Lack of US currency sees Argentina activity freeze

Argentina's property market has frozen as the country struggles to get hold of US currency, according to new reports.

It may sound bizarre, but Argentina real estate transactions are always carried out in dollars – and new restrictions on the currency has seen activity reduce to near zero.

"The currency restrictions are totally paralyzing the sector, not just the property sector but private construction too," Nestor Walenten of the Argentine Real Estate Chamber told Reuters .

The dollar replaced the peso for major financial transactions in the 1980s, when the country's troubled economy presented the US dollar in a safer light. Since then, Argentine property buyers have stored dollars under the mattress or around the house, ready to purchase $100,000 apartments in the capital or up to $1 million luxury homes in the high-end areas with cold, hard cash.

With dollars increasingly unavailable due to government clamp-downs, the property market is set to slump, with sales dropping by 30 per cent in May compared to 2011.

Some sellers are considering accepting pesos for property, adds Reuters, but at the more expensive black-market rate. As a result, many are simply choosing to wait instead of buying real estate using the nation's own currency.