* GUESTS THAT RENTED PROPERTIES WITH US
* CONSULTING CLIENTS ON REAL ESTATE PURCHASE AND/OR SALE
A. Colesberry - USA
My wife and I visited Buenos for two weeks in January 2007. After a few days sightseeing, we fell in love with the city and, as we often do when we come across a beautiful place, we started daydreaming about having a place there. In most cases, our fantasy dissolves in the thousand questions about how it’s done and who you can trust and whether you’ll make any money and on and on. By chance, during our stay a friend sent us a New York Times travel article where the writer had rented an apartment from ApartmentsBA. With the idea that here might be a service to get in bed with, we logged on to Michael’s site and started reading.
Impressed by his transparency and business philosophy, we set up a meeting with him for the day before our flight back to the US. We put down our consulting fee for the initial consultation and he asked what questions we had--we didn’t have many after reading his thorough website but he clarified a couple of things about the process and discussed neighborhoods with us. There was no selling at this meeting, just more of the straight talk that he put on his site.
When we got back to the States, we continued to correspond with Michael via email. He was very generous with his answers to our questions and our concerns about the process—and we hadn’t yet paid the balance of his consulting fee. Within a week, he sent us the first prospect that matched our criteria and at that point we quickly wired him the rest of the consulting fee plus an amount for the reserva (initial offer).
Here’s where Michael’s true colors showed the brightest—when that prospect went away, he wrote back offering to return what we’d just wired him.
Our first reaction to Michael’s consulting fee had been a worry that this guy we didn’t know might just be out to collect fees and wouldn’t come through, but if we had a shadow of a doubt left, his offer to return our money wiped that away. Michael wasn’t interested in our fee. He was in it for the long haul.
He continued to send us prospects for another month, at which time, one came through that seemed absolutely perfect. Being totally transparent about his process, he sent an email to five consulting clients, ourselves included, announcing the apartment’s availability. He explained that he’d see the place on Friday, take more pictures and determine whether it was a good property for his management company. Once his inspection was complete, he would give his opinion to the group and the first person to email back would be the person he would represent for the property purchase.
By chance, we were up late that evening and, after an hour-long, intense conversation, we emailed that we wanted the place. We were first and later we were told 3 other clients all emailed the following day all wanting to purchase the same property. We beat them by a few hours.
Over the next two weeks, we had some paperwork to deal with:
- Power of attorney for Mike to purchase the property on our behalf. We needed to have these notarized, have the notary certified and then have an international Hague Convention Apostile seal put on the signature pages. Then we had to FedEx the entire package to Argentina. All told, this cost just under $200.
- Mike needed scans of our passports and financial data (mainly, as I understand, to satisfy US Homeland Security laws as well as Argentina anti-money laundering laws established).
Michael stayed in the loop, making sure that we were getting our questions answered and that all things were moving forward. He also handled the final negotiations with the seller. He also handled getting our tax ID numbers (CDI #) for Argentina which is required to buy real estate.
It was very nerve-racking putting this much trust in someone in a foreign country. My wife and I had a long talk. I reread a lot of the information on his website. Finally, we came to the conclusion that either Michael was entirely trustworthy or he was running a scam on the level of Enron. We wired the money.
Michael arranged to go straight to the closing since the property was ready to purchase. We had expected to have a month to liquidate the rest of our funds. Thinking that two weeks might not be enough, we asked Michael to get us some extra time, which he did. We wired the money to our bank account that he helped us set up in Argentina and the entire purchase was finished two weeks later. Michael handled the entire purchase process with us in the USA.
We went back and forth about whether to pay Michael’s furniture and remodeling fee. We had a designer friend in Buenos Aires who had offered to help, but realizing that there would be challenges, we decided at first to pay the fee. Then days later, after we’d already wired the money, we changed our minds and decided to use our friend instead. Michael wired our money back immediately.
Our friend got started decorating and a month and a half later, we went down to Buenos Aires ourselves to do the final decorations ourselves. We had a great time and I wouldn’t have done it differently knowing what I know now, but let me say that we paid twice as much for our decorator as we would have for Michael’s furniture and remodeling fee.
Much of our labor budget went towards paying someone to wait at the apartment for the cable company to come, for instance. I cannot imagine that Michael makes a penny off his furniture coordination fee.
The happy ending is that, a couple of weeks after Michael listed it, our apartment started renting. If it keeps up like this, we’ll be getting full payback within 10 years.
I cannot recommend Michael and his company more enthusiastically.
Mark Mills - Bariloche, Argentina
I first contacted Michael Koh back in 2005, from the middle of the paddy fields while working in southern Taiwan. That day completely changed my life forever.
I was always fascinated with Michael's website [which he owned at the time] apartmentsba.com and would look at it on a daily basis. All of the units were incredible and fully booked. It was obvious they were making great returns so I decided to buy one for myself. I spoke with Mike on the phone and immediately hired him to find the right property.
A few weeks later he found a great loft in Recoleta and told me it would make a unique rental, he couldn’t guarantee the number of nights it would rent but estimated at least 15 to 20 days per month. I trusted his judgment and flew out to Buenos Aires a few weeks later to see the apartment and close the deal.
3 months later after an extensive renovation, which I also hired Mike to do as well as hiring him to furnish it… it turned out to be a perfect luxury rental. Mike had it booked 20+ nights a month. I was now keen to start my own apartment rental business but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it so I emailed Mike about his franchise opportunities.
I researched every city in South America trying to decide which one would work best, originally I had my eye on Sao Paulo, Brazil, but I speak Spanish and love Argentina so really I preferred to be there. I wasn't sure how to start an apartment rental business, but Mike assured me that he would teach me step by step everything I needed to know about building a successful company.
Mike was spot on about my apartment purchase in Buenos Aires so I trusted him 100% and decided to buy the ApartmentsBariloche.com franchise. I quit my job in the middle of the rice fields of Taiwan and never looked back.
Mike told me it would be a lot of hard work to build the company, but in the end it would pay off. He was right yet again. The first 3 years it took 16 hour days, 7 days a week to build the business into the success it is today, exactly as Mike told me it would back in 2006 if I followed his advice and built it up properly from day one. The time frame and estimated growth he predicted was exactly as he explained and outlined in my first meeting with him so many years ago.
Mike is without a doubt the most professional and hardest working businessman I have ever met. For more than 4 years I have been honored to have Michael as my mentor. He has guided me into building a successful and profitable business and has completely changed my life. My entrepreneurial journey would not have been as successful as it has been if it weren't for Mike in my life. He showed me that I could become whatever I wanted to and he has devoted a lot of his time and energy over the past 4 years to help me achieve my goals.
I am now building my 2nd luxury apartment and villa rental company in Colombia. I would never have been able to build new businesses if it wasn’t for Michael Koh. He taught me everything I know about the luxury rental business and how to build a solid company. I credit my success to him. Michael is without any doubt by far the best in the luxury apartment rental business anywhere in South America. I can highly recommend him.
Janet & Roger
We enjoyed our stay in Buenos Aires, as always. The apartment - A2 was wonderful, albeit a first night of frustration not knowing whether or not we would have to move the next day. Since we live in a house that is 100 years old, we understand how things can happen unexpectedly. Fortunately, the water pipe in the apartment above was able to be repaired the next day and we were able to stay put in A2. You were very kind to be considerate and refund the first night's stay. We appreciate your thoughtfulness.
The apartment was lovely, especially the kitchen, it had everything we could wish for to make our stay enjoyable. Never have we had a rental in any country so completely equipped. We loved having that wonderful grocery store just around the corner.
We will be returning next year, I am sure. Hope we will be able to stay in this same apartment again.
Thank you for all of your help. Your staff is very well trained and always polite. We are already thinking about our next trip to B.A. We love your city! (Sent in October 2009)
Lawrence B. - Houston, Texas USA
I was one of Mike’s very first consulting clients. Buying property in a foreign country is a scary process and Mike helped make it an easy process. No matter where you are real-estate is a major purchase. It is not something I do every day. When I was buying my home in the USA I used realtors and lawyers that my friends used and recommended. It is a major event and something to be taken seriously.
I first met Mike in Buenos Aires in 2002. I was surprised to hear that he was testing the waters of real-estate in Buenos Aires. At first I thought it was foolish but after a couple of years I realized he was on to something. For Mike, this was not a whim. He took his time learning about the business, made a solid business plan and followed through with it for a few years.
Although he was a senior level executive in the USA, he took the time to put together a business plan, research and build relationships for a few years before deciding to move down there permanently. When he told me he was moving down there and what he was going to do I was very surprised. He quit his job, sold his house and cars, and threw himself into the business. I know Mike loves Argentina and is a place he has wanted to call home for a long time. If I were not convinced about his commitment to staying there and the soundness of his business plan I would probably not have purchased property there.
I felt comfortable dealing with Mike because we have known each other for several years. Also, I watched firsthand what he was doing. He has purchased several properties himself with his own funds and I saw what kind of results he was getting and was impressed.
When I first seriously started thinking about buying down there I wanted an apartment that I would like to live in. Mike’s advice was practical and focused. What do you want to do with the apartment? Do you want to live in it or do you want to make money renting it to other people? Simple practical advice that helps refocus on the purpose.
Like everything else in business, you need a plan and a target audience. If I were moving to Buenos Aires I would get something bigger and more expensive. However, if I am going there for a short time I want something bright, modern, comfortable, close to the heart of things, with the comforts of home, and hotel. And that will provide a good return on investment.
I purchased an apartment in the same building where he owns an apartment. Mike negotiated the purchase without a realtor saving me 4% of the purchase price. He introduced me to an honest, English speaking attorney that was very easy to work with. Mike handled the entire negotiation and purchase process including the down payment and money transfer process once the final title deed transfer took place.
Mortgages are rare in Argentina even for Argentineans so for foreigners it is a cash deal. I don’t know why but the banks are funny in Argentina, If I wire money to a bank from the US, they charge me a % to get US$ out. It is not a small amount. It can be over 5%.
I personally don’t feel comfortable losing that much in a transfer but I also don’t feel good about carrying 250K in my carryon luggage. Mike showed me the cheapest way to get money into Argentina. There are banks that specialize in getting cash from wire transfers, they charge about 1.5% to 2.5%. To do this you need an account with them. Mike has had at least u$s 250,000 of my money in cash as I purchased two apartments. Who else do you know in South America that you could trust with that amount of money? I knew I could trust him and I knew I could trust him to manage my property once it was ready.
Mike handled the entire furnishing of the apartment including meeting with architects to make special custom made furniture, getting it furnished with electronics and getting it painted. Immediately upon the completion of the apartment he had it marketed and rented starting the first day after it was ready to rent. My apartment has been booked solid since the first day he started managing it.
I was so thrilled with my investment; I decided to purchase another apartment. Mike selected another property that I decided to have completely remodeled. Mike oversaw the renovation process and I was happy that this apartment was also rented immediately after the completion of the renovations.
I am happy with my real estate purchases in Argentina. I couldn’t have done it without Mike’s help and guidance. The people he referred me to from the real estate lawyer, to the money transfer firm to all the contractors including the electricians, architects and painters have been great to work with and fair with their pricing.
The only real downside I have seen is that I have spent more money than I originally planned. The peso is stronger now than it was a year ago. Property values are going up though so my property is worth more. I also changed my mind on the level of quality I wanted to use. I use to stay in hotels when I visited down there. Today Buenos Aires is getting expensive with lodging in hotels. I also wanted to see what the apartments were like. I have stayed in mid range and higher end apartments. I came to the conclusion that I like comfort and nice things and I am willing to spend a little more for them. I also think people who are like me are less likely to damage my apartment and furnishings. So I have spent more to make my apartments more luxurious to target people who are willing to spend more for quality.
Mike is always available to answer any questions I have whether I call him or email him. He always has responded the same day (usually within an hour). He is one of the most trustworthy people I know. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing real estate in Argentina without his guidance or someone else you know and trust doing the same thing down there.
Umberto Ciccolella - USA
Mike - We would like to thank you so much for all that you have done and continue to do to help us with our move from Mexico to Buenos Aires. Your consulting services have been so valuable to us. Your entire staff is very knowledgeable as well as always very helpful and pleasant to work with.
You were critical in negotiating the purchase of our apartment and obtaining the best price possible. In addition, all of the services, vendors and contractors you have recommended have been wonderful to work with as well as honest and reliable.
Again, thank you so much and we will highly recommend your company to anyone thinking of moving to Buenos Aires or investing here.
----- My firm was also retained by Umberto to sell the property. We successfully sold his property without any problems whatsoever.
Andrew J. Marquez - USA
I just want to tell you that I think Mariana is such a gem and a great asset to your organization! I have rented with your company 5 times now and EVERYONE there is exceptional, but my first contact is always with Mariana and she is definitely great at finding me exactly what I need for my trip. She is very quick to respond, helpful in getting all the details to me and very, very nice to deal with! I have nothing but good things to say about your company in general, but you do have one very special employee, Mariana, who, as my first contact makes me feel like I’m being welcomed back and I’m sure that’s the reason I haven’t looked at any other hotels or rentals in BA since I first contacted Mariana years ago. Once I’ve communicated with her, I feel certain that I will get what I need and often more than I expected!
Thanks for reading this. It’s a joy to deal with your people there and I have never been disappointed in anyone…nor any of the apartments! I really can’t say that about many companies I’ve dealt with over the years, so please keep it up!
One very loyal customer,
Andrew J. Marquez
(Sent in May 2009)
Chris & Linda Slaughter - Dallas, TX USA
Mike – We just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our stay in Buenos Aires. Thank you and your team for making it work so well. We loved the apartment (A28). It was wonderful and better than expected and the location was just perfect. It’s always sort of iffy and scary doing things like this long distance, but everything exceeded expectations. Thanks for making our rather spontaneous trip so terrific!!
Fields Marshall - USA
I found Michael through his webpage in June 2005. At the time, I was considering investing in property in Buenos Aires but I didn’t have any definite ideas on how to proceed. Having never even bought a property in the US, I had many apprehensions about purchasing a house abroad. Needless to say, I was very glad to find Michael through his webpage. Not only did he seem to be just the person I was looking for but he had a solid business plan and a way for me to rent my apartment.
I love Argentina and Argentine people but Argentines have a different way of doing business and negotiating deals. I wanted to deal with someone with whom I could relate to and understand from my own background in the USA, someone who could give me correct and honest information about buying property in Buenos Aires. Most importantly, someone whom I could trust and that was looking out for my best interest.
Michael has been great in all these regards. Michael found a great property for me and negotiated the purchase while I was overseas in Italy. I also hired Michael to renovate my property and furnish it and it turned out fantastic. He managed my apartment for several year and years later I hired him to sell the property. He helped me sell the property and it was a smooth process with Michael's assistance.
I would gladly recommend his services to anyone buying property here in Argentina. I have seen firsthand other property purchases without his services and can say that it is very worth your money to hire him to make sure you avoid the many, many pitfalls of buying property in Argentina.
Feel free to contact me with questions.
Richard Davella - New York City, USA
In 1997, my dear friend Gloria after thirty years of working and living in Manhattan retired and moved to her country of origin Argentina. She came back to Manhattan once a year to visit and we would get together for dinner. She always talked about Buenos Aires and invited me to come to visit. I finally decided to take her up on her offer three years ago. From the very first time I visited her in Buenos Aires, I fell in love with the city.
The people are friendly, the food is wonderful and the architecture reminded me of Paris, and last but not least the prices were amazingly affordable. I felt as if I were wealthy. I did not have to check menu prices! Even the most expensive restaurants such as the Alvear Palace Hotel were in my budget.
For my second trip to Buenos Aires my partner and I decided to take a complete package tour which included a tourist grade hotel and air fare. The price was right but the hotel room was a major disappointment. During that trip, I met an American tourist who told me that they had a temporary apartment rental in the city. I took down the information and booked with them on my third trip. The apartment was a great alternative to a hotel. I got the idea to buy an apartment and rent it out when I wasn’t using it.
I looked around a good bit and found a beautiful apartment with a lot of potential so I hired my friend Gloria’s lawyer and started the real estate buying procedure. The biggest problem I had was that I don’t understand Spanish and the lawyer did not speak English. It was getting very complicated quickly and I did not have a clue to what was going on. I was becoming more anxious every day.
I heard about Mike and decided to give him a call. Michael took the time over the telephone to explain all of the different things that could go wrong if you did not have a good lawyer that you can fully communicate with (which I could not at all with the attorney that I started out with) so I decided to hire Mke as a real estate consultant for his obvious expertise with the real estate buying process in Buenos Aires. Although I was using my friend's lawyer I thought it was a good idea to use Mike as a sort of insurance. Thank God for that day!! I did not know how close I was to a total disaster situation.
Mike reviewed all the paperwork from the previous lawyer and he found many flaws from the beginning. I switched to the lawyer that Michael recommended that spoke fluent English. The new lawyer got involved but had more work than he bargained for. As it turned out, the original lawyer made many mistakes while preparing the documents for the purchase/sale of the apartment I was buying. He had overlooked the fact that there was a lien on the apartment and the apartment and the apartment # on the deed did not even match the actual apartment I was buying.
For all I know, I could have been buying a storage room in the basement. It was a huge mess! I began to get discouraged and felt that this property was never going to be mine. Mike told me to be patient and that his lawyer was the best real estate attorney in Argentina so if anyone could fix the problems, his attorney could. In time, Mike proved to be exactly correct.
I honestly don’t know what I would have done or how badly things could have gone if I didn’t get involved with Mike. Mike is a very honest, professional and dedicated person. He always answered emails immediately, even after midnight and when we was on vacation. When it was time to close I wired the money for the closing to him and he held it for me for two weeks until I arrived in BA to close on the property. There are not too many people that I would have done something like that and trusted.
I was quite pleased with how things unfolded. I hired Mike and his team to oversee renovations on my apartment while I am in New York. The renovation turned out beautifully and Mike's company has managed my apartment for several years. If you are contemplating buying real estate in Buenos Aires or even just interested in renting a luxury apartment for a vacation or business trip, I highly recommend Mike and his company. You will be happy that you used their company. I know I was. Thanks Mike!
Jason Diamond & Kay Goodman
Team - I wanted to thank you and everyone at your company for an incredible, friendly, and smooth experience renting your apartment . It was secure, clean, everything was in great condition, it was in a great location, and the view was spectacular. I will send you some pictures of the sunset from the balcony...as soon as I get the camera back. :-) We had a great experience with your property and everyone we encountered in the experience of working with you.
Best of luck, we will be recommending you to our friends.
(Follow Up Comment - Mike, thanks so much for taking the time to send our camera back to us. We got it today and really appreciate you shipping it back to us.).
J. Shields - Texas, USA
I have the utmost confidence and respect in Michael Koh and his colleagues based on my extensive dealings with them over the last few years.
I became aware of Michael Koh and his firm several years ago when I was exploring the possibility of renting an apartment rather than staying in a hotel during a planned leisure trip to Buenos Aires in early 2006. I ended up renting two different apartments from him in 2006, both of which were located in the Recoleta neighborhood, and both of which were every bit as good as had been advertised on the Company’s website. I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of “living” in an apartment during my visit to Buenos Aires, rather than merely being a guest at one of the city’s hotels.
Although I had been to Buenos Aires several times prior to 2006, during that visit, I fell in love with the city and decided I wanted to explore the possibility of owning an apartment in the same Recoleta neighborhood in which I had previously rented. Michael Koh referred me to an english-speaking realtor with one of Buenos Aires’ best realty agencies, and then visited with me, and helped me evaluate for investment/ownership potential, the two apartments in which I had the most interest. Michael also referred me to an excellent Argentine real estate attorney who drew the paperwork necessary to submit a proper offer to buy.
Because of certain dishonest actions taken by the sellers’ representatives, I did not end up buying the apartment on which I made a bid in 2006. Sadly, this type of experience is apparently not a rare occurrence in real estate transactions in Argentina, and only serves to underscore the importance of an “outsider” finding someone who can represent his or her interests in any proposed real estate or business transaction in Argentina who is honest, competent and “knows the ropes” regarding how business is transacted in Argentina.
Michael Koh was that person for me, and he quickly obtained a return of my deposit monies on the 2006 transaction despite the sellers’ realtors’ initial resistance.
My experience with Michael Koh in 2006 caused me to have complete trust in his integrity, his ethics and his competence. In fact, my trust in Michael was so great that in 2007 I relied almost exclusively on Michael’s personal inspection in purchasing an expensive apartment in the Recoleta neighborhood that I was unable to inspect myself, and had only “seen” in pictures posted on the realtors’ internet website.
Michael lined up the engineers/inspectors, the lawyers and the other professionals and advisers who helped me evaluate this property, and help me consummate the purchase transaction. After the transaction closed, Michael referred me to several excellent architects who I interviewed for the job of overseeing renovations to the apartment, which is in a lovely “French” building in a very nice part of the Recoleta.
I could go on and on in praise of Michael Koh and his colleagues. Suffice it to say, however, that Michael is completely honest, highly competent and charges very reasonable fees for his services. Michael is always completely professional and is a pleasure to work with. He answers every email inquiry promptly, and is a storehouse of information and wise counsel on foreign investment in Argentina.
Michael’s advice and assistance, and that of his colleagues, in this area have made it possible for me to own an apartment thousands of miles from my principal residence without having to deal personally with the day-to-day worries of home ownership.
I would not have been willing to pursue the idea of owning a second residence in Buenos Aires if I had not had full confidence in Michael Koh and his colleagues’ ability to represent my interests in Argentina in an honest and competent manner. I have been completely satisfied with every aspect of my relationship with Michael Koh and his firm, and would strongly recommend that any acquaintance of mine who desires to pursue the idea of owning property in Buenos Aires retain the assistance of Michael Koh in doing so.
--------- Mr. Shields also retained our firm to sell his property which we were successful doing. The closing went smoothly and all funds were remitted to his USA bank account.
Dave Wiggins - California, USA
I was a new property owner in Buenos Aires and have used the services of Michael to obtain and remodel my property. I have worked with Michael since November 2004. I was always in love with Buenos Aires and am nearing retirement; thus I saw a need to find a suitable place in BA that I could occupy part time and lease the other times. Buenos Aires is a living/breathing city where people for the most part work where they live. It is so very different from the North American existence of driving between the house and a variety of parking lots to carry on with one’s day-to-day necessities. Plus, the city is very historical and is replete with beautiful architecture. The residents of Buenos Aires, the Porteños, live their lives with dignity and love of life.
So, I found Michael through the internet and started a dialog with him about my hopes for owning an apartment in Buenos Aires. Michael was my full-service consultant through every stage of the project, including brainstorming the type of place that was suitable (matching it to my interests and life style), doing reality tests with me as the individual about what I wanted for myself versus what was available, placing offers on properties, obtaining legal representation, designing a renovation and securing a reputable architect, interfacing with the architect and crews during the construction phase, furnishing and outfitting the apartment with amenities, dealing with a recalcitrant neighbor, marketing the property on the internet and securing clients to rent the apartment, setting a fair price, and maintaining records. This was all done with me in the San Francisco Bay Area and Michael managing all processes for me and communicating daily on developments.
Without exception, Michael hires only the most reputable consultants (lawyers, architects, etc) that are available, and cultivates positive relationships with those consultants that he values. Everyone associated with the development of my project had the highest standards for integrity and customer focus thanks to the selection process that Michael consistently employed. Michael’s policy is to exclude from his projects, and insulate his clients from, any businesses and individuals who do not uphold his standards, and it has paid off in a real way in the case of my project. I think Michael is motivated by a desire to build relationships with only the more responsible clients/owners and service providers (real estate agents, lawyers, contractors, etc). He develops these long-term, relationships to keep his business running smoothly over the long haul, and does not sacrifice the interests of his clientele for short-term gain.