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Luxury home sales boom in Sao Paulo with low rates spurring demand

Revenue doubles for local brokerage that specialises in selling high-end real estate to the wealthy

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Luxury homes in Vila Nova Conceicao (above), the most expensive neighbourhood in Brazil, are selling for as much as 13.5 million reais (S$4.65 million), says Amir Makansi, the chief executive officer and partner at Anglo Americana Consultoria de Imoveis, a boutique brokerage that specialises in luxury properties.

BT_20190510_BRAZIL10A947J_3777546.jpg
Luxury homes in Vila Nova Conceicao the most expensive neighbourhood in Brazil, are selling for as much as 13.5 million reais (S$4.65 million), says Amir Makansi (above), the chief executive officer and partner at Anglo Americana Consultoria de Imoveis, a boutique brokerage that specialises in luxury properties.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

IT TOOK less than a month to sell half the units in a Sao Paulo luxury apartment building earlier this year, even though construction won't be complete until 2022. One brokerage that specialises in high-end real estate saw its revenue double in the first four months of this year.

The luxury residential-property market in Brazil's biggest city is booming with demand from rich Brazilians, fed up with the toll record low interest rates, are taking on their portfolios.

Gone are the days of double-digit returns on simple treasury securities, so many of the rich are trying to capitalise on soaring prices in the high-end real estate market.

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"This is, for sure, the best year since 2014," said Amir Makansi, the chief executive officer and partner at Anglo Americana Consultoria de Imoveis, a boutique brokerage that specialises in luxury properties.

Apartments in Vila Nova Conceicao, the most expensive neighbourhood in Brazil, are selling for as much as 13.5 million reais (S$4.65 million), according to Mr Makansi. Costs have jumped as high as 35,000 reais per square metre from about 25,000 reais five years ago.

Revenue at Anglo Americana doubled in the first four months of 2019 from from the same period last year, according to the company, which declined to give specific figures.

Construction company Even Construtora e Incorporadora is building the first residential tower under the Fasano brand - a name synonymous with affluence in the hotel and restaurant markets.

Over the course of just one month, the company sold more than half of the building's 70 apartments at an average price of 10 million reais.

"The residential real estate market is recovering due to the effect of low interest rates, but there is also more confidence with expectations the Brazilian economy will perform better," said Thiago Alonso de Oliveira, CEO at JHSF Participacoes, a development company that owns the Fasano brand.

The warehouse sector may be the next to gain traction as economic growth picks up, he said.

Brazil's gross domestic product is expected to expand 2 per cent this year, up from 1.1 per cent in 2018 and 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

But optimism about the economy has been fading in recent months, with GDP coming in below initial forecasts in seven of the past eight years, stoking concern that the luxury real estate rally may be short-lived.

New residential sales in Sao Paulo surged 39 per cent in the 12 months through February, to 932.5 million reais, according to builders association Secovi-SP.

The number of units sold jumped 50 per cent to 2,176. Among all new apartments with three or four bedrooms offered during the period, 45 per cent were sold.

Commercial real estate is suffering from a weak economy. Prices in that market in Sao Paulo fell 2.5 per cent in the 12 months through March, according to the FipeZap Index.

Among the main buyers were entrepreneurs, bankers and hedge fund managers, who had a good year in 2018 and received big bonuses, Mr Makansi said.

The Fasano apartments will be built in the luxury neighbourhood of Itaim, at about 33,000 reais per sq m, Vinicius Mastrorosa, Even's chief financial officer and investor relations director, said in an interview.

New zoning rules in Sao Paulo that permit taller buildings close to public transportation will allow Even to build 40-storey towers with two penthouses and just two apartments per floor. Most apartments will be 290 sq m (3,100 square feet), and the two penthouse units will be 500 sq m.

Construction has not started on the building, which will be part of a complex that also includes a Fasano hotel.

"It was not easy finding land for construction in such a refined neighborhood as Itaim - we had to buy 25 houses," Mr Mastrorosa said, adding that complex has space for three restaurants, a pool and a bar. BLOOMBERG