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Affordable living in great Amazon rainforest location

The property market in Brazil appears to be heating up and, mark my words, I plan to dive in with the zeal of seasoned real estate pros like Donald Trump or that Barbara woman from "Shark Tank."

At issue is what to do with 12 soccer stadiums that were either built or refurbished specifically to host the recently completed World Cup. The Brazilian government spent upwards of $3 billion so soccer fans could cheer on their teams from comfy seats, probably with cup holders. Never mind that World Cup soccer fans, from what I observed, never actually sat, preferring to sing patriotic tunes while bouncing up and down for 90 minutes, their movements making sweaty messes of the native flags they had painstakingly painted on their chests. I never figured out what they were singing but the lyrics all contained the phrase, "Whoa, OH, oh, OH oh OH."

Now the stadiums sit empty and the government faces mounting criticism for cost overruns paid for with monies originally earmarked to upgrade Brazil's poorest neighborhoods. Two French architects stepped in and proposed converting the stadiums into affordable housing units, an interesting idea if you don't mind telling people your home address is "Section Q, Row 44, Seats 85-86." Or "Seats 85-93" if you own a two-bedroom.

While I have no desire to uproot my family and relocate to a Brazilian stadium walk-up, even one with magnificent views of a soccer pitch, I would consider a vacation home. Also, I watched in envy as several friends prospered handsomely during the property flipping craze earlier this century, too timid to take the plunge. Not so this time. So get ready, Brazil, for I know what I want and I will not be denied.

For starters I will purchase two lower rows at Arena Amazonia in Manaus, convert them to apartments and quickly flip them. If the market grows temporarily soft, they will make excellent rental properties. The FIFA website says Manaus is "situated in the heart of the Amazon rainforest." Everybody knows that's realtor-speak for "smack in the middle of the jungle" but, like any good real estate agent, I will spin that into a positive. My units will be "pet friendly;" renters can have dogs and cats as well as any jaguars, spider monkeys or poison dart frogs that may wander in from the surrounding neighborhood. The "premiere jungle location" will offer "tranquil native sounds," meaning tenants can nightly hear the anguished cries of a creature being devoured by larger prey or be lulled to sleep by the steady hum of chainsaws and heavy machinery made by U.S. companies bent on deforesting the Amazonian landscape.

True, a stadium row apartment may seem a bit tight space wise, but having neighbors an arm's length below contributes to the "community feel" of my properties. Besides, half of New York City lives in units far smaller -- and worse smelling. I'll remove the seats, furnish my apartments with space-saving futons and other items from Ikea and commence flipping.

With the money I make from these units, I will purchase the press box at Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. Real estate is all about location and the stadium's proximity to the airport and Atlantic Ocean make it a can't miss investment. The press box, situated high above the field, will make a glorious penthouse apartment, one that I will use for myself. Even though I have never seen it, I'm confident very few renovations will be needed. I say this based on the fact that I have been in several press boxes and know that sports reporters demand only the finest of everything while they are watching sporting events for free.

True, my initial investment will be small. But Trump started small, too, and now look at him. My long term goal is to purchase the entire Arena de Sao Paulo and convert it into a luxury hotel.

Brazilian residents will be able to see the SCHWEM logo for miles.

(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad," available at http://bit.ly/gregschwem. Visit Greg on the web at http://www.gregschwem.com.)

(c) 2014 GREG SCHWEM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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