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The Battle For Brazil’s Presidency

Next Sunday, Brazil is having its run-off presidential election. The showdown between the far right and far left is creating a lot of noise…

The left is accusing the right of trying to destroy democracy, and the right is dismissing the left of trying to derail the economy.

Neither side is being honest. Political mudslinging is the same the world over. The question is: Will this spectacle affect Brazil’s investment climate?

Not really… I’ll be bullish about Brazil regardless of who wins Sunday’s faceoff.

Brazil is a country of untapped potential. It’s similar to the United States 50 years ago: a young, hungry country full of passion, drive, and resources. It could go on to replicate the successes of the American post-war economic miracle.

Let’s take a step back and examine both candidates’ track records…


The Battle For Brazil’s Presidency

Twenty years ago, today’s opposition contender, Luiz Ignacio Lula de Silva (known as “Lula”), first ran for president.

The business sector panicked, imagining a communist state like Bolivia and Cuba where investors lost their investments and liberty. Brazil’s currency dropped 35%, and fear of Lula’s imagined banana republic policies was so rampant, he was forced to promise that he wouldn’t do anything fiscally reckless or destructive.

In the end, all that fear was unwarranted. Lula’s policies were good for everyone, and he was reelected for a second term, serving until 2010.

Lula ran on an anti-corruption platform, promising to remove graft and bribery from Brazilian political life…

But his presidency was marred by corruption accusations, and several years later, he was jailed for his part in the massive Operation Car Wash bribery scandal (among other things).

Two years into a 12-year sentence, his conviction was overturned by the supreme court. Now Lula is back, charming his electorate with plans for the economy.

His opponents are trying to paint an alarming picture of private asset seizure… but this doesn’t reflect Lula’s track record.

He promises fiscal responsibility, investment in infrastructure, respect for the independence of the central bank, and national debt reduction.

Lula’s opponent is incumbent president Jair Messias Bolsonaro, who offers a similar set of campaign promises… Slightly behind in the polls, he’s running on a free-market populist anti-corruption platform.

Like Lula, his presidency has been plagued by corruption scandals, and his economic policies are heavily criticized by the left.

So the anti-corruption contender is actually quite corrupt… He’s supposedly communist but also pro-business and good for the economy…

Our pro-freedom incumbent is pro-business and will cut regulation to boost the economy… He’s also caught up in accusations of cronyism and graft…

Ideology and environmental policies aside, it’s hard to tell the difference between Lula and Bolsonaro. Neither adheres to the ideals that they claim… like almost all politicians everywhere.


What About The Future?

In Brazil, like many other countries, political corruption exists alongside a strong economy and good potential for economic growth.

Under Lula, the economy grew at an average rate of 4.5%. Under Bolsonaro, the economy grew by 4.6% last year, while still in the throes of the pandemic.

Under Lula’s two terms as president, unemployment fell from 10% to 7.3%. Under Bolsonaro, unemployment has dropped from a pandemic high of 14% to 9.1% in July, its lowest level in seven years.

Lula had a large annual balance of trade surpluses. Under Bolsonaro, Brazil had a trade surplus of nearly 10 billion in 2021.

The results of Sunday’s election are anyone’s guess… As an investor, I don’t care which of these guys is in power. Brazil’s economic outlook is so strong, it doesn’t particularly matter.


Brazil’s Economic Outlook

Brazil is vast—the world’s fifth largest country by area. It shares borders with all but two South American countries, making trade with neighbors easy.

Brazil is the sixth most populous country on Earth, with a young population of over 210 million people that’s growing fast.

With a GDP of US$1.61 trillion, Brazil’s economy is the 14th largest, but purchasing power parity means it has buying power equal to the 7th largest economy in the world.

Brazil has an exceptionally diversified economy, with heavy and light industry, huge natural resource reserves, and a rapidly expanding energy and services sectors.

Brazil’s unemployment rate stands at 9.1%, meaning there are no labor shortages like we are seeing in the States.

Commodity prices are surging around the globe. This benefits Brazil as the fifth largest agricultural exporter in the world and a huge producer of global commodities including soy, corn, iron, metal ores, sugar, lumber, and oil.


Brazil’s Property Market

Property prices rose by 5.3% in 2021 on average, even during the pandemic. Brazil has a strong domestic vacation rental demand from its massive population and rapidly growing middle class.

Price and quality of real estate vary depending on where you are and what you want to spend. Once you get outside the major cities, high-end property is a fraction what you’d pay in other countries.

You can even find deals on beachfront property, if you know where to look…


Beachfront Bungalows In Ceará

In northeastern Brazil’s Ceará state is an investment opportunity offering you direct beachfront living or rental cash flow in an established beachfront community.

It’s just a one-hour drive from Fortaleza, the country’s fifth largest city. This part of Brazil is experiencing major growth with several infrastructure and development projects underway…

  • Fortaleza’s international airport continues to expand its routes to major international cities.
  • New luxury hotels, restaurants, beach bars, and other amenities are sprouting up along this coast as a result of the increased tourism.
  • According to Airbnb, this region is one of the fastest rising vacation rental destinations for families.

These turn-key beachfront homes are ideally suited to capitalize on the growing short-term tourism rental market that is expanding in the region. The development is situated on a peninsula with stunning white sand beaches on each side.

All bungalows come with a small pool, outdoor terrace, and air-conditioning.

The development is close to amenities like a supermarket, pharmacy, and hospital. Also nearby are several restaurants, beach bars, and outdoor recreation opportunities like boating, kite surfing, buggy rides, walking trails along the sand dunes, and more.

A growing international expat community speaks to the appeal of this beautiful beach area…

The developer is projecting a 10%+ net ROI—after paying property management costs, utilities, and condominium maintenance fees. Prices start at US$77,000 for cash buyers. With developer financing, prices start at US$88,500. Delivery is in 2023.

Inhouse property and rental management is available if you want it, or you can choose to live here year-round… To find out more about these Brazil beach bungalows, go here.

Con Murphy
Editor, Overseas Property Alert


P.S. On Thursday, Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. EDT, Lief Simon is hosting the Inflation-Proof $160k Profit Plan Spotlight Event.

This live webinar covers his top income investment for 2023 and beyond—an opportunity that will continue to pay out no matter what happens with inflation or the stock market.

Lief’s given me the go-ahead to invite Overseas Alert Readers to this event, including access to exclusive attendee-only discounts.

Register to join us online for free here. Access comes with a recording of the webinar, too.

Ceará, Brazil: Pristine Beaches And Cheap Property Are Just The Beginning

Raft or Jangada, typical sail boat from Brazil Northeast, used for fishing and for tourism in Cumbuco Beach, Ceara, Brazil.

Invest In One Of Brazil’s Most Coveted Tourism Destinations

If you think of Brazil, you probably think of Rio de Janeiro first. This city has been popularized in movies and books over the last 75 years. But Rio’s population has swollen to 13 million people. Sao Paulo is even bigger, with 22 million.

While full of art and history, Rio and Sao Paulo also have the usual issues found in huge cities, including heat, congestion, and crime. Plus, with this population pressure, property prices have risen dramatically.

This doesn’t mean that Brazil is an unaffordable or unattractive place to buy real estate.

Brazil is vast. It’s the 5th largest country in the world, with some of the most amazing beaches and inland real estate opportunities if you know where to look.

The trick is to follow the locals.

Upper- and middle-class Brazilians are vacationing and relocating to the northeastern coast because they are fed up with the sweltering summer conditions in the south. They are lured by a better lifestyle and more affordable real estate.

They are relocating to Fortaleza, capital city of the Ceará state, and the towns and villages in the surrounding area.

A map of BrazilCeará has miles and miles of pristine beaches with consistent breezes that make the area both comfortable and one of the wind-surfing capitals of the world.

But the secret isn’t out yet. That’s what I find most appealing about Fortaleza.

It’s undiscovered by outsiders.

Foreign investors don’t know about the rock-bottom local prices that you can still get fabulous beachfront property for. Property in the city is still quite affordable. The strength of the dollar over the past few years continues to keep prices down. The Brazilian real has lost almost 40% of its value in the last five years.

The best deals on beachfront property can be found when you go 45 to 90 minutes outside of Fortaleza.

You’ll find spectacular beaches, nice towns, and quaint fishing villages that are quieter, uncongested, and safe and welcoming. The area isn’t blighted by mega resorts, but there are plenty of places to eat and all the services you need close by.

Beach properties cost one-tenth what they would cost in the United States. If you want property on the water close to lovely towns, places where you can have a nice dinner for a few bucks, and where you can relax and be inspired… you have come to the right place.

Another advantage of the northeastern coast of Brazil is that you get no hurricanes. They peel north or south and almost never make landfall in the area.

English-speaking locals are friendly, but my friends have found that those who don’t speak English are even friendlier. They go out of their way to help you and are not out to hustle or panhandle you. These are decent, humble people who live how folks lived in the States back in the 1950s.

You don’t need to learn Portuguese to live in Brazil, but learning simple phrases will help you integrate into the local community.

The Brazilian economy has more going for it than just tourism…

Brazil borders every country in South America except Ecuador and Chile, making trade in Latin America easy. Brazil is the 6th most populous country on Earth, with a young population of 210 million people that’s growing fast.

When purchasing power parity is used, the Brazilian economy is the 7th largest in the world with a relative buying power of about US$3 trillion.

Brazil has a diversified economy, with heavy and light industries, huge natural resource reserves, and a rapidly expanding services sector. Brazil has also proven to be insulated from the war in Ukraine.

Brazil’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.8% in May, meaning there are no possibilities of inflationary pressures caused by labor shortages like we are seeing in the United States.

Commodity prices are surging around the globe. This benefits Brazil because it’s a huge producer of global commodities including soy, iron, metal ores, sugar, gas, and corn. Even though Brazil is exposed to the rising costs of oil derivatives and other raw materials, the global price surge in commodities that Brazil produces compensates for the price increases in these few categories.

Brazil had a trade surplus in 2021 of nearly 10 billion. For a developing nation to enjoy such huge surpluses is uncommon, especially after a crisis like COVID-19. It’s a strong indication of the general heath and diversity of their economy.

Ceará’s Real Estate Market

The real estate market in the Fortaleza area has tremendous growth potential. Prices are as little as a tenth of what you would pay for similar properties in Florida or California.

What’s the catch? How can they afford to sell these amazing beachfront homes starting at less than the price of a nice SUV?

I tell my clients that they are asking the wrong question.

The question should be: Why is real estate so overpriced in the United States?

You can buy new homes on the beach in northeastern Brazil for less than US$70,000 because Brazil has a fully integrated economy and lots of labor.

They make everything in Brazil, while America imports everything from China.

There are no import tariffs on home-produced building materials. It’s all sourced and built locally. The steel, concrete, floor tiles, roof tiles, wood, cabinets, granite countertops… everything is locally sourced.

These local supply chains allow savvy developers to build at a better price than anyone else.

There’s lots of prime oceanfront land available along the northeast coast of Brazil, which means developers can find development sites at reasonable prices.

If you are interested in acquiring residency through your investment, you can invest 700,000 reals (roughly US$140,000) in property in northeastern Brazil to be eligible for the Investor Visa. This is a lower threshold than if you were buying in southern Brazil.

The developer we are working with offers several developments within an hour or two of Fortaleza and its international airport. And yet, these developments feel a thousand miles away from congested cities and are on some of the most spectacular beaches in the world.

Our development partner is a boutique building company that has been active in the area for over two decades.

These guys don’t build 30-story concrete condo towers. Their specialty is finding small plots of land on pristine beaches and developing a limited number of boutique villas and bungalows.

They attract a different type of consumer than your typical condo buyer.

Unique to the Fortaleza area is the year-round rental market. This is what makes investing here much more lucrative than elsewhere in Brazil. Most of Brazil caters to the summer vacation rental market (June to August) or the winter vacation market (December to February) and everything else is off-season.

You can reasonably expect anywhere between a 10% and 15% return on your rental investments due to the year-round tourism rental market and the very low entry costs, coupled with the fact that they develop desirable seaside properties.

The rental occupancy rate in this area is an impressive 88%, making this a viable investment opportunity.

Located in Canoa Quebrada (90 minutes from the city of Fortaleza) in the Ceará state, this developer is selling bungalows with their own pool, located on the best stretch of beach in the area.

A beach home in Ceará, Brazil

The bungalows have a living space of 37 square meters (400 square feet), one bedroom, one bathroom, and a private pool. Construction is expected to be completed by August 2024.

This investment has full-service property rental and management available.

The property has a cash price of US$67,000.

Developer financing is available from US$77,000. You’ll put 25% down with interest-free payments for the remaining balance over 24 months.

The development is near one of Ceará’s most popular tourist destinations, with access to great restaurants, supermarkets, shops, and tourist activities such as dune buggy rides, kite surfing, diving, paragliding, ATV tours, fishing, boat trips, and several of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches.

To find out more about this opportunity, click here.

Con Murphy
Editor, Overseas Property Alert

Santos: Brazil’s Bustling Island City With Gardens Galore

Aerial view of Santos city, county seat of Baixada Santista, on the coast of Sao Paulo state, Brazil

A Tale of Two Cities, Part 1: Santos

Likely you’ve never heard of Santos. Almost certainly you’ve never heard of her sister city across the estuary, Guarujá. But every Brazilian has.

These cities lie about one hour southeast of the city of São Paulo. Each is situated on a large coastal island, and though each boasts lovely beaches, they are quite different in most other respects. For now, we’ll get to know Santos.

One Of The Best Cities In Brazil—But Don’t Take My Word For It

Santos is a bustling city of about 420,000. It is, in fact, generally conceded to be the busiest port in all of South America, servicing both container and cruise ships.

But Santos isn’t the grimy blue-collar town you might imagine. Around 2010, with the discovery of oil and gas reserves offshore, there was a sudden inrush of white-collar jobs. Also, many of the locals are well-paid professionals who actually work in the city of São Paulo, but who make the commute daily because they prefer to live in Santos.

Santos, in fact, regularly appears on lists of the top cities in Brazil in which to live. In 2016, Santos ranked #6 among the best cities in Brazil as determined by the United Nations, considering factors such as average level of education, life expectancy, and income. Santos was rated in 2021 as the best city in all of Brazil for those 60 and over. In a country where people are given to complaining about the government and services, everyone here speaks highly and proudly of Santos, of its superior services, safety, and high quality of life.

Santos is attractive as well. Nature has blessed her. Here, as in so many cities in southeastern Brazil, morros, those tree-covered cones of granite, so quintessentially Brazilian, nestle along the coastline. Broad beaches are washed by the South Atlantic. The unbroken gardens running along the beach are considered by Guinness to be the largest in the world.

I really like the way Santos organizes its beaches—and I’ve seen plenty here, up and down Brazil’s extensive coastline. The beaches are Brazilian, and yet organized—two words not typically used in conjunction. There are bike lanes, and the calçadão (broad beach sidewalk) for pedestrians. Permanent kiosks serve up seafood and icy-cold beers.

On the weekends, locals and daytrippers throng stalls and pushcarts, which offer everything from handicrafts to churros (wickedly delicious tubes of deep-fried pastry stuffed with chocolate or caramel cream). The beaches are broad, in many stretches a full two city blocks from the calçadão to the water’s edge. You stand surrounded by clutches of beach umbrellas of every color, and the sounds of laughter, volleyball, beach soccer, and, of course, the crash of the waves. Close to the kiosks, the smell of the sea gives way to that of churrasco, Brazilian-style barbecue. Ahhhh…

Paradise? Well, if I’m picky, the sand here has clay in it. It’s grayish in spots and isn’t as sugary soft as over in Guarujá, which we’ll visit soon enough. But there are certainly worse places to hang your hat!

If you tire of the beaches, Santos boasts an aquarium and a number of museums, including ones dedicated to coffee, the navy, fishing, soccer, and one specifically to Pelé, widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time, who played most of his career right here. There are botanical gardens and an orchid park housing a small zoo. You can tour the historic district (Santos dates all the way back to 1546) by streetcar. And there are good restaurants everywhere, offering seafood of course, but really almost any type of cuisine you might want.

Santos has generally fine weather, too. While there are four seasons, even in winter (June to August), daily highs often reach 70°F, and lows rarely fall below 55°F. The intermittent gusts from the south are invigorating. Summers are hot, but not oppressively so, and these days most homes have air conditioning.

Aerial view of Santos city, buildings on the waterfront avenue, county seat of Baixada Santista, on the coast of Sao Paulo state, Brazil.
Adobe Stock/Cifotart

Brazil, Only Better

I find myself liking the people here as well. They take pride in their city, and despite the continuing economic crisis in Brazil, the city provides a high level of services, and it is quite evident that the city is well managed, from garbage pickups to bus service to hospitals. You have to give credit to the paulistas for this.

Brazilians universally, if sometimes begrudgingly, acknowledge São Paulo to be the most organized and industrious of all the Brazilian states, and I would have to concur. It doesn’t hurt that Santos is one of the state’s—indeed, the country’s—wealthier cities.

While Santos forges ahead through the economic downturn, there are many apartments currently on the market. Many are second homes or investment properties, and their owners want to unload them. It’s not quite the buyer’s market you’ll find over in Guarujá, but there are definitely deals available.

Getting The Lay Of The Land Around Santos

Santos is located on a large island which it shares with the city of São Vicente—which was the first permanent Portuguese settlement in what would become Brazil.

The most attractive areas lie on the south side of the island, where the beaches are strung along an arc facing the bay and the South Atlantic.

While there are many nice areas here in which to rent or buy, the most desirable bairros (city districts) in my view are Boqueirão, which is centrally located, and Ponta da Praia, to the east, where the estuary empties into the sea. Another bairro to consider is Gonzaga, which includes the central shopping district; it’s convenient to everything, if perhaps a bit noisy. I would avoid the western end of Santos, adjacent São Vicente, as there are two favelas nearby.

Although the beach is undeniably attractive, I suggest also looking at properties one to two blocks inland, for a couple of reasons. The first is that in Santos, buses run along the beach avenue, so unless you get a unit facing away from the beach, you’ll have to contend with traffic noise and also dust if you are on one of the lower floors. And marisia, the salt air, slowly corrodes appliances.

By moving just a couple of blocks away from the beach, you’ll not only avoid these problems, but find cheaper rents, and also lower prices in pharmacies, markets, and restaurants. It’s the same in beach communities everywhere.

It’s a fairly straightforward matter to rent a furnished unit here for 90 days on what is termed a por temporada (for the season) lease. Standard long-term contracts in Brazil are for 30 months, but it is common these days to add a clause which allows the renter out after 12 months with no penalties. Traditionally, property owners have asked for a fiador, or co-signer, for long-term leases, but now most will accept a deposit held in escrow. Surprisingly, many owners actually prefer to rent to foreigners.

Santos has a lot to offer, so it’s not surprising that it’s a bit pricey—by Brazilian standards. But for those with dollars, pounds, or euros, Santos offers the most elusive of beasts: a truly desirable beachside location, at very reasonable prices.

Guarujá, Brazil: A Laid-Back Beach Town With Relaxed Property Prices

A wide view of the beach of Guaruja in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo.

A Tale Of Two Cities, Part 2: Guarujá

Just across the estuary from Santos lies Guarujá. Though only four minutes from Santos by balsa (ferry), Guarujá is quite different in many respects.

Whereas Santos bustles, Guarujá is more of a laid-back beach town. In fact, a quick search online of the top things to do in Guarujá will present a list of beaches, more beaches, and still more beaches. Oh, and the Acqua Mundo aquarium, with its sharks and penguins.

Guarujá is full of vacationing paulistanos (residents of São Paulo city) during the summer months (December to February), and again during the July holidays. Throughout the …

Brazil’s Economy: The Overlooked Powerhouse Of South America

Copacabana Beach and Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why Investors Are Flocking To Safe Haven Brazil

I’m not going to wax lyrical about the amazing natural beauty of Brazil, nor bore you with talk of 5,000 miles of coastline and many of the world’s best and most pristine beaches.

I won’t tell you about the rich and diverse culture, the 7 natural and 14 cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or the rich music, cuisine, and exotic peoples either.

Today I’ll be analyzing the Brazilian economy, because Brazil has revealed herself as a safe haven investor’s paradise.

Everywhere else around the globe, markets are in turmoil, governments are panicking, and the world’s attention is turned toward the war in Ukraine.

Brazil doesn’t seem affected by any of this…

Savvy investor money is pouring into Brazil. And it’s easy to see why.

Brazil is the global powerhouse that is often forgotten, even though it’s one of the biggest, strongest, and most diversified economies in …

Your Only Opportunity To Get The Cheapest Beach Properties In Brazil

Paradise lagoon from above in Jericoacoara, Ceara, Brazil.

A new WhatsApp message dings from my sister in Dubai…

“We camped in the desert last night. Got a new car and lots of camping gear, so we decided to trial it. We slept in a rooftop tent with a great big mattress and had a pop-up tent on the ground with a camping toilet.”

“That’s not real camping,” responds my brother, locked down here in Ireland like me.

In a flash, my sister is back:

“You can’t really camp on the ground here. Some eejit on a quad bike might roll over you in your sleep.”

(To clarify, “eejit” is an Irish version of idiot. Bonus: it’s also an approved Scrabble word.)

My sister had a point.

I love hearing stories of other people’s adventures right now. But when …

Investing In Brazil Should Be Your Next Move, Here’s Why

Fortaleza, Ceara State, Brazil

My colleague Kat Kalashian recently wrote about the many benefits of living near water

A few years back, Kat realized that, wherever in the world she decides to call home, it must be near a stretch of water… ocean, lake, or river.

I’m with Kat. But for me, only the ocean will do.

Right now, my family lives within a 10-minute drive of Ireland’s southeast shores. I’m at the beach a few times a week to walk, run, or meet friends for coffee. If I wanted to base myself closer to the coast—and buy a home with a glimpse of the crashing Atlantic—that would come at a premium price… usually upward of 500,000 euros…

I’m sure you’ve seen this when looking at beachfront or ocean-view property in your part of the world, too. Along the in-demand coasts of California and Florida, homes quickly get into six figures…

Hard to believe that there are still parts of the world where you can own beachfront property for less than …

Brazil Is Still The Best Place For Pocket Money Real Estate

canoa brazil

I first came across the term “pocket money real estate” when I started out in publishing almost 20 years ago. Back then, we put out a weekly e-letter with a handful of current “pocket money” listings from around the world. The rule was that each property could cost no more than US$50,000…

It was a fun read. But boy was it a challenge for the editor to turn up a bunch of sub-US$50,000 property listings every week that weren’t piles of rubble…

Cut to 2020 and this kind of property is even harder to …