Retire to Your Dream Destination – Real Estate Investing in Brazil

Taking action is critical to your success. Too many people find a reason not to go after their big dreams (I just wrote about the big but that keeps you from investing in real estate). The excuses sound really good, but at the end of the day anything that stops you from being who you want to be and living the life you want to live is just an excuse. And sometimes all we need to get out of our funk or get off our butt and do something is a story about someone else that did!

That’s why I am pretty excited to share this story from two Rev N You newsletter readers that have stepped out of their comfort zone and created the life they were dreaming of. And, of course, when that life has some great real estate lessons and angles that makes it even better.

When Trudy Palmer wrote to me about her Brazilian condo investment I thought it would make a wonderful story for our readers. I know they aren’t the only ones considering retirement in a lower cost country with a better climate. I also know they aren’t the only ones considering Central or South American investments, so I thought you would enjoy this story.

And, if you’re interested in learning more about their Brazilian investments, you are welcome to ask your questions in the comments section of the blog – Trudy will be responding to them – or you can send an email to Trudy & Steven to get more details.

Retire To Your Dream Destination

By Trudy Palmer

Ever since my husband, Steven, and I first started reading about the great climate year round, cheap real estate, low cost of living and low taxes in Panama, we’ve been dreaming and scheming of moving to a tropical country.

After one particularly long, cold winter in Kelowna, B.C. we finally decided it was time to quit dreaming and make it happen. We spent 3 weeks in Panama checking things out only to return to Canada to find out the visa requirements were changing. Before we could get ourselves moved down there the visas had become cost prohibitive

That wasn’t enough to stop us from finding a new, and maybe even better, “retirement-haven” country.

We ruled out Mexico and other countries throughout Central America that are located in the hurricane belt. We narrowed our options down to either the city of Manta, on the coast of Ecuador or Fortaleza, on the north eastern coast of Brazil. We ultimately settled on Brazil because it offered a more stable economy, better infrastructure and larger city with more amenities.

Forteleza Brazil

Fortaleza, Brazil

For us, the dream was not about paradise and privacy. We want shopping, nightlife and lots of socializing, especially being the avid salsa dancers that we are.

We sold our Kelowna home for a nice profit which is what we used to finance our new life in Brazil.

With the city selected our next task was to find a home.

My criteria for our next home was simple – to be on or near the water. However, Steven’s eye was more towards owning a revenue property. After spending a few months in Fortaleza and starting to get a feel for the market, it became very clear that the traditional rental property route was not going to be the ideal scenario. Because many Brazilians earn so little, rents are very low and we really didn’t want to be in the position of having to chase Brazilians down for money, especially when many can’t afford the rent in the first place.

The real money, with the least amount of hassle or work, is in the short-term/vacation rental market, typically through renting out condos to foreigners. And, we discovered as we were looking for a place to stay ourselves, there is a shortage of short term and vacation accommodations.

But, this still posed a problem for us. We could only afford to buy one condo. If we rented it out, where would we live? Houses with suites are nearly non-existent and there really aren’t any houses on or near the water in Fortaleza.

In  the meantime, we had found a place to live in Fortaleza that had a kitchenette, twice-weekly maid/cleaning service, a pool and common TV room. The building was 4 levels with 21 furnished one and two bedroom apartments. It is owned and operated by an American who lives in one of the apartments and rents the rest out to foreigners on a weekly or monthly basis. The idea of purchasing the property began to form but the asking price was too high and consequently the returns just weren’t attractive enough for us or another potential investor. Thus, the search for a similar property began.

Apartment in Brazil

Upon researching the market, we determined that Cumbuco, a small beach town approximately 35 kilometres from Fortaleza had a lot of potential for value and growth. With it’s proximity to the city and its popularity with kite-surfers from all over the world we felt we’d found a real gem. In fact, Cumbuco is in the early stages of being recognized as one of the top 5 destinations in the world for kite-surfing.

Kite Surfing in Brazil

Cumbuco has really grown and over the past few years. Brazil, especially the north eastern coast, is in the early stages of a real estate boom. This is evidenced by the many large developments underway in Fortaleza, Cumbuco and up and down the coast. In addition, the World Soccer (Football) Games are approved for Fortaleza in 2014, and World Olympics are taking place in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. With the combination of the buyer’s market and the strengthening of the Brazilian Real which is projected to continue to strengthen, we feel strongtly that now is the perfect time to buy.

We found a beautiful property in Cumbuco, located one block from the beach with 16 rooms and a restaurant. The seller was motivated and we managed to negotiate the property at a 25% discount with 18 months of seller financing (which is practically non-existent in Brazil).

Our timing was perfect because we recently learned that a few weeks after the seller accepted our offer, a European investor offered her twice we paid for her property.

We are living our dream retirement in a dream destination. And we’d be happy to share more details with you.

<Note from Julie & Dave: Trudy & Steven welcome you to get more details about their investment. Feel free to leave your questions in the blog post comments section or if you’re interested you can access their investment proposal by sending a blank email to: pousada@betterways.net. >

8 Comments

Filed under investing, real estate

8 responses to “Retire to Your Dream Destination – Real Estate Investing in Brazil

  1. Regina

    Julie,

    I have encountered some dilema with a stigma regarding certain real estate agents…..a real estate agent signing a contract for lease to own purchase agreements, 2 months later, agents goes into foreclosure leaving tenants out of investment money, would you have other similar incident’s?

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  3. Kevin

    I’m confused. The writer went from looking for a condo to buying 16 rooms and a restaurant. Was this the plan all along? Do they have experience running a hotel and restaurant in a foreign country? I imagine that the truth of their perceived “deal of the decade” will be when they try and implement their exit strategy and sell this “deal.” Strange story.

    • Hey Kevin. You make a great point regarding the restaurant. I hadn’t even thought of it – I was just looking at it from the perspective of the couple tackling their retirement dreams in a different way. But I know Trudy will be on here to reply to comments so she can address your concern! Thanks for stopping by!!

    • Trudy

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your comments.

      As part of our research of the market, we started out with looking at condos. They are one area of the market in Brazil right now that provide a good source of rental income. However, it very quickly became clear to us that buying and renting a condo was not going to meet our goals because we also wanted to buy a place to live.

      With condo rentals, you are essentially tapping into the vacation rental market. It became clear to us that to tap into this market AND meet our goals, we had to go bigger. Our research led us to the pousada/hotel business model.

      Do we have experience with running a hotel and restaurant in a foreign country? No, but we are not the only ones here who have done this. We do have business experience, experienced staff and have established relationships with other pousada owners who have been where we are now and are more than willing to help when we need it.

      Many pousadas here are owned and operated by Europeans and these are the majority of the buyers for this type of market. In fact, a European investor offered the seller of our pousada double what we paid a few weeks after she accepted our offer. So, yes, it may take longer to sell a property such a this compared to a condo, for example, however there are existing buyers looking for this type of property.

  4. Kevin

    Hi Trudy!

    Many thanks for the reply. I actually came across this website via Google Alerts (news, etc. updates) and one of the key words was Mexico. One thing led to another and your blog mentioned reasons why “Mexico” (the key word) didn’t meet your needs, etc. So, I read the balance of the article, came across the write-up on you and voila! I’m now finding out more things about Brazil than I ever knew of.
    I’m currently wintering in Los Barilles, California Baja Sur and while the weather is gorgeous, I wouldn’ t want to be trying to sell real estate here at this time. The combination of H1N1, the slow US economy and the 24-hour cable news horror stories (mostly of no consequence to regular law-abiding folks) is not making for a robust economy in this area.
    Anyway, thanks again for your response. Good on you for following your dreams – very admirable. Take care.
    Cheers,
    Kevin

  5. Shaun

    Hi there,

    I enjoyed reading your story. I am looking at purchasing a condo in Fortaleza and was wondering if you had any trustworthy contacts, such as real estate agents, lawyers etc…
    Any other relevant information would also be appreciated.

    Thanks.

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