The only requirement for a foreign investor to real estate in Brazil is to have a CPF number (how to obtain a CPF number: see section Visas & Permits).
After having found a real estate of interest and having agreed on the price the buyer should check the legality of the the property. This includes analyzing the certificate of title at the Cartório de Registro de Imóveis (Real Estate Registry Office). The certificate provides all property related transactions that took place during the prior 20 years.
It is important to check that the real estate to be purchased has been constructed legally, that the seller is the legal owner and that there are no debts related to the property. Also make sure that there is no upcoming land expropriation the seller tries to hide.
Of course there is no such certificate if the investor intents to buy property which is not yet built. In this case it is important to check the legal status of the construction company as well as all issued papers related to the property. Usually the estate agent or the lawyer are responsible for checking these issues and they will forward all the information to the buyer.
When having agreed on the price for the first time the buyer has to submit a small, non-refundable deposit to the seller after which the propety will be registered in the buyers name.
Brazilian property sales contracts
After having paid the deposit a sales agreement (contrato de compra e venda) is drawn up. The buyer then pays a pecentage of the total price, known as sinal (usually between 10% and 25%). The receipt of the sinal paid acts as a pre-contract and states the condition of further transactions.
As a buyer you should get legal assistance for the entire purchasing process. The pre-contract should include articles which protect you if the seller cancels the sale.
As the final step both the buyer and the seller have to sign a public and definite contract in front of a notary officer. The buyer does not have to attend personally but can give power of attorney to a third party, instead, to sign the contract.
This final contract is binding and states the further payment conditions and possible construction conditions. With this public deed signed the seller is obliged to transfer the title of the property to its new owner.