By John Lee.

Housing prices in Iraqi Kurdistan have reportedly increased by 20 percent in 2018, while rents has gone up by 15 percent.

Citing research from real estate company Baghi Khoshnawati, Rudaw says that demand for rental accommodation in the second half of 2018 has increased by 45 percent compared to the first half of 2018.

It adds that the rent for a house in the Italian Village in Erbil has increased from was $500 per month in May 2018 to $650 now, but “there are no houses available because of high demand“.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

(Picture credit: Jan Kurdistani21)

By John Lee.

Zawya reports that the Iraqi cabinet has asked the National Investment Commission (NIC) to go ahead with the huge Al-Rashid City project planned for Baghdad.

The $10-billion development is to be carried out by Dubai’s Emaar Properties and Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills, and will include the building of “up to” (sic) 64,000 new homes, has previously been estimated by Iraqi officials to have an investment value of about $10 billion.

Emaar Properties told Thomson Reuters that it will make appropriate disclosures when the agreements are finalised.

(Source: Zawya)

(Picture: Construction at Bismaya New City)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Anbar Families Seeking Safety Sell Homes At Half Price, Fuelling Real Estate Boom

If there is one winner in the province of Anbar right now, it may well be those dealing in real estate. Families who have returned want to leave again, and are selling property at half price to be able to do so.

Ramadi local, Omar al-Hamdani, 48, says he never thought he would live anywhere else but his hometown. But things are becoming impossible.

“Working hours and transport is determined by the military leaders here, using security plans that often don’t appear to be very well organised,” he told NIQASH. “Sometimes one of the security teams at one of the checkpoints blocks a whole neighbourhood from going to work, using the excuse that there are security breaches that threaten the population,” he complains.

Security procedures in Ramadi are complex and time consuming and his family are only too well aware that there is still significant threat of extremist attacks. Additionally, al-Hamdani says, health care facilities are non-existent nor is schooling. On top of this, a business he had founded while out of Anbar was doing well and would support him in the semi-autonomous and far more secure northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

So he’s relocating. To move though, al-Hamdani has had to sell his house, a large property in a good central neighbourhood.

“In the past my house was valued at about IQD250 million [about US$208,000] but I sold it for IQD150 million. I know this is a low price but I didn’t hesitate,” al-Hamdani explains. “I wanted to stop paying anything toward the house – the payments were a terrible burden on us while we were displaced – and now I just want a safe, secure life for my family away from ideological conflicts or any threat of further displacement.”

While selling property at such a low price means a loss for the sellers, it is proving to be an opportunity for the buyers.

By John Lee.

Following a visit by the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım (pictured) to Iraq last week, an Iraqi business delegation has come to Turkey and proposed a $200-million construction project in Baghdad to Turkish businessmen.

Tevfik Öz, a member of the board of the Turkish-Iraqi Business Council, told Daily Sabah that the Iraqi delegation proposed the construction of a $200 million real estate project in the so-called “Green Zone” in Baghdad, adding that another Turkish delegation may visit Iraq in the coming days.

Turkey’s exports to Iraq have fallen from $14 billion to $7 billion.

(Source: Daily Sabah)

By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

When the Iraqi Commission of Integrity Court entered a default judgment Oct. 16 against the head of the Karbala Real Estate Registration Directorate, ordering her imprisonment for tampering with citizens’ real estate records, it came not as a surprise but rather as a manifestation of a known underlying phenomenon.

This situation has been raising both popular and governmental concern, as it has spread to various regions, such as Babil, south of Baghdad, where a case of corruption was reported at the Real Estate Registration Directorate earlier this year.

In Baghdad, this phenomenon is even more pervasive, according to the parliamentary integrity commission’s annual report published March 3; this prompted an investigation into forged property deeds.

Several cases of illegal seizure of real estate properties were reported in Baghdad involving property dealers and employees from governmental bodies involved with real estate registration. Real estate owned by emigrants — especially Christians — has been the main target because of the owners’ long absence from the country.

In some areas of Baghdad where signs of this phenomenon have become noticeable, one is bound to come across houses with walls marked with writing saying things such as “confiscated,” “not for sale or purchase due to problems” and “house claimed by tribes.”

Capt. Ali Bahadeli of the Baghdad anti-corruption police told Al-Monitor, “Most of these incidents are deliberate and intended to force the owners to sell at a very cheap price, especially since they live abroad and it is not possible for them to learn about the details.”

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Kurdish Agree Arabs Can Own Real Estate, Sparking Controversy

Last week, the governor of Sulaymaniyah ruled that Arabs could own houses and land in the area. The new rule sparked controversy, protests and accusations of racism.

The 58-year-old Iraqi had visited the city of Sulaymaniyah, in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, many times before. The Baghdad local, who wished to be known only as Abu Salwan, really liked the city. In the past he has always returned to the Iraqi capital – but when he arrived here five years ago, he made a momentous decision: This time he wasn’t going back.

Like many others, Abu Salwan says that when he began to fear daily for the lives of his family and his own life in the Iraqi capital, Sulaymaniyah was the first place that came to mind, a place where he hoped he would find peace and a better life.

“I don’t believe there is a difference between the Kurds and the Arabs here,” Abu Salwan addresses the idea that there might be racism in the northern region, which has its own borders and laws and which has largely been protected from the security  crisis caused by the extremist group, the Islamic State. “I came here some time ago when security deteriorated in Baghdad and I settled here in Sulaymaniyah because the people here are kind hearted.”

This may be a slightly optimistic view. Even a quick look at local social media shows a slew of racist comments and anti-Arab arguments from Iraqi Kurdish users. One of the topics many of these anti-immigration individuals are talking about is a decision made by the governor of Sulaymaniyah, Aso Faraidoon Amin, less than a week ago.

By John Lee.

BasNews reports that the Islamic State group (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) is allegedly attempting to put residential buildings taken from civilians in Mosul on sale.

A source told the news agency that IS confiscated “more than 126” (sic) houses left by Kurds and Christians in Mosul, and is now selling the houses as the group is financially weakened.

A Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official said that IS has realised that they have no future in Mosul after the airstrikes have been intensified, and has started looting people’s belongings and properties before a planned move to Libya to establish a ‘State of Sirt’.

BasNews has learned that these properties previously were rented to displaced IS members, but they are now urged to leave the houses.

(Source: BasNews)

(Mosul image via Shutterstock)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

No Houses for the Arabs: Iraqi Kurdish Council’s Controversial Ruling About Who Can, and Cannot, Buy Property

Tensions between displaced Arabs in Iraqi Kurdistan and local Kurds are growing. Which is why some fear a recent council ruling that bans Arabs from owning real estate will just make things worse.

In an ordinary sitting late last month, the provincial council in Sulaymaniyah, a northern Iraqi province, made a decision that some locals thought was appalling but which others welcomed enthusiastically. The council decided that Iraqi Arabs would no longer be able to buy property in Sulaymaniyah, which is one of three provinces making up the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

In Sulaymaniyah the sale, transfer or purchase of property by non-Kurds is now banned. Of course, the new rule also applies to other foreigners. But clearly the main targets are the many Iraqi Arabs who have flooded into the more secure, semi-autonomous northern region due to the security crisis.

The council members justified their new rule by saying that so many Arabs have moved into the area, formerly dominated by Iraqis of Kurdish ethnicity, that the demography of the area was changing. Additionally the Arabs tended to be better off than many Kurdish people and they feared that Arabs would end up owning all of the property.

“Around 400,000 Arabs have come to the province and without some controls, the city’s demographic make up would have changed,” explains Haval Abubaker, the head of Sulaymaniyah’s council, justifying the decision. “What we have done is also completely constitutional because the Iraqi Constitution prohibits any development that could lead to demographic change in an area. We should also add that this decision is only temporary, and that it also targets other non-Kurdish individuals, not just Arabs.”

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This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Real Estate Wreckers: While Ordinary Basra Families Suffer, A New Upper Class Profits

Real estate prices in Basra are rising dramatically thanks to the oil industry, the province’s economic prowess and a growing population. Many locals say a new class of corrupt officials, smugglers and developers are profiting while ordinary families are forced to move out of town.

After ten years living in the same house, in the Bariha area of Basra, Ahmed Bader and his family of five were forced to leave their home. The landlord had increased the rent to US$1,600 monthly and Bader only earns IQD900,000 (around US$760) each month.

“We had no choice,” Bader says, “we were forced to move to an agricultural area in the Abu al-Khaseeb area outside of Basra, even though that’s a long way from my workplace.”

Bader is not the only local in Basra to be feeling the effects of rising real estate prices. Central areas in Basra are heavily populated and rents for ordinary houses here are as high as US$2,000 while it now costs around US$1 million to buy a 400 square meter property here. This is despite the fact that improvements to infrastructure in central Basra have not kept pace with real estate price rises.

The reason for such price hikes: Basra is one of the centres of Iraq’s burgeoning oil industry and, as local journalist Hashim Luaibi points out, the oil companies can afford to pay these higher rates to provide for their employees. Basra is also a prosperous area and currently, because of its Shiite Muslim-majority population, it is not as troubled as other parts of Iraq by violence caused by the Sunni Muslim extremist group, the Islamic State.

There’s been an influx of Iraqis from other parts of the country to Basra over the past few years but there’s nowhere for them to live, says a local lawyer, Tariq al-Abarsim.

“Displacement and population growth combined with the absence of any real housing projects have led to chaos in the housing sector,” al-Abarsim suggests.