International Real Estate: House Hunting in … ArgentinaNovember 29, 2018
A Five-Bedroom Estate in Mendoza
Anchored by a five-bedroom house, the estate comes with landscaped gardens, fruit and nut trees, an olive grove, a small pine forest where edible mushrooms grow and enough malbec vines to produce about 300 bottles of wine annually.
The 11,840-square-foot house, built in 2000 by the current owner, has multiple balconies and a colonnaded terrace with views of the snowy peaks of the Andes Mountains. The property includes a 60-by-20-foot swimming pool, a lagoon used to irrigate the land, a gardening shed and a storage building for cars or machinery. A stable for eight horses includes “a place for the gaucho who takes care of the horses to stay,” said Marco Scopinaro, the owner.
Near the front of the estate, a newly renovated “adobe house with a cane roof, typical of local construction,” is divided into a one-bedroom caretaker’s apartment and a two-bedroom guesthouse, said Fernanda Canals, the president of ReMind Group, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Argentina, which has the listing.
Past a large iron gate, a nearly mile-long driveway leads through the vineyards, gardens and orchards to the home’s stone stairway and double entry doors. The foyer, which has a porcelain tile floor, opens on the right to the “quincho,” or barbecue room, with a beamed ceiling and pine floor. A large copper-hooded fireplace with a rotisserie faces the dining table. Across the room, a stone fireplace complements the seating area.
To the left of the entrance hall is a formal living room with a 26-foot gabled ceiling, a fireplace, Lapacho hardwood floors and four sets of French doors leading to a covered terrace. The room is dominated by a colorful mural painted by Sergio Roggerone, a local artist. The mural is among the items, including furniture, that are included in the sale, Mr. Scopinaro said.
Down the hall, a den opens to porches on two sides and, on a third, to the kitchen, which has custom wood cabinets, marble countertops and a center island with a hooded range.
Up a short flight of stairs, the master bedroom has a vaulted wood-plank ceiling, a sitting area, east- and west-facing balconies and two walk-in closets. The porcelain-tiled master bath includes a double vanity with a marble counter and separate rooms for an antique cast-iron bathtub, a shower, and a toilet and bidet. Four more en suite bedrooms are downstairs, each with garden access, mountain views and a tiled bathroom with a vanity, a cast-iron tub, a toilet and a bidet.
Two studios upstairs have large arched windows that open to east- and west-facing balconies. One has bookshelves and is currently used as an art studio; the other is being used as a children’s playroom. A wine cellar, maid’s quarters and a three-car garage are on the lower level.
Luján de Cuyo sits at the eastern foot of the Andes Mountains, in the high-altitude vineyards of the upper Mendoza valley. The area is known for its malbec, but produces other varieties of wine as well. Several wineries are within a five-minute drive of the property, and the center of the city of Mendoza is about 25 minutes away. The mountainous area also offers hiking, horseback riding, boating and skiing. Governor Francisco Gabrielli International Airport, in Mendoza, is a 40-minute drive.
Like the rest of the housing market in Argentina, Mendoza’s real estate has been “strongly impacted” by the country’s recent currency devaluation, Ms. Canals said.
In August, Argentina’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate to 60 percent in an effort to stanch a sharp decline in the value of the peso. The devaluation may have helped Mendoza’s regional wine export business, Ms. Canals said, but the benefits were “neutralized by the inflation that made costs go up.”
During a flurry of buyer activity in early November, she said, her office discounted prices by 10 to 20 percent.
Viviana Reissis Etchegoin, sales manager of Ginevra Sotheby’s International Realty, said that investors, typically the most common buyers in Mendoza, are now “reluctant to invest in Argentina,” and many foreigners are selling their assets. “We have a lot of properties for sale, but not too many interested in buying.”
At Algodon Wine Estates, a wellness, golf, tennis and equestrian resort with coveted backyard vineyards, only six or seven houses have been finished in phase one of development, out of approximately 97 lots that range from half an acre to seven acres and start at $120,000.
The most popular locations with foreign and luxury buyers are “without a doubt” private gated communities with “beautiful amenities,” said Fanny Cruz, the owner of Fanny Cruz Real Estate, as well as 24/7 security.
Ms. Etchegoin seconded that: “In Argentina,” she said, “you have to think about security.”
But three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses in those communities “that last year were selling for $325,00,” Ms. Cruz said, “today are at $250,000.”
Condominiums are plentiful and popular. “They are widely requested by an ascending socioeconomic class,” she said, particularly buyers between 35 and 45 seeking round-the-clock private security and a “premium lifestyle.” Units of about 1,200 to 1,300 square feet sell for $280,000 to $300,000, she said.
Who Buys in Argentina
In Mendoza, foreign buyers are mostly from Brazil and Chile, with some Americans in the mix, Ms. Etchegoin said.
The Europeans and Americans who do buy in the area usually prefer “fincas” — estates or rural properties, Ms. Canals said.
Damian Tabakman, dean of the EN Real Estate School of Business in Buenos Aires, said that several gated real estate developments with vineyards previously drew foreigners to Mendoza, but “nowadays, because of the local economic situation, only Argentines are buyers there.”
Noting that Argentina’s economy has historically cycled through booms and busts, however, Mr. Tabakman expressed optimism about the future: “I hope that Mendoza will be able to have foreign buyers again, from Europe and the U.S.A., because projects there are similar to what you may find in Napa Valley.”
Dollars, not Argentine pesos, are used for pricing and transactions.
Among the requirements for foreign buyers are “a corresponding visa, an ID provided by the government of Argentina and an address certificate provided by the province of Mendoza,” Ms. Cruz said.
Argentina places some restrictions on properties close to a national border or on a lake. In Mendoza, buying properties west of Ruta 40, a highway that runs the length of Argentina and bisects the city of Mendoza, requires authorization from the Ministry of the Interior, Ms. Canals said.
A notary is necessary to obtain a deed.
Languages and Currency
Spanish; Argentine peso (1 ARS = $0.03)
Taxes and Fees
Property taxes on this house are about $2,000 a year.
Closing costs run close to 10 percent of the sale price; that includes a 2.5 percent stamp tax and about 4 percent for notary fees and deed expenses. In addition, the buyer and seller each pay a 3 percent commission to the real estate agent.