As a follow-up to our first article about buying property in Buenos Aires, we thought we’d bring in a ringer. In this brief legal overview of buying real estate here in Buenos Aires, lawyer and US Embassy consulate assistant, Gastón Marano helps to clarify this accessible, yet complicated process.
Buying property in Argentina as a foreigner is a fast, affordable and seemingly easy process, especially when the applicable regulations are compared to those of other countries of the region, which are more restrictive on the matter.
The first thing that is important to understand is that there are no restrictions in terms of who can buy real estate in the country. Anyone from registered companies to individuals — regardless of their status — can be buyers. In simple terms, it does not really matter if you are a resident or not, if you are in the country or have never set foot in it. You can still purchase a nice house in the city of Buenos Aires or a own a relaxing viñedo in the fields of Mendoza.
That said, there is a basic requirement to fulfill: in order to buy and own property and to pay all necessary taxes associated with these types of transactions, you need to have some kind of tax status. If you are a legal resident you probably already have a CUIL (Clave Única de Identificación Laboral) assigned if you work for a third party or a CUIT (Clave Única de Identificación Tributaria) if you are self-employed or independent professional. Any of those two (CUIT or CUIL) will do in terms of satisfying the “tax identification” requirement when buying property. If you are not eligible to have a CUIL or CUIT assigned to you (such in the case of someone that has never been in the country), you will have to apply for the residual category of tax identification called CDI (Clave de Identificación). I will not go into the specifics of getting a Tax ID in Argentina, since that deserves its own specific article.
The first thing you need to do is to find some real estate that you like and is available for sale, but I’ll assume that part is covered. Depending on many factors, you will have the chance to negotiate directly with the owner or, as in most cases, through a realtor. One way or another, I strongly advise you to retain the services of an attorney. Many people will wrongly assume that they do not need a lawyer if they are negotiating through a realtor because s/he will protect the buyer’s interests. The truth is, the realtor is an intermediary between both parties and has an especially personal interest (his/her fees are paid only if the deal is closed, and those fees are usually established as a percentage of the final price of the sale; the higher the price, the higher the fee paid). In sum, considering the costs involved in buying real estate, the hourly-fee of an attorney to prevent any surprises is well justified.
Once both parties have reached an agreement, the buyer will typically be requested to pay a “seña” or “reserva” (safety deposit), while the final agreement is written and signed in front of a notary public. This deposit constitutes a sort of insurance for both parties: the buyer will lose it if the operation is not completed to his/her fault and the seller will have to return it, doubled, if he/she backs out from the transaction.
The sales agreement that is properly prepared and signed is called “Boleto de Compra-Venta,” and is usually signed at the same time the buyer makes the down payment to secure the operation.* Typically, a month after the signature of the “boleto,” the buyer completes the payment and receives the property title – known as “Escritura.” At the same time, an update is made for the registry of the individual property in the “National Registry for Real Estate” to reflect the change of ownership.
This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for a specific legal advice. A responsible legal professional will only provide advice based on the consideration of all the details involved in each individual case. Make sure you consult with an attorney before making any determinations on buying or selling property in Argentina.