Realty prices unmoved
Fewer sale transactions in 2012
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Reports that Gulf nationals have been selling their properties in Lebanon for low prices are unfounded, according to Massaad Fares, Chairman of the Real Estate Association in Lebanon (R.E.A.L). Though there have been a few individual cases where foreigners sold some of their properties, he said, “brokers and real estate developers have not spotted any unusual phenomena” in terms of extensive selling by foreigners.

The value of real estate transactions grew to $9.1 billion in 2012, up by four percent from 2011. The number of real estate transactions dropped by ten percent to 74,569. According to Fares, the number of transactions does not indicate the actual number of new sales: “Most of the increase was from real estate registrations by owners who anticipated the government’s expected decision to raise taxes on property sales.” He said that the deceleration is due to the current local and regional political situation in addition to the global economic slowdown.

Michael Dunn, owner of the real estate consultancy firm Michael Dunn & Co., said: “This has been a very quiet year, during which the sector posted a flat growth.”
The number of construction permits, which indicate the level of future supply in real estate, reached some 18,194, down by less than one percent year-on-year. The volume of licensed square meters (sqm) dropped by 11 percent year-on-year to 14.6 million sqm.

According to Fares, the realty market will pick up growth starting this spring. Dunn said demand for small- to medium-sized apartments and for offices will continue to grow throughout 2013.

Mount Lebanon had the lion’s share of licensed square meters with 7.3 million sqm, followed by North Lebanon (2.5 million sqm), South Lebanon (1.5 million sqm), the Bekaa (1.3 million sqm), Beirut (1 million sqm), and Nabatieh (926,000 sqm).

According to Dunn, property prices will not fall. “Rental fees and selling prices are expected to stay stable, and then climb,” he said.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
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Date Posted: Jan 23, 2013