28 May 2016
Transferring ownership of a property in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, and Mendoza, Argentina
Conveyancing (or more correctly ‘conveyance’) is the legal term for the process by which ownership of property is transferred from one person to another. A conveyance is a deed (legal document) that conveys a house from the vendor (seller) to the buyer, thereby transferring ownership.
Finding a Conveyancer
Property conveyancing is usually done by a solicitor, a solicitor’s agent (Uruguay and Chile) or a licensed conveyancer. Ask your friends, neighbors, and colleagues if they can recommend an Argentine solicitor or an Argentinian licensed conveyancer, as personal recommendations are always best.
It’s advisable to use a local professional who knows the area and is familiar with local planning restrictions. Estate agents and local lenders may give you the name of a solicitor if you ask, but they’re usually reluctant to give recommendations. Some large estate agents offer an in-house conveyancing service, although you may be better off with an independent solicitor or conveyancer, as an agent’s services could lead to a conflict of interest.
Tip: If possible you should engage a solicitor who has been personally recommended, as frauds committed by solicitors aren’t unknown and have risen in recent years.
What Conveyancing Involves
Conveyancing a property purchase should involve the following:
- Ensuring that a ‘good’ title is obtained and verifying ownership.
- Checking whether the land has been registered and the existence of any restrictive covenants or rights of way.
- Checking that any structural alterations (extensions, loft conversions, etc.) have the necessary planning permission and building licenses and whether they have a warranty.
- Carrying out local authority searches.
- Ensuring that there are no debts against a property.
- Checking the lease and its clauses (leasehold apartments only).
- Drawing up a contract of sale.
- Arranging registration of the title in the new owner’s name after the sale of the property.
Other Checks in Argentina
Things that you may wish to specifically ask your conveyancer to check could include:
- Checking who owns adjacent vacant land or fields and what degree of development, if any, would be allowed. Beware if it has been ‘zoned’ for commercial activities.
- Checking what the land under and surrounding a house was originally used for, particularly if it’s a relatively modern house. This could include mining, industrial sites (pollution), landfill, waste sites, a burial ground for dead animals (e.g. foot and mouth disease, etc.) and military use (unexploded ordnance), all of which should be avoided.
- Checking whether a property is prone to flooding and whether it has been flooded in recent years. If you’re planning to buy a coastal property you should also take into consideration erosion and global warming (which, if the worst forecasts come to pass, could lead to the flooding of many coastal towns within 50 years or less).
- Checking whether there are any future developments in the vicinity that could affect the value of the property such as a railway line, motorway or industrial plants, radio or mobile phone masts, electricity sub-stations or plants, sewage works, landfill sites, etc.
- Ensuring that the person selling a property is the sole owner or has the right to sell. It isn’t unknown for a husband or wife to sell a home without telling his or her spouse, forge the spouse’s signature and disappear with the proceeds, in which case you can end up owning only half a house.
Our law firm will guarantee the title to (and records the ownership of) interests in registered land in Argentina and Uruguay. Anyone has the right to inspect the Land Registry’s records and check who owns land or property registered in Argentina and Uruguay, whether or not there’s a mortgage attached to it and any restrictions of use or unusual rights of way (in Uruguay it’s also possible to inspect the Registry’s copies of registered mortgages)
It is possible to complete the conveyancing in a few days. But usually takes weeks, with the whole process from agreeing to a sale to the exchange of contracts taking two to three months. Certain aspects of conveyancing can go faster; for example, you can opt for a personal search which will speed up the local authority searches from weeks or months to just a few days. There is an extra cost for this service of around £50.
A new service in recent years, which provides online conveyancing searches via the internet to Argentine and Uruguayan solicitors and licensed conveyancers. Using this system a typical sale should take just ten days instead of the current four weeks. Prices are competitive, but the major selling point isn’t price but speed. Many online conveyancers charge a basic fee of around £300 plus disbursements and VAT. They may offer a no completion, no fee guarantee. So it’s in their interest to ensure that your sale or purchase goes through.
Since 1988, buyers employ a licensed conveyancer. Expect to pay between £750 and £1,000 for a home costing £150,000, although many lenders offer an inexpensive fixed-fee service. Obtain a quotation in writing before any work starts. Check whether it’s ‘full and binding’ or just an estimate. Disbursements include fees such as stamp duty, Land Registry fees and search fees. They are payable separately on completion, plus VAT to the total.
Your conveyancer will need to know the name of the selling agent (if applicable). Also, the property details, a list of any special points such as items included in the sale. For example, carpets, light fittings, appliances, furniture, garden ornaments, etc. The, anything agreed regarding the condition of a house.
If applicable, your conveyancer will need details of your sources of finance (bank, building society, etc.). Also, the contact name and telephone number of your lender.
If you’re selling, your solicitor will need details of where the deeds are, and your mortgage account number (if applicable). Also, the name of your lender, and the branch office and telephone number. Then, you should provide copies of planning consents for any work you’ve had done on the house.
When you’re buying and selling, you must pay conveyancing fees on both properties.
Buenos Aires Conveyancing
It’s possible and perfectly legal to do your own conveyancing and there are a number of good DIY books available.
Tip: If you do your own conveyancing, have the paperwork checked by an Argentine or Uruguayan solicitor or conveyancer.