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                                                                            Getting a Piece of Brazil

                                                   There is an expression "Who doesn't register
                                         is not the owner." Your contracts and agreements are
                                                   not valid until they are registered in Cartório.

                                                                                               Boris Gol dshmit

Brazil is a fantastic country that can offer some outstanding life -style opportunities for the right person.
Unfortunately, there is not much informat ion availab le for people looking into something more than a brief
tourist adventure. Property purchase requires detailed understanding of the requirements of the law and the
dynamics of the search, negotiation and buying processes.

This article is not intended to serve as an authoritative source of information related to dealing with a
variety of situations in Brazil. Instead, it serves the purpose of answering some of the most common
questions pertaining to a number of areas as well as orienting you in respect to the possibilitie s of situation
assessment, requirements and, of course, action.

I am a strong believer in pre -emptive approach to solving problems. It is much easier and a lot less
expensive to take some evasive and precautionary actions than to deal with fu ll -blown unanticipated
problem. It is even truer in any country where you have numerous disadvantages of unfamiliarity with
judicial process and law, language and culture.

Here are some of the terms and requirements of conducting Real Estate transactions in Brazil:

Can foreigners buy or rent Real Es tate Property in Brazil?

Yes, we can. Foreigners are permitted to buy, own and rent Real Estate Property. By law Brazilians and
foreigners are on almost equal footing when it co mes to property ownership and tenant rights. Non-
Brazilians are subject to certain limitations dictated by national and security interests. Foreign
Govern ments can't own Real Estate Property except build ings and properties used for consulate or embassy

Sources and further i nformation:

Constitution of Federal Republic of Brazil Article 5, Item XXII.

Any local Cartório Office

What documents do I need to buy or rent property in Brazil?

Your travel passport is usually enough in order to sign a rent lease agreement. To buy a property CPF
(Cadastro das Pessoas Físicas) is also required. CPF is easily obtainable by foreigners.

Who can I use as a rental/real estate agent?
There are nu merous business establishments and licensed individuals who can offer your services of
apartment rental bro kers or for sale property listings.

Administradoras _ Business specializing in ad min istering RE properties for individual owners or
condominiu ms.

Imobiliárias _ Essentially Real Estate Agencies

Procuradores _ ( Real Estate Bro kers) Businesses specializing in locating desired properties.

All these businesses can be found in local Yellow Pages under Administração de Bens, Administraçã de
Condomínios, and Imobiliárias.

Needless to say, references and direct referrals can save you from unscrupulous operators. In case of
untried and unknown agent you might want to verify that the individual or business you are dealing with
are members of CRECI

What is CRECI (Conselho Regional de Corretores Imobiliários) or Regional Council of Property

CRECI is the Professional Organization regulating career Property Managers and Real Estate brokers. Only
registered members are legally allowed to work as Corretores (Property Managers). While CRECI
membership is not a guarantee against dishonest actions by certain individu als or co mpanies, it provides
you with at least additional leverage and official co mplaint organ.

Do I need a l ocal l awyer to conduct Real Es tate transactions in Brazil?

It is not mandatory, but reco mmended.

Can I lose the rights to my property?

Yes, under certain circu mstances you can.

What is a Registro Imobiliário?

Registro Imobiliário is the statute of Real Estate Property. In order to claim possession of a Real Estate
Property you have to register the transaction of property ownership transfer at Registro Imobiliário. Usually
takes place at Cartório do Registro de Imóveis located in the same jurisdiction as the property, but can also
be conducted at any location by an authorized official.

There is an expression "quem não registra não é dono" (Who doesn't register is not the owner). Your
contracts and agreements are not valid until they are reg istered in Cartório.

What is the extent of the degree of publicity about ownershi p of property in Brazil?

It literally means that anybody can have access to property ownership information without any reason or

What is Matrícula?

Matrícula is the passport of a Real Estate Property; the only legal relationship between the property and its
Matrícula is one-to-one. Besides uniquely identifying a property, Matrícula contains detailed description
and historical records of all legal, judicial and financial transactions pertaining to the property and full
informat ion, such as description of the property, its precise address and location, past and pre sent owner
informat ion, mortgages etc.

Do all Real Es tate Properties have Matrícula?

No, not all of them do. Only properties that were constructed or involved in some type of legal or financial
transactions since December 31, 1973 have one.

What happens if the property was altered through construction or natural causes and doesn't
correspond to the descripti on contained in Matrícula any more?

Property description needs to be changed through a judicial p rocess called Processo de Retificação. Un less
you are willing to plunge into legal quagmire, verify that the property description contained in Matrícula
corresponds exact ly to reality. To be specific, you buy what is on the paper, not the RE property itself.

What documents do I need to request from property seller before considering buying a property?

At a minimu m the documents you should ask for are:

- A copy of Certidão de registro da Incorporação no Cartório de Registro de Imóveis.

- A copy of Convenção de Condomínio.

- A copy of License of Construction (Alvará).

- A Copy of Architectural Plan of the construction approved by the Mayor's Office.

What do I need to do when I find a property that I' d like to purchase?

- Check for Matrícula of the real estate property. Matrícula is a document that contains informat ion about
all transactions directly related to the property since its construction. IPTU values, owner informat ion,
ownership transfers… It takes about R$ 10 and three days to obtain a Matrícula through a local Cartório de
Registro de Imóveis.

Verify that the property is debt and lien free. In order to verify IPTU pay ment co mplacency check with
Prefeitura by submitt ing o número do contribuinte (registration number) indicated in Matrícula do imóvel

- Verify that the Condomínio fees are paid off.

Any debts on the property can and should be taken into consideration during the negotiation.

How much shoul d I gi ve for a Sinal?

Sinal (down payment) can range anywhere fro m 5 percent to 20 percent of the agreed value of the property.

Can I pay for my property in currency other then Real?

No, always pay in local currency.

What is an acceptable commission pai d to the Real Estate agent for sale or exchange of a property?
The standard fee is 6 percent of the value of the deal (p roperty). In case of p roperty exchange, commission
is usually split up between the parties involved. In sale, the seller pays.

What is CPF?

CPF (Cadastro das Pessoas Físicas) is an identification nu mber that is used for documentation, registration
and identification of indiv iduals during and for financial transactions.

Why do I need CPF?

CPF is required for identificat ion and registration purposes, to conduct financial t ransactions, such as
opening up a bank account.

What is Cartório?

Cartório is a Notary Office.


How much shoul d I pay domestic hel p?

Check the local market. Talk to people who have domestic help. Determine whether how much service you
need and number of days per week that you may require it. If you can limit work hours to 6-8 hours up to
three times per week, you can hire help as prestador de serviço and pay only agreed hourly or daily wage.
Based on the availability and quality of do mestic help and the amount of wo rk daily rates can be as low as
R$ 35 (US$ 15) and as high as R$ 80 (US$ 34). Full t ime help should get paid at least 1½ min imu m wage
plus transportation and other expenses.

What Payroll taxes shoul d I pay if I empl oy workers in Brazil?

Social Security tax: 20 percent

Other Fees: 2.0 percent to 6.0 percent

Labor Accident Insurance: 1.0 percent to 3.0 percent

Severance Pay Indemnity Fund (FGTS): 8 percent (deposited monthly to emp loyee's escrow account).

How much do I ti p Porteiro?

Tipping is not big in Brazil. Though some places that deal almost exclusively with foreigners beca me tip
oriented, the majority of establishments are not. Restaurants add 10 percent service fee to the check (BTW,
it doesn't necessarily mean that the waiter gets it), hotel bell boys (men) would appreciate a Real or t wo, the
taxists are mostly getting by on rounding up the fare. But what do we do with porteiros (doormen)?

Porteiros are sometimes tipped small amounts (R$1-R$2)—40 to 80 cents—when they provide occasional
assistance services, such as helping with shopping bags or other courtesy gestures. It is not required and
oftentimes a smile and obrigado suffice, but a small tip can go a long way.

What are basic rights granted to workers in Brazil?
Brazilian Labor and Emp loy ment Laws are ext remely wo rker friendly. Here are just a few of the
guaranteed rights:

1. Wages: Min imal salary is constitutionally guaranteed and is currently set at R$ 136,00 (appro ximately
US$ 55.00) a month.

2. 13th Salary: The 13th salary is equivalent to an additional month's salary paid annually or p roportionally
to number of months worked in the year.

3. Vacation: Employees are entitled to at least thirty (30) fully paid vacation days after working one year
for the same emp loyer if not absent from work for mo re than five unjustified times during this same period.

4. Maximu m Workweek is set at 44 hours with overtime pay required for addit ional time worked. Overt ime
pay shall be at least 50 percent mo re then regular hourly rate

5. Prior notice in case of dis missal: In case the employer wishes to dismiss an employee, he is ob liged to
give a prior notice of at least thirty days to the worker.

6. Guarantee Fund for Time of Service (FGTS): The government severance emp loyment Fund (FGTS) is
the equivalent to 8 percent of the emp loyee's salary, deposited every month by the employe r in a blocked
FGTS bank account in the name of the employee. In case of dismissal without cause the employer has to
pay a 40 percent penalty of the FGTS over the entire amount deposited in the FGTS bank account.
Withdrawals, are however, authorized only under circumstances established by law.

What about Christmas presents, bonuses and ti ps for your buildi ng and domestic hel p?

They are comp letely at your discretion, with the exception of the Thirteenth Salary.

Boris Gol dshmit, the author, is an American, resi ding part-ti me in Ri o de Janeiro Brazil. After
undertaking a highly challenging step of buying his apartment in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, he
wrote a book—in which this article was based—about buying and renting Real Es tate in Brazil in
order to fill the voi d of Legal and practical information available to foreigners interested in property
ownership and l ong-term leasing in Brazil. You can reach hi m at

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