be aware that a lot of people that has not any knowledge what they are doing are trying to be a broker and make some money with this, of course they can make a investor lose a lot of money with their stupidity or they might even do a scam to steal money from a client. Real Real Estate agents shows on their site, business cards, on their entrance etc. this CRECI number. It is a law in Brazil that makes it to be a criminal offense to rent or sell property without being a CRECI registered broker, of course it doesn’t stop people from trying. There are always scams to cheat people on deposits both for rentals and purchase of property in Rio de Janeiro, I have in person meet many of this people coming to our office when they arrived and either the broker doesn’t exist or the address of the property is in existent….. Do yourself a favor, don’t fall for such an easy scam over Internet (or in person), check that the company you deal with has been in the market for a long time!


Written by Hakan Olsson (founder of RioApartments.com year 2000), no copying allowed without written permission!

Frequent questions and answers for Property Rio de Janeiro,

FAQ / Frequently asked questions and answers!

1) How do I get from the airport to my property?
You can go direct to our office by a taxi or order a driver from us that will pick you up in the arrival terminal in the airport and take you direct to your property.

2) Do the property have all the equipment for kitchen/bathroom and bedroom?
Yes the property has what you need but of course the amenities depends also on the level of the property, a simple property is equipped simple.

3) Is it possible to wash clothes in the property?
You can wash by hand in the simpler properties, some of the nice properties have a washing machine (look at the link to the property because in the page you will see if it has).

4) When do I pay the rent?
Upon arrival you will need to pay both the rent and the security deposit for the belongings inside the property in cash, Observation the ordinary way to pay is to bring US$, Euro or R$, if there are any special needs on how to make the payment it needs to be confirmed in advance (if it will be possible to do it in the other way).

See the whole list here in this link:
Property Rio de Janeiro frequent answers



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