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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Land prices increase dramatically in Erbil

Although reliable figures and statistics are scarce, some say Iraqi Arabs from the central and southern parts of the country are buying many properties in the Kurdistan Region's cities, especially in 

Erbil. This has increased real estate prices in the Region.

A child passes by resident apartments built in Erbil.

Previously, Iraqis from outside the Kurdistan Region were not permitted to own property in the Region. This restriction was lifted recently, and all Iraqis can now own properties in Kurdistan. The demand for properties has risen among Arab Iraqis. 

Mawlawi Jabbar, head of the Kurdistan Region's General Tourism Team, said that during the Eid al-Fitir holiday at the end of August and early September, more than 143,000 Arab tourists from southern and central provinces of Iraq visited various parts of Kurdistan Region. This led to more activity in the Region's markets, and especially in the real estate sector. 

According to many real estate agents, Arabs value the high level of security and stability in Kurdistan Region and use their capital to invest in the safest and most secure part of the country. 
Khasro Saeed, manager of Second Land Registry Office in Erbil, says the law grants equal rights to all Iraqis to own properties in Kurdistan. 

"According to the law, there is no barrier for Arabs to purchase land and buildings," explained Saeed in an interview with The Kurdish Globe. "The only requirement is that they have the required documentation and proper security permissions and clearance from the Kurdistan Regional Government's Security Department [Asayish]." 

Unconfirmed reports suggest agents processing the paperwork for property registration for Arab buyers charge around $3,000 to $4,000. 

"The Arab buyer only visits the property registration office to give a fingerprint, and a processor takes care of everything else," said a lawyer, on the condition of anonymity. The lawyer said he has several applications to process for Arab clients. 

According to Sarbaz Khoshnaw, who owns a real estate agency in Erbil, the number of registrations is significantly higher two months ago. 

"Land prices in Blocks 5 and 7 in Hasarok Quarter have increased by about $14,000 in the past two months," explained Khoshnaw, whose office is on the Erbil, in the Kasnazan Highway area. He said Sebardan land has increased by $7,000 and land in Hawleri Nwe have increased by $20,000. 

Khoshnaw said that despite the huge price increases, people still prefer to invest their savings in real estate rather than other things. 

Karzan Azad, an Erbil resident, said Arabs have bought many units in the large residential housing projects. "For example, in our neighbourhood of 20 households in Ayinda City, five of them are Arab households," Azad said. 

Although Kurdistan has a housing problem, plans have not helped solve the issue and may be a factor in increasing property prices.. 

Herish Muharram, chairman of Kurdistan Region's Board of Investment, says it decided not to grant licenses to projects on 25,000 acres of land or more, and will only grant license for denser housing, such as multi-story apartment buildings. 

According to information from property agents, prices in neighbourhoods outside the 100 meter ring road in Erbil range from $200 to $3,000 per square meter.

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