Thursday, September 15, 2011

Will You Be Taking the Sink Too?

I'm getting real estate in Brazil down! I have learned the tricks of the trade and I am here to share them with you.

1. Even if it's attached to the wall it may disappear with their sofa. That whole rule that we have in the states that anything attached stays does not apply here. Light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, and toilet seat covers could all go, among other things.

2. Visit on a rainy day. Windows leak here. Hell, this country is so unprepared for rain that it's shocking. You'd almost think it was a desert state and rain was rare because when rain pours in this tropical world things flood and leak.

3. Look at the garage. Always look at the garage! Some of them, especially the fabulous older buildings with high ceilings, have garages like dungeons. Yes, the above mention leaks drip right onto your car.

4. If you really like the place, go visit 3 different times. One time in the morning, one day when it's raining, and one time in the evening during high traffic. This will give you a hint at how much noise, traffic, and sun you'll be getting in respect to your apartment.

5. Be blunt. Are there kids running around the common areas all hours of the night? Would you leave your keys with the doorman? Why are you selling your apartment? Is this black spot mold or some kind of alternative art?

6. Bring in a plumber and electrician. Make sure you know them. Have them look at everything they can. Most likely you'll have to do some kind of work but at least this way you'll have an idea as to how much.

7. Check the paperwork and do not believe the Realtor when they say it is perfect. Realtors seem to have a different definition of perfection in that it means almost perfect. Save yourself the drama of arguing during the paperwork process and check them out yourself! You just need a couple of numbers and you can look online. (I don't have the link right now. Anyone know it?)

8. Ask about building maintenance. Have they been updating things like the pipes etc? If not you have a good chance at dealing with construction and extra condo fees.

9. Count outlets! There's a lot of info entering your head when you are looking at a place but I have come to realize that outlets are bitch in this country! You will go to apartments that only have 1 in the living room for goodness sake. FYI, if you aren't planning on breaking wall, putting in a couple more is a bit of a pain in the toosh. Count them!

10. Ask: Has the building changed to natural gas? Has the electrical system been updated to the new one? And the most important, for internet people like myself, which internet companies work here?

There are many many more tips but this is a basic outline. You have to be hardcore, ADD proactive with apartments in this country! Look, think about it, and go back. If it is too good to be true then maybe it needs a second look or buy it now before someone else does. It's a crazy real estate world down here. Be prepared!

What would you add?


  1. My husband to his mom on Skype when we got our apartment together: "It's so great, we have a stove, a refrigerator, even the cabinets! It's so easy in America..." Yes, yes it is.

    (Sorry I always have just my name hyperlinked when I comment, Google is not letting me sign in when I am on your page for some reason.)

  2. Watching House Hunters International we learned that in Italy they actually do take the sinks, toilets, cabinets, everything.
    When you buy a house, the bathrooms and Kitchens only have wholes in the walls with pipes sticking out :)
    I have to say with the new economic crisis in the US and the huge wave of foreclosures, there are less and less homes furnished with appliances. People are taking their fridges and stoves with them, more and more often.


  3. Rachel,

    Keep in mind you can demand that the buyer leave this or that in the house as a condition of purchase.
    Gil's mom just bought an apartament from a lawyer and she asked him to leave the wardrobes in the bedrooms, upon inspection, she discovered termite in one of the wardrobe in a guest bedroom, she asked him to replace it and the seller actually hired a carperter to rebuilt the wardrobe. She also demanded he left kitchen cabinets and window treatments.
    You are in control, you can determine all this during the negotiation.
    Make sure everything agreed is written in the contract with details, take pictures and demand inspections just before you sign the papers to make sure everything is the way you requested.


  4. Hi Rachel,

    I know this isn't exactly the ideal way to ask for it, but do you know what a small rental (one bachelor) would cost in Rio ?


  5. Tiffany, I laughed so much about that when we got our first apartment here. They took out light fixtures and left wires!!

    Ray, totally agree. With the second apartment I asked the seller to leave the custom made bamboo curtains in the living room. They were custom made so how would they fit a new window anyway? And I also talked about leaving certain light fixtures.

    Anon, Depends on the neighborhood. Where are you looking? You can look on

  6. Thanks for that. I'm a reporter and thinking of going there as a correspondent for a couple of years. Don't know about neighbourhoods. Pretty sure I don't want to live in one of the heavier favelas, though.. Preferably a condo on the beach. But I doubt I'll be able to afford that. ;-) Thanks again for the link.