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How to Buy Real Estate in Brazil as a Foreigner

How to Buy Properties in Brazil

Buying real estate in Brazil may be one of the best business opportunities nowadays for foreign buyers. Here we describe the 12 steps you need to follow to safely buy property in Brazil as a foreigner. You can also read this page in Portuguese, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Reading time: 10 minutes.


  1. Do It Yourself or Hire a Lawyer

    It usually comes down to how familiar you are with Brazil and how much you are paying for your property. People with solid connections with locals may rely on trustworthy realtors to help with some of the acquisition steps. This may be enough for smaller acquisitions such as lots in the coastal areas of Brazil. Investors who don’t have such networking and/or are buying higher-amount properties such as a condo in Sao Paulo should retain a lawyer.
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  2. Check Property Records

    Once you have chosen your target property, you should obtain a copy of the property deed (“escritura”). The deed should have an exact description of the property, ownership, and if any major problems (e.g.: liens, usufruto, encumbrances, or disputes) are attached to the property. A clean deed should show no major issues, be registered in the name of the seller, and issued recently. You should avoid purchasing properties under probates, divorcing couples, or any other complex situation. 
    Although some sellers will offer to give you a copy of the deed, we recommend that you obtain a copy of the deed directly from the registration office in charge of the target real estate.
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  3. Draft Purchase & Sale Agreement

    The Purchase & Sale Agreement document addresses not only the terms of sale but also the timeline for the transactions and allocation of obligations and rights to the parties. Among other concerns, stipulate at least 60 days between the signature of the agreement and the closing to allow enough time for all the closing-related tasks to be completed. Never allow a realtor to rush you. Realtors in Brazil will invariably pest you until you either sign a contract or tell them not to rush you. Realtors may lie about the existence of other interested parties to push you to make a deal.
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  4. Provide a Downpayment

    In Brazil, it is customary to provide a downpayment as soon as the Draft Purchase & Sale Agreement is signed. The amount to be provided varies greatly. Amounts going from 5% to 15% are most common, although other amounts may be negotiated by the parts. We recommend that you pay no more than 10% as a downpayment. You should hold most of the payment until the closing as this is the most effective way to reduce the many purchase risks involved. Important: there is practically no title insurance or escrow accounts in Brazil. 
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  5. Send the Money to Brazil

    For a Brazilian seller to receive a bank transfer from abroad, the Brazil Central Bank must authorize the transaction. The amount being sent must match exactly the amount shown in the signed contract. It is also necessary for the seller to “open an exchange account” with their bank. This may be a turnoff for some sellers, although many individual sellers will learn about that only after they already signed the Purchase and Sale Agreement with you.
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  6. Obtain a Brazilian Tax ID “CPF”

    The CPF Tax ID card is one of the most important documents a person has in Brazil as it is used by both private and government entities to identify citizens. CPF stands for Register of Individual Taxpayers (Cadastro de Pessoa Física). Each CPF represents a unique number stored and validated by the Brazilian Federal Revenue. A card is usually issued along with the number upon application. You must have a CPF for purchasing a real estate property in Brazil. You also must have it for many other purposes such as opening a bank account or filing your taxes.
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  7. Obtain Certificates for Property and Seller

    Clearance certificates must be obtained regarding both the property and the seller. The registration office will require some of such certificates to be presented during the closing. So, in addition to showing that many of the potential legal issues don’t exist (e.g.: unpaid taxes, labor disputes, etc.) such certificates are also a formal requirement for the closing. When we conduct our due diligence procedure, we obtain and assess more certificates than the minimum required by the registration office. We do so to cover more potential issues that may exist in addition to the more basic ones. More on:
    certificates on the seller and certificates on the property.

  8. Prepare for Closing

    Once you have signed the contract, the clock starts to tick. Sellers will usually add to the contract penalties in case you are not ready for the closing by a certain deadline. A checklist with all the items required for the closing may help you and your lawyer control everything that should be ready by the closing date. At this stage, the realtor supporting the seller will usually coordinate with the registration office to obtain the estimates for Taxes and Registration costs and also a target date for the closing.
    You can learn more about the preparation for the closing and see a sample Closing Checklist to use when buying a property in Brazil.
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  9. Have Documents Translated by a Sworn Translator

    For documents to be acceptable in Brazil they must have been sworn translated into Portuguese. Sworn translations are provided exclusively by Brazilian sworn translators registered with the State Commerce Boards. Do not buy translation services from companies outside of Brazil since they are unable to provide sworn translations in Brazil unless they are reselling the services of a Brazilian sworn translator. Note that a sworn translator is not the same thing as what is considered a “certified translation” in the US or UK. These are two different things. List of Sworn Translators in Brazil.
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  10. Obtain a POA – Power of Attorney Valid in Brazil

    A POA is needed if you want your lawyer or someone from your network to participate in the closing on your behalf. The registration is a formal procedure that is usually done in the same registration office in charge of the real estate. For a POA to be valid in Brazil, it must be a “Public POA”. Public POAs may be done in Brazil, or in a Brazilian consulate or embassy as long as the grantor is a Brazilian citizen. For foreign citizens, whenever doing a POA abroad, some very specific steps in their home countries for a POA to be acceptable by the registration office in Brazil.
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  11. Pay Registration & Taxes

    A POA is needed if you want your lawyer or someone from your network to participate in the closing on your behalf. The registration is a formal procedure that is usually done in the same registration office in charge of the real estate. For a POA to be valid in Brazil, it must be a “Public POA”. Public POAs may be done in Brazil, or in a Brazilian consulate or embassy as long as the grantor is a Brazilian citizen. For foreign citizens, whenever doing a POA abroad, some very specific steps in their home countries for a POA to be acceptable by the registration office in Brazil.
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  12. Attend Closing, Pay Balance, and Record Deed

    The closing will usually take place at the registration office in charge of the “Escritura”. For the closing to happen, the fees and taxes will have to be paid and confirmed previously and all the required clearance certificates filed with the registration office. Some registration offices will read aloud the “Escritura” document and then ask for the parties to sign it. In our practice, it is only at this stage that we release the payment to the seller.
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More Info on Brazil Real Estate

Investors from many countries are taking advantage by buying both residential and commercial properties in Brazil. If you are still considering the pros and cons of buying real estate in Brazil, you may want to check some of the main reasons to buy real estate in Brazil and where to find real estate to buy in Brazil.

General Information Purpose Only

This content is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal issues or decisions of any kind, the reader should retain and consult legal counsel. You should not act or rely on the information on this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney. The determination of whether you need legal services and your choice of a lawyer are very important matters that should not be based on websites or advertisements.