What are the differences between SFH and SFI systems in real estate financing?

If you are looking for a property and want to purchase it through financing, you may have already encountered the abbreviations SFH and SFI. What do they mean in practice? Can I opt for either? This is what we will explore in this article.

How does SFH work?

The SFH (Housing Finance System) was created in 1964 to facilitate home ownership through long-term financing.

Over the years, SFH has undergone adjustments in its rules. Those currently in force determine that:

  • the property to be financed must be residential;
  • The contractor must be an individual;
  • the contractor may not have other financing already in force by SFH;
  • For the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and the Federal District, the maximum value of the property can not exceed $ 950 thousand; for the other states, the limit is $ 800,000;
  • At most 80% of the value of the property can be financed, considering in this total the ancillary expenses;
  • crossing the two rules above, the maximum financed amount is R $ 760 thousand for São Paulo, Rio de Haneiro, Minas Gerais and Distrito Federal and R $ 640 thousand for the other states;
  • The Maximum Effective Cost (CEM) for the loan contractor shall not exceed the rate of 12% per annum;
  • The FGTS balance can be used to settle part of the financed amount.
  • The amount of the financing installment may not exceed 30% of the contractor’s gross monthly income;
  • The maximum term of the contract is 420 months (35 years).

The fact that SFH resources originate from the FGTS and savings account deposits, coupled with the need to comply with all the rules described above, offer the buyer a viable long-term financing alternative.

How does SFI work?


The SFI (Real Estate Financial System) appeared most recently in 1997. It can be said that it encompasses all real estate financing that does not comply with SFH rules.

A few few rules apply to this system:

  • The financing is applicable to real estate of any kind;
  • The buyer can be both individual and corporate;
  • there is no limit value for the property to be financed;
  • up to 90% of the property value can be financed;
  • The interest rate is negotiated between the parties, without limitation of 12% per year.
  • there is no possibility of using the FGTS balance;
  • There is no income commitment limit for the settlement of the installments;
  • The maximum period for discharge is 420 months (35 years), as in SFH.

Funds for the SFI generally come from investment funds. It is a system marked by deregulation, without the requirements of SFH. All of this entails a greater risk for the financial institution, so higher interest rates are usually negotiated.

SFH or SFI: Can I opt for either system?

SFH or SFI: Can I opt for either system?

As stated, the two systems are virtually non-overlapping. There is usually no option for either. Considering the conditions of the property and the buyer, if there is a full compliance with the rules established by SFH, this is the best option. Otherwise, refer to the SFI.