Buying Property Brazil : Role Real Estate Agents and Lawyers

Daniela Quiros,  Saturday, 4 January 2014


This article is part of a series of 8 articles about buying property in Brazil. The other articles in the series cover the following topics:

Brazil makes it easy for foreigners to work with realtors because the real estate market is strictly regulated by the government. If you follow the rules and do not endeavor any risky enterprises, chances are you will have a positive experience working with a certified Brazilian realtor. The only prerequisite is that you do your due diligence researching the agencies before you contract one. Make sure you hire an accredited real estate agent, or agency, when acquiring property in Brazil.

Only accredited realtors are authorized to take part in real estate transactions in Brazil. Ever since 1960s, the government of Brazil imposed regulatory measures to control the real estate intermediaries. The profession of a realtor is, therefore, legally recognized and regulated by national legislation. Within the Brazilian territory, only accredited real estate agents and property owners have the right to operate on the real estate market. There are two major regulatory bodies that control and establish rules and fair practices, as well as professional standards – CRECI and COFECI, the Regional Real Estate Brokers Council, or Conselhos Regionais de Corretores de Imóveis – CRECI, and the Federal Council of Real Estate Brokers, or Conselho Federal de Corretores de Imóveis – COFECI. Accredited realtors always have a professional ID issued by CRECI. You should always request to see this professional ID when you meet the real estate agent for the first time. Any intermediary taking part in the real estate transactions must have CRECI ID card. You can verify the ID number online with the official .

Tips on Choosing a Real Estate Agency in Brazil

#1 Choose a Brazil based realtor

A realtor that ‘lives and breathes’ local real estate is sure to provide the best quality services. Stay away from companies that merely list properties for sale. Instead, opt for agencies that only offer properties with verified titles that are free to be sold, and have no legal restrictions and liens. That would significantly simplify the verification, or due diligence, period.

A realtor must know all ins and outs of the neighborhood, the safety guidelines, and crime statistics, as well as construction peculiarities, such as underground waters and gas pipelines, or upcoming major construction or developmental projects that may significantly alter the neighborhood.

Try contacting the agency as a seller and see what criteria they have for accepting the property to their listings. If you feel the criteria are strict enough, you may confidently rely on such a provider.

#2 Check out the agency’s website

Do they have extensive information on buying property in Brazil? If most of your questions have been answered via published articles and related resources listed on the website, it is a good sign the agency is keeping track of the market’s pulse.

#3 See the scope of the agency’s activity

Some agencies only work with real estate that is already in possession, whereas others work with property development projects. Irrespective of what your target property is, constructed or in development, you must investigate if the agency is associated with the development project to see if you are being offered all the possibilities, and not just the ones they want to sell.

#4 Assess the staff’s professionalism

Besides communication skills, flexibility and professionalism, your agent will probably need to speak passable English if you do not speak Portuguese. You will want to ask sensitive questions about security, neighbors, traditions and the owner’s situation; so, make sure your agent communicates clearly and you have mutual understanding. Being able to estimate carefully your requirements, needs and budget, and produce relevant search results requires a high level of professional and personal involvement from an agent.

#5 Connections

A reputable agency can recommend a trusted lawyer to protect your legal rights in the acquisition process. Some agencies work directly with international law firms operating in Brazil. This will ensure the most thorough due diligence process ensuring the property has all permits, titles and licenses for title transfer.

#6 Inspection Tours

Some agencies even offer cash compensation to foreigners for traveling to Brazil for inspection tours to see the properties. While this information may be not so publicly advertised, anyone duly researching the agency’s background will be able to find about these tours availability.

Do you need a lawyer for property acquisition in Brazil?

It is also highly advisable to appoint a qualified lawyer specializing in real estate transactions when you purchase property in Brazil. It is wise to find a bilingual lawyer fluent in your native language, or at least in English. You must have an attorney capable of explaining legal intricacies and legalities both in oral and written form for you. A bilingual lawyer can also translate all corresponding documentation without resorting to third- party translation services. The lower limit of the on real estate acquisition is approximately $1000 and depends on the complexity of the associated paperwork and the total purchase price.

What are the lawyer’s functions in the process of purchase-sale of real estate in Brazil?

Depending on the legalities and peculiarities of your acquisition, your lawyer’s responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Verification of the property’s status in the Cartório de Registro de Imóveis, or Real Estate Registry Office. Your lawyer will receive a with the record of the property’s history – all relevant transactions, owners, taxes and fees, debts, liens and restrictions, if any. Based on the facts reflected by the title certificate, your lawyer may advise you against the acquisition or require additional certificates from municipalities or architectural secretariat.
  • The lawyer must verify if the seller is the actual owner of the property and has the rights to sell it.
  • It is in your lawyer’s jurisdiction to verify the owner’s credibility and financial status, as well as any pending liabilities associated with the property.
  • Your lawyer will draft the pre-sale agreement, the deed, as well as the mortgage clause, if any, and advise you on rights and obligations of both parties. The lawyer will also translate the contract, or suggest the accredited translation service.
  • Your lawyer is also responsible for guiding you through the payment and funds transfer process.
  • Last, but most importantly, your lawyer will register your property rights with the Real Estate Registry Office after the deal. Note: you will be able to enjoy your property rights only when you are the legally registered owner. This does not happen after the deed has been signed and the money has been transferred. You enter your property rights only when the Real Estate Registry Office registers your purchase-sale deed properly. For more on the , please refer to the dedicated article.
How to Find a Trusted Lawyer?

We recommend you seek out a lawyer registered with Ordem Dos Advogados Do Brasil, the . Some Brazilian lawyers are also registered with the lawyers’ societies in other countries, so it is safer for you to deal with a lawyer with high credentials.

A good lawyer will offer all of the above mentioned services, such as verifying the current owner status in relation to the property, drafting and advising you on the contract and additional clauses, clearing you on the obligations, supporting you through the money transfer process and registering the property in your name.

It is a fact that many Brazilians prefer to save on the legal fees and buy property without a lawyer since the record in the Real Estate Registry Office is open to public access and anyone can request the title certificate for a property. Nevertheless, foreigners are susceptible to fraud due to them having little or no knowledge of the local specifics and legalities. Basically, it is possible to proceed without a lawyer, but we recommend you weigh carefully pros and cons of such an endeavor.

Is investing in Brazilian real estate risky?

Any investment has a risk element, of course, but if you research the market, the realtors and the lawyers before you join the game, you will be able to have a smooth and safe purchase. Remember to resort only to services of CRECI accredited real estate agents, and a highly qualified lawyer specializing in real estate acquisition by foreign buyers.  

House on beach Brazil
All types of property for sale in Brazil by private sellers and estate agents. Find your perfect villa, condominium or apartment in Fortaleza, Iracema, Rio de Janeiro or Tambau 

Boat on Brazilian River The property’s price tag is not the full amount you must be prepared to pay when closing the deal, paying the lawyers, notaries, agents, banks and municipalities. All related registries and offices are sure to charge you a fee; so, understanding how the system works and what it charges will help you get prepared for the additional spending costs. 
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