House Hunting in Argentina: A Historic Flat in Central Buenos Aires

While transactions fell sharply in 2020, not every sector languished. While Buenos Aires’s lockdown, from March through November, curtailed property tours, it also shifted buyers’ interest from the city to roomier homes in gated communities in the northern suburbs, said Herman Faigenbaum, managing director with Cushman & Wakefield in Argentina.

“That market has exploded,” he said, adding that the low cost of construction has made it more attractive for families to buy plots and build homes. (Mr. Faigenbaum estimated the average price for an apartment in Buenos Aires at about $167 a square foot, based on data models used by Reporte Inmobiliario, the South American real estate portal.)

Within the city, buyers who remained active were drawn both to smaller, lower-density buildings and to larger mixed-use buildings with retail, office, commercial and amenities that resemble “a small club within the city,” Mr. Faigenbaum said. Amenity-rich complexes, which were popular years ago before losing some of their luster, are hot again, he said.

Ms. Massa said the city’s trio of chic waterfront neighborhoods — Belgrano, Recoleta and Palermo — remain in demand. And Mr. Faigenbaum added that Villa Crespo and Chacarita, adjacent to those areas, saw spillover interest. “The pandemic has really driven those pieces of real estate to become more valuable,” he said.

Overall, Ms. Massa said, sales volume at her agency withered last year, leaving “more rentals than sales.” One reason is that buyers are expecting lower prices, but in many cases sellers are holding firm, she said. A lot of property is owned outright in Argentina, or with small mortgages, reducing pressure on sellers of high-end properties to unload for fear of burdensome payments.

“When we are in this premium market, even though the apartment may be empty, owners try to defend their prices,” she said.

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