Work Abroad but earn in USD

Monday, December 19, 2005

Buying Property in Argentina

Even though I've written about this in the past, I want to do another post on property ownership. This will be a summary post that gives the key points of each aspect of buying/owning property here.

Reader's Question

I would like to retire in Buenos Aires. I just saw a great property that is for sale by owner. I will pay cash for it, so financing isn't an issue, but do they have title search companies? What is the procedure since I am buying it through the owner? Are there transfer taxes, and who pays them. Are there annual taxes, etc? What about home owners insurance, etc? As you can see I am starting on my quest and don't know much.


Foreigners should forget about finding financing in Argentina. It isn't available and when it is available, the interest rates are typically outrageous. If you don't have the cash, you'll have to get a loan in your home country and use the money to buy a property here in Argentina. The main problem is that if you can't show an income and a credit history here in Argentina, the local banks don't want to work with you. They don't care if you have income or assets in the U.S. or anywhere else.


There is a stamp tax in Buenos Aires of 1.25% for both the buyer and seller when transferring the title of a property. The stamp tax differs in the various provinces. This tax is waved for your first property purchase. So, generally expatriates do not pay this. If you plan to be buying more than one property then you'll be paying it.

Title Companies

Here the title search is done by a notary or "escribano". It is the notary's responsibility to uncover any problems with the title. Argentina has a sophisticated and complete title registry that allows for the easy tracing of property ownership. Your notary will inform you if there are any problems with your property's title. Notary fees will be anywhere between 1% and 4%, depending on what notary you choose.

Property Taxes

There is an annual "asset tax" or "personal goods tax" that must be paid if you own property here. It will usually amount to 1% of the value of your property. The tax return must be prepared by your accountant here in Argentina and submitted on your behalf along with payment. Don't forget to pay your taxes!

Real Estate Agents

Real estate commissions are usually 3% for buyers and 3% for sellers. In my opinion, real estate agents here are not as good and not as ethical as the ones you'll find in the U.S. I would recommend using them only if you cannot handle buying or selling a property on your own.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance can be purchased from almost any of the major banks here in Argentina. Expect to pay about 50% more here than what you'd pay for similar coverage in the United States.

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Blogger rickulivi said...

I need you to clarify a comment you made. You wrote, in reference to owning an apartment in BA: you need to pay an annual "asset tax" or "personal goods tax" if you own property here. Question: Is this the ABL tax or is it a separate tax?

12/19/2005 11:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have bought 3 apartments in BA and the notorary/escribano fee has been 1.5%. I have never heard of anyone paying 4%. It usually is between 1-2%. You are right about the title , very sophisticated in Argentina. Also many managing agents can handle all the payments of common charges/taxes and they do not charge much for this.

12/21/2005 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

There are two separate taxes. There is an ABL tax which comes quarterly in the mail or you can pay it annually. It isn't the property tax. There is also a personal property tax or "asset tax".

This tax is mandatory for all property owned in Buenos Aires. Most foreigners are not paying this tax. This is a mistake. Unfortunately, many realtors and lawyers don't give any guidance on this. You get no tax bill in the mail. It is YOUR responsibility to file this.

You must have an accountant prepare the tax for you based on the property you owe. I own several properties and had to pay this last year. It was generally about 0.75% of the purchase price recorded on my escritura per each property. The accountant I used was fairly expensive and get this....the accountants don't pay it for you. I had to go down and pay it myself. I waited in line 2.5 hours to pay this.

Keep in mind that if you don't pay this tax you could have problems when you go to sell your property.

Make sure you understand all the laws and taxes here. Can be a bit complicated since in the USA we simply get a property tax bill. It's not the case here.

Good luck,

1/14/2006 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...

Also, The escribano fee can range from 1.5 - 2.5% of the purchase price. Honestly, it should never be more than 2.5% and that is using one of the best real estate attorneys in the city that is fully bilingual and speaks English. 4% is way too much.

1/14/2006 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Absolutely...anything over 1.5% and you're being overcharged...i've bought 2 properties here and am in the process of buying another. My escribano charges 1.25% and has done an excellent and thorough job, particularly in relation to my second purchase which had some tricky issues related to it (debt, title issues and more).

I also know a couple of escribanos socially and they never charge more than 1.5%.

As for the 'asset tax', this is charged on the value of your property (according to the value on the deed/contract, that is) with a mandatory increase of something like 5% a year in the value of your property. They also charge a very small percentage for fixtures and fittings in the property. Non-residents pay 0.75% on all assets and residents 0.5% up to roughly US$60,000 in assets (with around US$33,000 tax free) and then 0.75% over US$60,000.

You have to bear in mind that this is not a 'property tax', which is why nothing comes in the post. It is up to you to declare all your assets to the Argentine government. In the UK, and in many other countries, there is no property tax bill that comes in the post so this is not peculiar to Argentina. What is peculiar is the fact that the Argentine government doesn't make any effort to investigate non-payment.

There's a penalty for late payment that runs (i think) to about 18% per annum of the amount you owe. Assuming you ever decide to declare that is. If you're planning on living in the same property until you die there's really no reason to bother paying..!

My accountants prepared and paid this tax for me. They charged no extra for paying the bill for me.

Good luck!

1/29/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

Real Buenos Aires,

You are right about the penalties. They can approach 20% a year. I have talked to foreigners (Americans) that were never made aware of the fact they were supposed to pay this
"asset tax" (which essentially a property tax if you are a foreigner and own property here). It doesn't really matter what you call it. "asset tax" or property tax. It's a tax based on the value of the property.

It's VERY important that all foreigners are up to date on this tax. You must get AFIP's blessing when you go to sell it and they can and do check to see if you have been paying it since you bought your property. In fact, they are doing a better job lately of looking to see if you are up to date.

More and more foreigners are buying properties here. You have a GREAT accountant if he isn't charging you anything to make this for you. That is a great service.

Also, the amount an escribano just depends on all the services that he does. For most people that are buying they know nothing about the process, speak no Spanish, etc. Some of the better biligual lawyers do official legal translations of ALL the forms, get their CDI number for them, do several Power of Attorneys. It just all depends on what he/she is doing for you. Still, it shouldn't be more than 2.5%. If you are fluent and don't need all these services 1.5% should be sufficient.

Good luck all.

2/12/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger ABA said...

Also, an important update to follow up on EE's post that the stamp tax is waived on your first property purchase. There is a new law that just went into effect. The waiving of the stamp tax on your first property is only valid up to 600,000 pesos (est. u$s 200,000). Now, if you buy a bigger property the stamp tax is exempt on the first $200,000 US but the rest is taxed.

Also, it's not always evenly split 1.25% / 1.25% with the buyer and seller. Many times the seller will refuse to split it. That happens quite often.

Good luck.

2/18/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a first time buyer, of an apartment in BA that is under $200,000. I will not be living in the apartment, but use it only for vacation purposes, and occasionally rent it out. My escribano says that there is not a 0% stamp tax, but a 1.25% stamp tax since i am a foreigner. Which is the answer.

12/02/2006 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger SoyYo said...

Get yourself a new escribano. There is no stamp tax on your first property purchase. Foreigners pay the same stamp tax rate as Argentina residents. You are being cheated. Send me an e-mail and I'll refer you to an escribano you can trust.

-- EE

12/02/2006 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi EE & friends,
I am new to BA and a friend of mine in Europe wants to buy a property here and I have been trying to help him out but have come up against a few questions or confusions that I can quite sort out.
He wants everything above board (en blanco) and has found the prop he is going to buy and now has to pay the boleto. This amount exceeds 10,000 he can bring in undeclared legally. How then does he bring this additional amount in legally? I've been reading things to the effect of "it is illegal for a foreigner to do a boleto" . Even if he brings the funds in declaring them? And can he bring funds in declaring them to pay the boleto???
And if not, how do you sign/pay a seña or boleto to reserve the property?

Please help untangle this for me..

thanks loads.

3/12/2007 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Again,

Thanks E.E. for posting my previous inquiry. Also thanks for all this site all the info has been really helpful and interesting! Wish I'd come across it sooner :o) But better late than never!

I have another question to throw out into the forum if you don't mind regarding capital gains tax on property sold by non-resident foreigners .

I have tried to look into this on my own and every single source gives me varied info. I have actually asked 2 escribanos and have checked out some online info sites.

Various sources say there is zero capital gains on property for foreign investors here (mostly this is from online sources) while others (predominantly escribanos I have spoken with) tell me it is totally opposite and that it is only foreigners that have to pay capital gains tax (regardless of whether the foreigner is an individual or a company) and it is somewhere between 30-35%!

Finally that before you sell the AFIP evaluates what it considers you have gained in the time you have owned your property and then decide definitely the % you will have to pay them before consenting the sale.

Would really appreciate any feedback on this!!

Thanks in advance,


3/16/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am about to purchase a property in greater buenos aires and i have to say this has been the most stressful experience of my life. i fell in love with the property but the seller is a nightmare -refusing to move from the starting price, leaving all escritura costs to me, also leaving debts on the property and delaying with his documentation. i am thinking of just forfeiting my reserva and going for something else. the only thing that might save it is that he wants the money directly in an account in banco itau - does anybody know if the transfer rate from a european bank to this bank is favourable, or more favourable than banco piano´s 2%? if so maybe i might recoup money at this stage...the bank wont answer my answer my questions as i am not a client......more stress!

6/01/2007 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone purchased a property in the so called "security zone", eg Bariloche. If so has anyone actually got the ministry approval to make the inscription in their own name. I know lots of people waiting, but known personally you have recently been successful....

8/21/2007 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would someone please tell me how you do a property ownership lookup in BA? If you have someone's full name, DNI number, and some of the known properties, how can you find out what other properties they own? In the US, it's easy since if you know the area you just go to the central appraisal district website for that county and just put in their name. But it must be more difficult than that in BA... I am willing to pay for the service.

2/01/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are seeking professional advice for free AND you are seeking advice on a transaction that involves 100,000 USD or more of your hard earned money.

Look in the mirror and repeat after me, "My father warned me about people like me."

At least I hope your father did. Come on! Pay a professional money to help you. I'm reading this from South East Asia, and in two seconds I can find the names and addresses of someone to contact (in Argentina) about these matters.

Yes, of course I have to pay for the advice, but trying to be cheap about advice on a 100,000 USD or more investment is in my opinion, an indication that you have no business making the investment.

2/23/2008 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is in response to I find it backwards that most Argentinians evade most taxes by first declaring only 50% of the value of their home (essentially reducing their wealth/asset tax bill by 50% as well), then refuse to pay the wealth tax and get rewarded for it. (Simply because the 20% penalty would be on 50% of the actual value and often this is considerably less in penalty fees than the cost of hiring and paying $450 for an accountant to prepare your tax bill). So lets make an example of a $400k purchase.

1. Only declare purchase price of $200k thus avoiding the 1.5-3% stamp tax altogether. Savings = $3000-$6000

2. Property tax savings. Savings = $2500 per year vs $5000 if declared full amount.

3. Property tax default penalty. 20% of 2500 = $500 Only $50 penalty when you factor in that you are not paying an accountant $450 to prepare your taxes.

4. Wiring your money to Uruguay (they say it is the Switzerland of South America in terms of banking) and then taking the US cash to ARG for a house purchase versus wiring into Argentina and potentially losing 2.5% x 2 of $400,000 with a loss of $20,000.

A good United States samaritan would pay an extra $23,000 for the ARG property initially and $5420 per year in taxes and tax preparation excluding the ABL.

Paying in the black a typical Argentine would save $23,000 in upfront fees and pay no annual asset tax only to receive a lien of$3000 per year.

How is this fair and how does the Argentine government make up for the loss in revenue from its own citizens? Thank you for helping me, your website is extremely informative. I would love to invest in Argentina but I have some reservations do to the confusion of these taxes.

3/06/2008 12:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am willing to buy in BA but, how can I transfer the cash from overseas to make the payment? I have heard that there exist a restriction as banks do not take deposits in foreign currency. Can someone explain how to do this?



6/01/2010 05:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you purchase a new apartment and you do like the way the escribino is handling your purchase, can you change escribinos?

Regards, Edwin

7/08/2010 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Philippines properties said...

Great investment opportunity in Argentina. Love the places there.

Paula M

10/06/2010 12:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Avida Settings Cavite said...

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5/27/2017 12:18:00 AM  

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