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Globalizing financial valuation: International property consultants in São Paulo

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2023

Lucia Shimbo*
Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
Daniel Sanfelici
Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil
Corresponding author: Lucia Shimbo, Instituto de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, Universidade de São Paulo, São Carlos, São Paulo. Email:
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International property consultants (IPCs) have become key intermediaries in the globalization of property markets by providing a range of services that generate transparency and comparability in land and property-based investments. While their role in generating standardized information on local markets is well known, what is less is known is how IPCs help turn property into an income-yielding asset in less developed economies. This article investigates the contested diffusion of financialized valuation approaches in São Paulo's local property market. Through a qualitative inquiry into large IPCs and their main clients in the city, we show that IPCs have promoted valuation approaches that are tailored to the needs of financial market investors, thus affecting key investment decisions taken by diverse actors. Though these financialized techniques have at times clashed with more traditional views of property ownership prevalent in the country, we show that most often they co-exist with long-established valuation techniques that reflect the social and economic circumstances of Brazil's economy. The socially contingent nature of property valuation raises theoretical issues concerning the complexity of attributing value to fixed capital, as well as several policy issues.

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