Tuesday, January 2, 2007
I learned something very strange today. So, I've been looking at some apartments, because the idea has been tossed around to buy an apartment in Buenos Aires as an investment. The prices are low and you can get lovely one-bedroom apartments for anywhere between 60,000-100,000 dollars. Anyway, I was in the car with Lucrecia, the real estate agent, who was describing the process of buying an apartment as a foreigner. Apparently, all owners only declare a portion of the selling price in the deed, so as to avoid taxes. This is totally common, and everybody does it. So, if you're bringing your money from outside the country, you can bring the money that is declared legally, and the remaining money that you still have to pay the owner, but that the owner isn't declaring, has to be brought in "under the table." There are organizations that will help you do this. The really funny part: the Argentinian owner does not accept transfer of money, checks, nothing that can be traced - so you have to bring it all in cash. Lucrecia was telling me about how she sold a building for $3.1 million to a foreign couple who was going to transform the place into a luxury hotel. They had to bring the money IN CASH, and the owner brought a few people and they sat there in this room, with millions of dollars on the table, and counted it all, bill by bill. It took three hours. This process is, apparently, completely normal.