Work Abroad but earn in USD

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Real Estate Agents in Argentina... They Don't Measure Up To Reators

Thus far, I have not been impressed with the quality of the real estate agents here in Argentina. Before you say, "So fire your agent then," please realize that I'm not talking about my own agent here. I'm talking about the sellers' agents. These are the people who are supposed to be motivated to sell the properties of the homeowners they represent. Yet, I find their professionalism lacking.

Consistently Late to Viewings

I've probably viewed 10-15 apartments so far. In all but about four cases, the seller's real estate agent was not on-time. In two extreme cases, the other agent failed to show up entirely and couldn't be contacted by my agent at all. We were left waiting at the apartment and no one appeared.

Just today, for example, we showed up at an apartment at 11:00 AM, as scheduled, and waited outside for 10 minutes. This, sadly to say, was not unusual. Even the good agents here seem to always run 5-10 minutes late. Well, after 10 minutes my agent tried calling the seller's agent... nothing.

After trying on the cell phone for another 10 minutes, my agent finally got in touch with her at 11:20. Now, I don't speak much Spanish, but I heard, "Where are you? We've been waiting here 20 minutes. What's the problem?" Was she running late at different viewing? Closing a sale? Something else important? Nope. Her reply was, "Oh, it was at 11:00 AM? Oops, I'm getting dressed right now." She was still at home and hadn't even put her clothes on yet! I'm sorry, but how lazy is that? Get out of bed and get down here at the time you agreed to be here. These people are supposed to be professionals. Come on!

Little Effort In Presentation

Today, I walked through two apartments that were so cluttered and messy that I had to literally step over things to avoid tripping. In both cases the agents warned me about the clutter beforehand. They asked me to visualize the the apartment without all the junk. While I'm willing to do that, I should point out that its a lot easier to do when you actually clean up the place a little.

I've also walked into places that had the curtains drawn or blinds shut and the lights turned off. These apartments were dark. My agent actually had to tell the other agent, "How about opening the blinds?" And this is in city where every apartment listing advertises about how bright it is -- "muy luminoso" they all say. You'd think that if people are so obsessed about brightness in the apartments, they'd actually have the curtains opened up when a potential buyer walks in.

Lying Straight To Your Face

I asked an seller's agent today, "So, how much is this property going for?" The reply, "$145,000, but you could offer $142,000." My agent was with me and said, "No, I think its $140,000." The seller's agent said back, "No, it is $145,000." Well, at this point my agent pulls out the clipping of the apartment that was published in today's edition of La Nacion and shows it to her, "No, its advertised at $140,000."

Just amazing! Give me break! Even if I liked the apartment, I wouldn't have made an offer if I had to deal with people like that. I may be a foreigner, but I know how to read a newspaper. I wasn't born yesterday and don't think that I'm going to pay extra for your apartment. Yes, I do know how much apartments in this neighborhood should be selling for. I did my homework, so don't think you can cheat me.

Sorry for the rant, but today was not a good day apartment hunting. Its a good thing that I'm a very deliberate and patient person. Still, I think expats should know what they are in for when they look for apartments here. If you thought finding a place was tough in the US, just wait until you get here. A good amount of patience is definitely needed. And learn the going rate per square meter in the neighborhoods you're interested in before you even start looking. You need to be able to tell what is overpriced and what is fairly priced. I was seeing a lot of overpriced apartments today.

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Blogger familiaoconnell said...

Welcome to Argentina!

This is not a highly regulated industry here as we have found out in our various transactions. You are best to try to throw out all your preconceptions of what a real estate transaction should be like. Best I can tell you are working with an agent that sells to and for mostly expats so his approach will be quite different than working with a local broker. Prices are arbritary. It doesnt matter what price they put in the paper today..if it rains tomorrow it can go up $10,000. Part of the reason it is almost impossible to get comparables or previous selling prices is that most of the selling price is not declared. Most of the selling prices settles in a foreign bank or in cash. Is it legal? no but the majority of transactions happen this way and when in Rome.... As long as you have a title it doesnt really matter how the transation settles. Thats were you can have problems..with title. A friend, an argentine, had a property confiscated becasue a realtive of the previous dead owner decided to make a claim and it was within the many years allowable. Make sure to have a complete title seach done.

The reality of the way you do real estate down here makes it almost impossible, other than agriculturally to make business sense out of your purchase.

Personally if I were you a would rent something really cool that I loved for 2 years and then decide if I wanted to buy....

As to the tardiness of the brokers...I cant make excuses for them but it is one of things I love/hate about this country...there is really very little urgency about anything here (except the driving). It is important especially if you are doing business here to realize A type personalities are less abundant and more people than not "work to live" and not "live to work." Also..time is a relative concept..and most argentines relate to it in a very relaxed way....

6/04/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to change your expectations. Not only does this market operate very differently, this is a sellers market right now and prices will change not only because of demand but becasue you are an expat....Maybe not fair but it is reality.

6/04/2005 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

I think if you remember in our meeting I warned you about all of these things. I wish I could tell you that this is rare but it's the norm here. Realtors here just are horrible compared to the USA and UK.

Also, as I posted in my blog - these people will steal the shirts off your back. I have looked at over 600 apartments now for myself and my clients since moving here. I can't tell you how frustrating of a process is. My clients don't pay me enough.

El Expatriado. Hang in there. I saw 50 apartments before I bought my first one. Also, keep in the back of your head. After finding the apartments there are more jumps and hurdles to roll through. A good 50% of my clients felt like walking away from the deal because of shady sellers.

Let me know if you need help.

6/06/2005 12:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to lose the ugly American attitude. Complaining about waiting 10 minutes? Get over it!

6/23/2005 12:56:00 PM  

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