With the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicking off next week, with the first match being held in Sao Paulo on the 12th, all eyes are firmly on Brazil this summer. And this is not only true in the world of sport. More and more people are looking to Brazilian shores for property purchases, yet it is important that those looking to invest, do so in an informed manner. Renata Sa from Brazilian Property Lawyers explains:
How long have you been a qualified Lawyer (by both the Brazilian and Portuguese Bar)?
I have been a qualified Brazilian Lawyer since 2004 and a Portuguese Lawyer since 2006. Last year, I was admitted as a Registered European Lawyer (REL) and I am now authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales.
Why did you first get into Law? Why do you enjoy practicing?
Law was never a first preference but ultimately it became my passion. To be honest, when I started university at age 18, I knew little of the vast opportunities that Law offers which perhaps may not be possible in other professions. My passion for Law started in my first volunteer job working alongside a Criminal Defense Lawyer in prisons whilst studying at University. This was a very rich experience and I could really understand our social problems by how the immediate and structural social environment gives rise to crime and criminogenic conditions.
On the other hand, it was sad to see that our prisons are maintained in medieval conditions. The higher rate of imprisonment overcrowds the Brazilian penitentiary system, the prisoners are subject to degrading and inhuman conditions in the jails, not to mention recurring cases of violence, lack of access to education and health, and an inefficient system for rehabilitation once reintegrated into society. The theory of Criminal law is so beautiful, however, when it comes to reality it lets us down.
When did you first get involved with Property Law?
In 2006, I moved to Portugal in order to achieve a post-graduation qualification in Economic European Criminal Law at Coimbra University. I remained there the following year to study a Master's degree in Community Law before joining a Property Law firm in the Algarve to work as a specialist in Brazilian Property Law.
You work closely with Ritz Property, how did you start working together? When?
In the UK there are not many Brazilian property Lawyers. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. About three years ago, I received a phone call from Andrew Thompson seeking legal advice and he decided to come to my office. Surprisingly, we already knew each other from previous developments and we spent the whole afternoon talking about how the legal system works in Brazil and I guess he liked what he heard.Since then, Ritz Property has recommended their clients to use my Law firm as an independent Brazilian Solicitor, and our collaboration has been very successful.
What does your role with Ritz involve? (for both clients and Ritz as developer)
I am not Ritz's Lawyer but Ritz do regularly introduce their clients to my firm to provide them with independent legal advice. Ritz has a very strong legal team in Brazil with extensive experience in Law. I run an independent Law firm committed to helping our clients across a broad range of legal services in Brazil, from corporate litigation to business transactions, my team provides complete legal solutions to individuals and businesses alike.
Why is it imperative that buyers of Brazilian property use a Lawyer when purchasing?
For clients who are buying properties in Brazil, it is vital for a Lawyer to provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of the conveyancing procedure - from who the developers are to planning permission, in order to identify any potential risks inherent to a particular deal. The Lawyer will check the ownership and any charges, encumbrances or liens registered on the matricula (registration) of the property. They will then inform clients about the financial credibility of developers, apply for a CPF number (the equivalent of the National Insurance Number in the UK), provide advice on the contracts and its implications for both parties, and assist with the transfer of funds to Brazil and any implications with the Central Bank of Brazil. The Lawyer will also explain how taxes work (as Brazil imposes a variety of taxes charged at the Federal, State and Municipal levels) and ensure the property is registered correctly in the client's name.
What credentials should any reputable Brazilian lawyer hold?
A Brazilian Lawyer needs to be admitted at the Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (Brazilian Bar Association) by passing the Brazilian Bar exam, and if the Selection and Registration Committee accept the new member he/she will be consider an Advogado (Attorney at Law/Advocate).
Is it safe to buy land / property in Brazil?
In terms of buying safely, foreign investors with a freehold title deed are afforded the same rights as Brazilian buyers for residential and commercial property. Every jurisdiction has its own Land Registry Office (Cartorio) where the property should be registered. The registrations are public and anyone can request a copy of a Certificate of Registration Certidao de Matricula).
What are the most common mistakes buyers of Brazilian property make?
The most common mistake is to leave it too late and seek legal advice after a problem arises - you need to stay ahead of the game and use legal representation from the start.
What are the typical legal fees a buyer should budget for?
Typical legal fees for purchasing land or property are between £1,300 and £1,800 per transaction. In broad terms our legal fees are based on (1) the time and labour required, (2) the difficulty of the questions involved and the skills requisite to perform the service, (3) the length of the professional relationship with the client, (4) the fee charged in the locality for similar legal services, and (5) the amount of work involved.
How long can the legal purchase process and due diligence process typically take for buyers of Brazilian property?
Typically, the purchase process will take 6-8 weeks although circumstances may vary according to the region of Brazil. However, the full legal process can take up to six months - it is really difficult to predict, it just depends on the details of the case.
You are from Rio de Janiero but now live in London, what do you miss most about Rio?
I am not counting my family and friends because that is the ultimate and most important thing I miss from Brazil and the reason I always go back. I miss the beautiful beaches, the food (I absolutely love feijoada! - a well known and much loved Brazilian national dish) and fresh fruits. Brazilian people are very health conscious with many of them seen running on a regular basis, indeed, many cities close certain roads in the early morning and late evening to accommodate this lifestyle. Although I love Rio de Janeiro, I have found a new home in London and my soul also belongs to this city.
What, in your opinion, is best about Brazil? Why should investors buy now?
Over the last 10 years, Brazil has proven to be a solid economy especially during the most severe economic crisis. Brazil has a wide range of opportunities across multiple sectors and stands out as an economically and politically stable country with continuous growth. Sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games adds even more excitement to Brazil, demanding substantial investments in areas, such as urban and social development and transport infrastructure.