García Menéndez Attorneys at Law is consulted about real estate in Argentina.
The Buenos Aires housing market looked promising in early 2018, but thanks to economic uncertainty, sales have since slowed and prices have fallen.
A Stately Six-Bedroom House in Buenos Aires
$3.5 MILLION (96.6 ARGENTINE PESOS)
This grand four-story townhouse is in Recoleta, an upscale coastal neighborhood in Buenos Aires known for its French-inspired architecture and cultural and historic sites like the Recoleta Cemetery, where Eva Perón and other dignitaries are buried.
The limestone house, just off the elegant Avenida Alvear, was built in 1925 and designed by the noted architect Alejandro Christophersen, whose work included the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange building.
“This is one of the last great mansions available,” said Adriana Massa, the chief executive of Adriana Massa Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing. While the house is in need of updates, she said, it retains many of its original details, including marble and Slavonian oak floors, wood-burning fireplaces and ornate moldings and columns.
The 9,687-square-foot townhouse, attached on both sides, has six bedrooms, three full baths and one half bath. Through the arched wooden doors on the ground level, a marble-floored foyer with high ceilings leads to an office area, study and powder room, with access beyond to a large marble patio and backyard.
The first floor, which can be reached by elevator, contains much of the entertaining space. A large central gallery at the foot of a grand marble staircase leads on one side to a rear-facing formal dining room with a fireplace and on the other to an expansive living room with a fireplace and a library with built-in bookshelves. The living room overlooks the residential Montevideo Street. There is also a small kitchenette on this level.
A roomy master suite with oak floors and molded arches is on the second floor, as are a terrace and two more bedrooms with en suite baths. On the top level is a family room, along with three small bedrooms, a laundry room, a large kitchen with a granite-topped island and an informal dining area, and a spacious terrace.
At the rear of the patio is space for at least four cars, as well as a small structure containing two staff rooms and a full bath.
“This house is special because of the location,” Ms. Massa said, noting its proximity to hotels like the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt and the Alvear Palace, as well as high-end shops and fashion showrooms.
Recoleta, with a population of around 200,000, is on the coast of the Rio de la Plata, in the northern area of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital. In addition to the well-known cemetery and several public parks, Recoleta is home to a number of museums, including the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Palace of the Arts and the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires. Ezeiza International Airport is about 20 miles away.
Argentina’s housing market “had a promising start in the first quarter” after a strong performance last year, said Miriam Rivas, a senior sales leader at Raul Mel Propiedades, a brokerage in Buenos Aires. But in recent months, currency fluctuations and economic turbulence have slowed activity considerably, as the country struggles to curb inflation and stimulate foreign investment.
“Ongoing sales were renegotiated,” Ms. Rivas said, “or they fell apart.”
She estimated that home prices in the second quarter were at least 10 percent lower, on average, than in the previous quarter.
Elias Kier Joffe, the managing partner of the Buenos Aires law firm Kier Joffe, said foreign buyers in particular have been wary of the economic uncertainty: “They want to wait and see, just in case there’s an opportunity.”
But he and other real estate professionals remain optimistic about the market’s eventual recovery. “Every five years you have a small crisis,” Mr. Joffe said. “The prices eventually go up.”
Ms. Rivas agreed, adding that Buenos Aires was likely to lead the way. “The Buenos Aires market is one of the most dynamic real estate markets of Argentina,” she said. “Prices normally rise more quickly and with a greater rate than in the rest of the country.”
Who Buys in Buenos Aires
Foreigners make up a small portion of home buyers in Buenos Aires, real estate professionals said. Most foreign buyers are from the United States, Britain, Italy and Spain, Mr. Joffe said, adding that he has also seen interest from Australians.
“Buenos Aires is known as the Paris of South America,” he said. “International people would like to have an apartment there, just as they would like to have an apartment in Miami or New York.”
The Recoleta neighborhood typically attracts older buyers, he said, particularly retirees or those who have business in the city. Younger buyers prefer trendier areas like Palermo Soho, he said.
There are few, if any, restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate in Argentina. But most foreign buyers pay cash because local financing is difficult to obtain, said Sebastian A. García Menéndez, a partner in the Buenos Aires law firm García Menéndez.
American dollars are typically used for pricing and transactions, rather than Argentine pesos.
The buying process is fairly straightforward, Mr. Joffe said: After an offer is made and a price agreed upon, the buyer provides a down payment, usually around 30 percent of the sale price. A date is set for the closing, at which time the deed is transferred through a notary public. The notary is also responsible for overseeing the title search and ensuring that all taxes on the property have been paid at the time of closing.
Many buyers opt to hire an experienced local real estate lawyer to help guide them through the process.