By Matthew Elliott and Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporters

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – São Conrado, the exclusive neighborhood in Zona Sul (South Zone) lies between Leblon and Barra da Tijuca, and although long a coveted oasis, it has remained less commonly known than its two counterparts. Yet interest in the beach neighborhood has seen tremendous growth in real estate values in recent years, and is set to reach new heights still.

Apartment buildings look onto the beach in Sao Conrado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Apartment buildings look onto the beach in São Conrado, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

The neighborhood is nestled into a small bay, which can be accessed from neighboring Leblon via Avenida Niemeyer, through Zuzu Angel tunnel from Gávea and over the elevado do Joá highway from Barra da Tijuca.

While mostly known by visitors for its hang gliding starting point from Pedra Bonita, it also offers a luxurious golf course and a tranquil beach. Locals will also associate it with the enormous favela community that sits behind it, the iconic Rocinha.

São Conrado is also known for its luxurious and chic Fashion Mall, which stands out as the focal point of social events and is replete with over 120 stores carrying national and international designers, cafes, a cinema and a theater.

However, Daniel de Sousa, a resident of 26 years, would like to see more local stores in the neighborhood to provide a stronger sense of community, “The ability of people to walk around outside, visiting new and practical shops could make a real difference here.”

With the scheduled arrival of a Metro station connecting São Conrado to Centro and the Zona Sul in 2016, the neighborhood is set to change even more. A potential influx of interest and new residents capitalizing on a vastly improved transport system has set the stage for São Conrado to become an even more sought after address.

Long-time resident David Huffard, a Brazilian and U.S. dual citizen, tells The Rio Times: “The current boom in real estate in São Conrado has caught us a bit by surprise and gone higher than any imagined. All with flexibility (bachelors, small families with another location to live and only one grown child, for example) sold at what were sky high prices only to see the value then double once again.”

The favela Rocinha overlooks Sao Conrado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The favela Rocinha overlooks São Conrado, photo by Charlie Phillips/Flickr Creative Commons License.

A variety of factors have encouraged recent acceleration of interest and investment resulting in rocketing real estate prices. The pacification of Rocinha in late 2011 in particular lent a degree of market confidence in the neighborhood’s future.

As noted by local resident Kevin Costello, an American expatriate living and working in Rio, “I think the future will depend on the development of Rocinha as that is such a large portion of São Conrado.”

Another factor is global economics benefiting local property owners, and a stronger dollar will make it more appealing to foreign investors. Also Mr. Huffard suggested “a weak real should make real estate even more attractive to local investors wanting to protect their savings.”

Since 2009 and again in 2011 there have been major increases in value and rental rates. Purchase prices in São Conrado have increased over 186 percent since January 2008 according to FIPE-ZAP.

The current asking price for a two bedroom averages between R$800,000 and one million reais. The average square meter in a two bed costs R$10,954 and increases to R$11,421 for three bedrooms. Larger beachfront villas setting a luxurious standard, are fetching anywhere up to twenty million.

The lower end of the rental spectrum now begins at around R$4,000 for a two bedroom apartment, rising to between R$8-15,000 for a three or four bedroom apartment, depending on view and proximity to the beach. Most apartments are rather spacious with average square meter prices in a two bedroom apartment of R$41 in June (compared to R$67 in Leblon and R$37 in Barra).

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