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Understand the title deed when buying a property in Argentina

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Considering property investment in Argentina is appealing. You can find options ranging from historic city apartments to vast rural ranches with great potential.

However, international buyers may find it difficult to understand the Argentine real estate market, especially when they need to confirm if the "escritura pública", which is the official title deed in Argentine, is genuine and legal.

We have actually covered this specific document (among others, like the sales contract) in our property pack for Argentina.

In this article, we will give some insight to ensure a smooth and legally compliant property transaction in Argentina.

However, please do not forget that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that we are not legal experts. It's always advisable to consult with one. They can indeed thoroughly examine your specific situation and provide you with the most appropriate and tailored advice.

What is the escritura pública in Argentina?

The "escritura pública," often simply called "escritura" in Argentina, is a crucial document in real estate transactions.

It's a deed that is publicly notarized, recording the transfer of property from one party to another. This deed is essential for the legal transfer of property ownership in Argentina.

Unlike other property documents such as a title search or a provisional purchase agreement, the escritura pública is the final, formal document that signifies ownership.

It's prepared by a public notary after ensuring all the legal requirements are met, such as the payment of relevant taxes and the completion of all necessary paperwork. This document is then registered with the public registry, solidifying the transfer of ownership.

The rights conferred by the escritura pública are substantial. It legally recognizes you as the property owner, enabling you to exercise full control over the property. This means you can sell it, rent it, modify it (within legal and zoning limits), and even use it as collateral for loans.

However, it's important to note that owning property in Argentina doesn't automatically grant you residency rights in the country. Also, as the owner, you're responsible for all legal liabilities related to the property, including taxes and adherence to local regulations.

For its reliability, the escritura pública is highly dependable. It's a notarized document, making it a legal instrument recognized by the state. The registration of this document in the public registry adds an extra layer of security and legitimacy.

Regarding resale and inheritance, the escritura is pivotal. For resale, you need to have a clear escritura to transfer the property to a new owner legally. Without this, selling the property can be legally complicated, if not impossible.

In terms of inheritance, a clear and updated escritura simplifies the process of transferring property to heirs. This is particularly important for foreign investors who might not be familiar with Argentine inheritance laws.

For foreign investors, owning property in Argentina via the escritura pública means they have the same rights and obligations as Argentine nationals.

However, they should be aware of any specific regulations that apply to foreign property owners, especially concerning taxes and repatriation of funds.

The escritura is key to ensuring a smooth and legally sound investment in Argentine real estate.

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How to verify a title deed in Argentina?

The process

Verifying the authenticity of an "escritura pública" in Argentina is a crucial step in ensuring a secure real estate transaction. To do this, several approaches and entities are involved.

Firstly, the most direct way to verify an escritura pública is through the public registry (Registro de la Propiedad Inmueble) in the province where the property is located.

Each province in Argentina has its own registry, and they are responsible for recording all property transactions, including the escritura pública.

By contacting them, you can request a history report of the property, which will include details of all registered transactions and current ownership status. This report will help confirm whether the escritura pública in question is legitimately registered and corresponds to the property and seller.

Notaries play a significant role in the process. In Argentina, notaries are highly respected legal professionals responsible for drafting and authenticating the escritura pública.

They also ensure that all legal requirements are met before the property transfer. If you have doubts about an escritura pública, consulting with a notary is advisable. They can examine the document for any irregularities and can also verify its registration with the public registry.

Lawyers, especially those specializing in real estate, are another resource. They can provide legal advice, help interpret the information obtained from the public registry, and offer guidance on the overall legal process. They can also conduct due diligence to ensure that there are no legal impediments to the sale, such as liens or encumbrances on the property.

Real estate agents can assist in the process, but their role is more limited compared to notaries and lawyers. They can provide practical advice and facilitate communications, but they are not qualified to authenticate legal documents or provide legal advice.

When it comes to identifying red flags and avoiding scams, be vigilant for a few key indicators. Be cautious if the seller is rushing the transaction or if there's a reluctance to provide the escritura pública for verification. Always ensure the names on the escritura match the seller's identity.

Be wary of any discrepancies in property details between the escritura and the actual property. Also, never make any payments or sign any agreements without first verifying the authenticity of the escritura pública and consulting with a notary or lawyer.

Remember, taking these steps diligently can safeguard you against fraudulent transactions and ensure a secure property acquisition in Argentina.

What to check

Understanding a property's history and ensuring its legal standing are fundamental in any real estate transaction in Argentina, especially when dealing with the "escritura pública" or title deed.

To access and trace a property's history, you should visit the local Registro de la Propiedad Inmueble (Property Registry) in the province where the property is located. This registry maintains records of all transactions, ownership changes, and legal claims related to each property.

Requesting a history report provides a detailed account of past ownerships and transactions. This is crucial because it helps establish the property's legal trajectory, ensuring that there are no hidden complications like disputed inheritances or unclear ownership transitions.

Understanding past ownerships is vital. It reveals the property's transactional background and helps detect any irregularities or legal issues that might affect your ownership. For example, a property with a history of frequent, short-term ownerships might indicate potential problems.

To check for outstanding debts or liens, inquire at the Registro de la Propiedad Inmueble about any "gravámenes" (encumbrances) registered against the property. This includes debts, mortgages, liens, or any legal claims that might be unresolved.

Such encumbrances can have significant implications for a new owner, as they often need to be cleared before or during the purchase process. If not addressed, these liabilities could transfer to you as the new owner, impacting your legal and financial standing.

Verifying the property's measurements and boundaries as stated in the title deed is also critical. Inconsistencies can lead to disputes with neighbors or legal challenges.

To verify this information, you can consult a "catastro" (cadastral survey) document, which provides the official measurements and physical details of the property.

If there are discrepancies between the escritura and the catastro, these need to be resolved legally, often involving a surveyor and possibly legal amendments to the property documents.

For zoning laws and land use restrictions, you should contact the municipal government where the property is located.

Municipalities in Argentina have specific regulations regarding land use, building codes, and zoning. They can provide information on what activities are permitted on the property and any restrictions or obligations that apply.

This is particularly important if you plan to develop the property, as non-compliance with zoning laws can lead to legal challenges or the inability to use the property as intended.

In all these steps, consulting with professionals like a real estate lawyer or a notary is highly advisable.

They can guide you through the process, help interpret legal documents, and ensure that your investment is secure and compliant with Argentine law.

Remember, due diligence in real estate is not just about evaluating the physical property but understanding its legal standing and history to protect your investment.

After our research and the feedback collected from our local real estate partners, we have written an article about the risks and pitfalls when buying a property in Argentina, you might want to check it out.

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How to update the title deed after the property transaction in Argentina?

After purchasing a property in Argentina, updating the title deed, known as the 'escritura pública,' is a key step in cementing your ownership. This process begins once the purchase transaction is completed.

The notary who facilitated your purchase transaction prepares the new escritura pública. This document will reflect the change in ownership, containing your details as the new owner and the specifics of the transaction.

The updated escritura pública must then be registered with the local Registro de la Propiedad Inmueble (Property Registry) in the province where the property is located.

This registration is crucial as it publicly records you as the new owner, ensuring legal recognition of your ownership. The time it takes to complete this registration can vary, but it's an essential step for protecting your property rights.

Once the title deed is verified and the property is officially yours, considering certain types of insurance and additional protections is advisable.

For instance, property insurance is essential. It covers damage to the property from various risks like fire, theft, or natural disasters. Liability insurance is also advisable, as it protects you against legal claims if someone is injured on your property. These insurances safeguard your investment and provide peace of mind.

For foreign owners, understanding how the title deed interacts with inheritance laws is important. In Argentina, inheritance laws apply to anyone who owns property in the country, regardless of their nationality.

This means that your property in Argentina will be subject to Argentine inheritance laws upon your passing. These laws include forced heirship provisions, meaning a portion of your estate must go to certain family members, like children or spouses.

Therefore, it's crucial to have a clear estate plan that considers these laws. Consulting with a legal professional experienced in Argentine law is advisable to navigate these complexities.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.