The Amazon rainforest is one of the most exotic and ecologically diverse places on the planet, but can you buy land in the Amazon?
Yes, you can buy land in the Amazon. Buyers have two primary options for buying land in the Amazon, through a land trust which protects the parcel from logging and illegal development, or through the Brazilian government’s Tera Legal real estate auction program.
After extensively researching Brazilian real estate laws, I have gathered enough information to determine if buying land in the Amazon is legal. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the process of buying land in the Amazon to help you make an informed decision with your real estate acquisition.
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Can I Buy Land In Amazon?
Yes, you can buy land in the Amazon. The bulk of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil, which is where real estate transactions are most common.
In recent years, much of the world has had its eyes on the Amazon due to the massive deforestation that has been occurring. Given how ecologically dynamic and diverse the Amazon rainforest is, many outside real estate investors have been weary about pursuing developments.
However, despite the backlash from many Brazilians and the international community, land acquisitions are very common in the Amazon. Under the former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, the prospect of buying land in the Amazon became easier than ever.
Bolsonar loosened real estate laws and also opened up much of the rainforest to logging companies for deforestation. This has resulted in more Amazonian properties being available for purchase than ever before.
Can You Buy Land in the Amazon as a Foreigner?
Buying real estate abroad can be a bit of a toss-up. Each country has its own laws and regulations that dictate whether foreigners are allowed to buy, rent, or invest in land.
Brazil is currently one of the easiest places for buying real estate as a foreigner. Non-Brazilians are limited to certain restrictions and must adhere to regulations, but all in all, the process of buying a property as a foreigner in the country is quite simple.
Foreigners must ensure that all land purchases are legal and that documentation can be provided to prove ownership. For investors looking to buy land in the Amazon, this is good news given that regulations are relatively lax for non-nationals.
With that said, foreigners interested in buying land should be aware of the legal process of buying property. In addition, I would also recommend that foreign investors keep up with changes in regulations given that real estate laws in the Amazon are heavily influenced by who is currently running the country.
Whereas former president Bolsonaro’s stance on Amazonian real estate was very loose, incoming political leaders may not share the same views, which could result in more strenuous restrictions.
How Much is Land in the Amazon?
The prospect of buying land in the Amazon is appealing to a lot of investors. Real estate in the Amazon is lush, exotic, and often very affordable, with some of the most reasonably priced parcels starting at just $100 per hectare (about 2.5 acres).
However, it’s important to understand that the Amazon rainforest is incredibly large. The current size of the Amazon is 1.7 billion acres, and a lot of this land is available for purchase. While some parcels may be for sale for just $100 per hectare, you may find yourself paying a lot more than this depending on the real estate that you buy.
The price of land in the Amazon rainforest can greatly vary depending on the condition of the land, as well as the types of resources that are located on it. Logging is a massive industry in Brazil and the bulk of all trees in the country are cut down in the Amazon. Naturally, a parcel that has a lot of prized trees will cost considerably more.
Buying land that is rich in resources can easily result in prices that are as high as $1,000+ per hectare. In addition, some properties in the Amazon are already developed and may have structures, homes, and utilities. These types of land acquisitions can cost considerably more depending on the development of the parcel.
How to Buy Land in the Amazon?
If you are considering buying land in the Amazon, it’s vital that you do it legally. Amazonian lands fall into a grey area, with some parcels being strictly reserved for conservation, and some being up for grabs to investors and developers.
Buying Amazonian land through an official land trust is the best way to purchase real estate without complications. Granted this approach is only viable if you want to preserve the Amazonian land that you buy.
Working with a land trust generally requires you to give up development rights to the property so that the Amazon region can be protected from logging, illegal deforestation, as well as other ecological damage. These are some of the most common land trusts that work to protect the Amazon:
The Brazilian government has been ramping up efforts to try to create a sustainable approach for buying land in the Amazon. Since 2009, the Brazilian government has been auctioning off Amazonian land to outside investors to encourage sustainable development.
The land auction program is called ‘Terra Legal’, and it’s responsible for managing and selling roughly 59 million acres of land in the Amazon rainforest.
There are plenty of properties in the Amazon that are ‘owned’ by private individuals. Buying property directly from an individual seller or real estate organization is the most straightforward way to buy land with the freedom to pursue development.
Buyers should approach these types of real estate transactions with caution, as there needs to be legitimate documentation of land ownership for the property to be legally bought.
The issue with this is that there are a lot of fake landowners claiming that they are selling authentic Amazonian land. Be thorough with your property inspection and have a lawyer look at the deed and property before you sign any documents.
What Are the Risks of Buying Land in the Amazon
Buying land in the Amazon can be financially prosperous or ecologically ethical, depending on what your goals are. However, you need to consider the future of the Amazon rainforest to ensure that your money is being spent well.
There are undeniable risks involved in buying Amazon forest land that you should consider before you pay for a parcel. Keep the following risks in my before you buy land in the Amazon.
Whether you want to buy an acre, a hectare, or more, scams are abundant in the Amazon forest real estate market. There are a lot of fake lands being purchased, and your cash may end up going straight into a scammer's pocket, leaving you with a worthless deed.
For example, a person or company may advertise a parcel of Amazon forest claiming that its value and deed are legitimate. The listing might detail forests, rivers, biodiversity, and even a house all in one package.
However, this kind of investment needs to be approached carefully. Construction on this kind of property may be limited or the entire listing may be fake. The bottom line is that you need to be careful with any project that you are considering in the Amazon.
Land grabbing is a very common trend in the Amazon. Investors and developers have had complications attempting to buy and sell parcels due to squatters claiming that the property belongs to them.
The space that you buy may legally be yours, but this can be a problematic investment if you have to fight a legal battle to secure your land. Local governments and authorities may be of some help in this situation. However, this is not always something that you can rely on.
If you want to avoid land grabbing, make sure that you have a solid strategy in place and request to look at the deed before you sign anything. I recommend inspecting the property to ensure that no one is squatting.
In addition, speak with the owners about their experience with land grabbing before you hand over the money for the transaction.
There are local people living in the Amazon that have called this forest home for generations. Their future is at stake given that deforestation and construction in the region are destroying their way of life.
There are plenty of environmental concerns about preservation, but many people often overlook the ramifications of evicting local people from their indigenous lands. Putting local people in a position where their land is being destroyed has raised a lot of concern from the international
community and countries are putting pressure on Brazil to limit deforestation in the Amazon.
This can ultimately be problematic for investors given that land may become more regulated to ensure the preservation of indigenous lands. You can attempt to avoid these complications by purchasing a parcel that has been bought ethically without evicting indigenous locals.
The political situation in Brazil heavily influences how the Amazon is handled. The Amazon river has more pollution than ever due to cattle ranching and deforestation, and the wildlife in the rainforest is under existential threat.
This can easily result in new legislation being passed that will limit property transactions in the Amazon rainforest. Investors would be wise to observe the political environment in Brazil closely before pursuing any kind of property purchases in the region.
With Bolsonaro out of office, there is a lot of talk about increasing regulations in the Amazon and intensifying development restrictions. This can be a huge problem for investors looking to pursue developments in the Amazon.
One of the biggest risks of buying land in the Amazon is that it can have a lot of development restrictions associated with it. This is particularly the case if you decide to buy through a trust, given that their aim is to generally preserve the Amazon, not build on it.
You need to consider your goals carefully to ensure that they are in line with the parcel that you are assessing. If development is what you are interested in, you may run into obstacles down the line that limit construction. To avoid this, make sure that all of your paperwork is in order so that you know you are in your legal rights before you buy or build.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling