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How To Buy Real Estate in Uruguay

Houses in Atlantic Coastal Haven La Paloma

Buying real estate in Uruguay is simple and straight-forward – once you have a deal sealed, so to speak. Until the seller commits to the sale by signing the pre-purchase agreement in the presence of an escribano (public notary) anything can change and it often does. If you can take it all in stride, and possibly visit an auction or two, eventually your search will end with the purchase of your new Montevideo apartment, rural ranch, exclusive Punta del Este beach home or other.

Want to know what expat life may be like?    Blogs About Uruguay.

Basic Steps to Buying Property in Uruguay

  1. Research areas in Uruguay you may want to live carefully – coastal towns that seem appealing to live in during summer are a whole different ballgame in the winter; freezing cold temperatures, strong winds, few inhabitants, businesses closed. In addition, a house built as a summer home may need extensive upgrades and repairs to be livable during the rest of the year. Take your time, don´t make hasty decisions.
  2. Elicit the assistance of a Uruguayan escribano (public notary) and an abogado (laywer) in your chosen area or nearest city.
  3. Tiendas Montevideo - Popular Home Furnishings Chain Store - at Punta Carretas Shopping Mall

  4. Search for properties using not only local realtors but online (Mercado Libre Uruguay) and by talking with locals or other expats who live there. Many owners may want to sell but do not have their property formally listed.
  5. Have your escribano prepare a boleta de reserva (pre-purchase agreement) – a document that clearly states the rights and obligations of all parties to the sale i.e. seller, buyer & realtor. Have each party review the document and sign in the presence of the Escribano.
  6. Most likely a deposit will be required of the buyer by the seller – 10-20% of agreed-upon price – and held in trust with the abogado or the escribano (public notary).
  7. Escribano gathes all documents necessary for the transfer of property – copy of title, tax receipts, blueprints – and researches the history of the property going back 30 years. Especially important so there are no hidden claims or legal issues.
  8. Verify all documents with the appropriate public offices and request certificates going back 30 years from all previous owners and the land-surveying office.
  9. All parties (seller, buyer, realtor) meet with the escribano and the documents are registered at the property registry.
  10. The Riviera of Uruguay - Punta del Este

  11. In the following 30 days the escribano writes the deed, pays any taxes and registers the deed at the registrar’s office where it will be authorized and granted
  12. Make payment as specified.
  13. Research available options and buy home owners insurance.

Who Pays the Fees?

Buyer – responsible for 9 percent of the realtor, escribano and any other accrued fees.
Seller – responsible for the other 5 percent out of a total of 14 percent.

Note: Value added tax (VAT) does not apply to the transfer of real property in Uruguay.

Auctions in Uruguay – How to Buy Property Through an Auction (coming soon)

Enjoy your new home and adventure in Uruguay! Need more information to help you adjust to life in Uruguay? Click here to view our FREE online Living in Uruguay Guide.

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