You probably aren't aware of it, but your own apartment under the Brazilian sun is a lot more affordable and accessible than you think. Here holidayinbrazil.com tells you how to purchase your own piece of the Brazilian Dream.
The best places to find apartments and houses for sale are the web sites: www.planetaimovel.com.br (now in English) and www.patrimovel.com.br (Portuguese). If your tastes are more exotic try the Rio de Janeiro based island brokerage: www.alanfrombrazil.com.br Prices are all in local currency (R$) so divide the price by the exchange rate for your currency. Real Estate in Brazil is fantastic value for money when you buy from abroad !
Before even making an offer you'll need to appoint a lawyer and have your C.P.F. (Cadastro Pessoa Fisica.) You cannot raise capital within Brazil so you will need the money readily on hand in your home country. As you will be making an instruction for payment via fax from abroad you'll need to sign a fax indemnity with your bank at home. A law firm will charge you around 1% (negotiable) for their services and there is a 3% purchase tax.
The legal process is hassle free in comparison to some advanced economy countries. Your lawyer will have to check the ownership of the title deeds and that there are no outstanding debts on the property you are interested in. This takes around two weeks and then you'll be ready to sign.
The most complex part is the transaction to send your money to Brazil. To enable you to take your money out of Brazil in the future (should you decide to sell) the payment has to be made directly into the sellers bank account, not via a 3rd party. This means you have to provide account payment details of the vendor to your bank. In practice this means that you have to have everything queued up in readiness to sign the contracts at a signing meeting at your lawyers' office. Once the faxes have been sent and confirmation of payment has been received the necessary documents are signed in the presence of the Public Notary and the keys are handed over !
Potential Pit Falls
Depending on the price of the property and whether or not the vendor is going to go into the next capital gains tax band it is quite likely that the vendor will ask for payment in two lots. The largest amount will be on the title deeds and this is the amount that will be transferred to Brazil. The second amount can be paid in cash or to another bank account outside of Brazil. Don't be surprised if you're asked to make a transfer to a bank account in New York or Tokyo.
Buying off plan can be painful anywhere in the world and non the less in Brazil. Be aware that construction projects in Brazil take longer than in advanced economies for a whole host of reasons. If you're told your apartment will "definitely" be ready in 12 months, expect to move in about 24 months later at the earliest.
Do not buy property for speculative purposes. The Real can change in value dramatically in a short space of time. Only buy property in Brazil if you are intending holding on to it for the long term and have a genuine desire to spend a few months each year in Brazil.