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House Hunting in … São Paulo | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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New York Times

São Paulo – This four-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath house is in Cidade Jardim, an upscale neighborhood that borders the Pinheiros River and is about five miles southwest of the financial district of São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city.

The two-level, 4,954-square-foot house, situated behind stone walls on 0.13 acre, is being sold fully furnished, said Luiza Cazarin, the international relations coordinator for the listing broker, Axpe Imóveis Especiais, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. The home was built in 1970 and underwent an 18-month overhaul after the current owners bought it in 2012.

The owners, who are moving to Italy, opted for a contemporary aesthetic in the renovations, led by Vivian Calissi, a local interior designer. They used a mostly muted palette in the finishes and textured wall coverings, with bursts of color in the artwork and accessories, outfitting the spacious rooms with modern Italian furnishings.

Entry is through two sets of doors, with a small garden in between. The main carved wooden doors open to a hallway. There is a lounge area with a piano that flows into the living and dining rooms, both of which have double-height ceilings. The living room has a wall of custom bookcases at one end and glass doors that open to a garden with a seating area. “The whole house was designed so all the rooms had a view of some garden,” Ms. Cazarin said.

The main floor features a large open space with a home-theater area and an eat-in kitchen with stainless-steel appliances; this portion of the house looks out onto yet another garden and a modest pool. There is also a small office and staff quarters.

Upstairs are the en-suite bedrooms, which have garden views and bathrooms with anti-fog mirrors. The master suite has dual spalike baths with soaking tubs separated by a large glass-enclosed shower stall, as well as a dressing area and closets.

This house is on a quiet street not far from the lush 35-acre Parque Alfredo Volpi and the 33-acre Parque do Povo, or People’s Park, on the other side of the Pinheiros River. It is also close to the Jockey Club horse racing facility, the Cidade Jardim shopping center and the University of São Paulo. It is about an hour from the São Paulo international airport, and farther from the beaches; Guarujá beach is more than 60 miles away.


The housing market is still recovering from Brazil’s recent economic and political turmoil. The economy fell into a deep recession starting in 2014, and last year, the president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached amid charges of corruption and misconduct. “This affected international interest,” Ms. Cazarin said.

Home prices fell sharply throughout the country, reversing some of the gains from the previous bull market, which began in 2008. But the outlook for housing is improving — particularly in the São Paulo region, agents said — as the economy shows signs of stabilizing and interest rates head lower. “The residential real estate market in Brazil now is starting to pick up after two years where business was very slow,” said Sylvia Agricola, a broker at Bossa Nova Sotheby’s International Realty.

And international buyers and investors have been returning, in search of bargains, agents said. The average price for a home in the popular neighborhoods outside the city center is now around $1 million, Ms. Cazarin said.


Residents of the Cidade Jardim neighborhood are mostly Brazilian, agents said, but the larger São Paulo market draws many foreigners.

“They’re usually coming because they have business in the city and usually for a specific period,” Ms. Cazarin said, noting that expatriates often choose to rent. “The foreigners that do buy are usually Americans and Europeans, mostly from Germany, Portugal or Spain.”


To acquire property in Brazil, foreign buyers must have a tax identification number, or what’s known as a CPF; it’s easy to obtain and inexpensive. There are no restrictions on purchases, except for certain agricultural property, said Samantha Dangot, a real estate lawyer based in São Paulo.

Agents recommend hiring an experienced lawyer to help with transactions. “We don’t have escrow companies here, so lawyers have to analyze all documents before the sale goes through,” Ms. Dangot said. “That process can take from two weeks to a month.”

Buyers and sellers will need to sign a public deed drafted by a notary, who then registers the sale. All transactions are done in Brazilian reais, and most often in cash. “Credit is still very complicated, even for locals,” Ms. Dangot said, adding that the local mortgage rates are “extremely high.”


São Paulo tourism: visitbrasil.com/en/estados/sao-paulo

São Paulo government: saopaulo.sp.gov.br/conhecasp

Brazil tourism: brazil.org.za


Portuguese; Brazilian real (1 real = $0.32)


The seller usually pays the brokerage commission, which ranges from 5 to 8 percent of the purchase price. Buyers are generally responsible for the closing costs, which are typically 6 to 8 percent of the purchase price, including legal, notary and registration fees, as well as a municipal tax on the transfer of property, called ITBI. “Every municipality has a different ITBI that ranges between 2 and 3 percent,” Ms. Dangot said.

The annual property taxes on this house are around $4,500, Ms. Cazarin said.

The New York Times