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Rio’s Foreign Property Investors Score Deals on Currency Woes

A slump in Brazil’s real is heating up the high-end housing segment.

Brazil House Approves Eletrobras Privatization Bill, Moving Vote To Senate
Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

As Covid-19 emptied Rio de Janeiro’s beaches and overwhelmed hospitals, luxury realtor Frederic Cockenpot was flooded with requests. Business were shut and the economy was reeling, but foreign clients were desperate to do deals.

“They said, ‘Fred, find me something now, I need to send the money right now,’” said Cockenpot, who runs WhereInRio, an agency that caters to international buyers.

For investors with hard currency, a 21% plunge in the Brazilian real since the start of 2020 has enticed them to pick up real-estate bargains. Buyers have pounced on dips and swings in the foreign exchange rate, purchasing vacation homes and investment properties — and betting that better times are ahead for a city still fighting a rampant Covid outbreak that's battered the economy and become a major political crisis for President Jair Bolsonaro.