By Sean Collins, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s property market continues to prosper, prices continue to rise, and real estate is of course becoming big business. There are a lot of companies out there to choose between, however, and the quality of service varies enormously, particularly in comparison to the USA or UK. Often they don’t publish their information in English either, so it can be a very frustrating process to go through as a foreign buyer.

The Comfort Stay Verano condominium in Barra, currently being sold by winners Lopes real estate company, photo by Lopes.

Like a good many other markets, though, Brazilian real estate has its own rankings and awards to help distinguish between the best performers. Widely considered the most prestigious of these prizes is the Top Real Estate award, also known as Top Imobiliário. It includes a list of the best real estate companies in Brazil, often dominated by those in São Paulo, but increasingly in Rio too. It is one of the most important listings in the Brazilian real estate sector, and the seventeenth edition took place earlier this month.

Awarded by the Estado do São Paulo newspaper, statistics upon which the rankings are based come from the Brazilian Company of Heritage Studies (Embrasp), and the event receives financial sponsorship from Caixa Economica with further support from the housing syndicate Secovi-SP. In 1993 the newspaper conceived and created the prize, with the first given out at a simple luncheon at the Estado offices. Since then the ceremony has grown into an important recognition of excellence in the market, and has become both hugely important and competitive.

In 1977, Embraesp created the Real Estate Bulletin Data Bank, which is now known as the Telembraesp. The data is widely recognized and a trusted authority on performance, and It is on this information that the Estado do São Paulo bases its list of Top Imobiliário winners. Government statistical organizations, municipalities, universities, and industry professionals also use it as a reference point.

Guests at the 2010 Top Imobiliário Event await news of the winners, photo by Top Imobiliário.

Although São Paulo constitutes the largest real estate market in the country and dominates the top ten, many of the companies also cover Rio, and increasingly so. The calculations for the rankings are based on all types of residential real estate, be they apartment units, condominiums, houses, or otherwise and also include commercial real estate.

In 2007, in recognition of the important role that the real estate sector plays in the development of the Brazilian economy, two new categories for the Top Imobiliário award were created. One was for the most successful market performers, the other for Real Estate Person of the Year, created to recognize the professional who is considered to have contributed the most to the growth and development of the sector. Other market professionals were invited to vote for the winner from a choice of three nominees.

The nominees for the 2010 Real Estate Person of the Year were João Rossi (Rossi), João Crestana (Secovi-SP), and Elie Horn (Cyrela). João Rossi won the award, accepting it at the ceremony held on June 1st. The award for most successful market performer went to Lopes, and the full top ten Real Estate Sales companies 2010 was as follows:

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