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Analysis

In Kurdistan Region optimistic landowners bet on post-ISIS investments

By Chris Johannes 13/3/2017
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In Kurdistan Region optimistic landowners bet on post-ISIS investments
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The real estate market in the Kurdish capital is currently complicated — landowners paid high prices for property when the economy was booming prior to ISIS in 2014, now prices have dropped, but landowners are holding out hope that property values will rise after the threat of ISIS in Iraq continues to be diminished.

 

“If you have cash, and some people have piles of cash, you want to buy,” one real estate developer in Ainkawa told Rudaw English. “The land owners are optimistic that they can get a better price in the future.”

 

“The big foreign investors from places like Europe or the United States see a window of opportunity after Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS) is removed before they anticipate another Daesh coming.”

 

Especially in 2012 and 2013, the Kurdistan Region experienced an economic boom thanks to security, massive oil investment by global energy firms, and the return of people living in diaspora that had been spurned by the Baathist policies of Saddam Hussein.

 

Before ISIS the developer in Ankawa could sell 1 square-meter for $8,000, but now $3,000 is more realistic, even though Ankawa is typically seen as more expensive than parts of Erbil because it’s exclusive to Christians.

 

When ISIS took over large swaths of land in Iraq and were turned back from Erbil by Peshmerga forces in 2014, construction was halted as foreigners deemed the region too risky, so concrete skeletons of buildings litter the capital city.

 

However, the Kurdistan Region remains mostly secure and free of terrorism today thanks to Kurdish security and intelligence supported by their international partners, who have increased biometric security procedures and screen thoroughly.

 

ISIS maintains just pockets of resistance in Iraq, namely in western Mosul, Hawija, north of Baghdad in Salahaddin and Diyala provinces, and in Anbar province near the Syrian border.

 

ISIS has now lost over 60 percent of the territory once held in Iraq and is losing more every day… None of that territory has been retaken by ISIS, according to US officials.

 

So for now, Kurdistan’s real estate market is primed for buyers — that is if a potential buyer has the liquidity and stomach to risk investment.

 

A real estate agent in Erbil said the Setaqan district near Par Hospital is currently listed as the most expensive area in the city at a hefty $6,000 asking price for 1 square-meter.

 

The agent stated in a monthly report that property in Shorish by Maxi Mall is second-highest at around $4,000.

 

The famous food and tea shop district of Eskan has properties available for just more than $3,000, while 30 and 40 Meter Streets are just under $2,000 per square-meter, according to the report.

 

While listed prices tend to be higher than what a buyer would actually pay, the current prices are lower than they were during the economic boom.

 

The longer the Kurdistan Region remains stable, investors become more optimistic and prices in turn would be expected to rise, and foreign countries obviously see value in the region.

 

The United States has committed to building a new $600 million consulate general complex in Erbil.

 

In Kurdistan there are consulate generals from 21 nations, and 14 other various forms of national representations with more opening or planning to open nearly every month. Most recently Japan and Saudi Arabia opened consulates in Erbil.

 

While concerns exist about internal political instability, Kurdistan has successfully defended its territories against ISIS.

 

The next front for Kurds is economics, and the indication of optimism demonstrated by landowners is promising.

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