Despite economic crisis, hike in real estate prices in Raqqa

A Syrian student on his way to school passing through war-damaged buildings in the northeastern city of Raqqa - 23 September 2021 (AFP)

A Syrian student on his way to school passing through war-damaged buildings in the northeastern city of Raqqa - 23 September 2021 (AFP)

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Raqqa – Hussam al-Omar

Mahmoud al-Hashem, 47, browses his notebook in which he recorded the details and addresses of real estate offered to him for sale in the northeastern city of Raqqa.

Al-Hashem, who runs a real estate office, wanted to convince one of the property owners that the required amounts of these real estates do not match his purchasing budget.

The real estate seller believes that the required prices are never compatible with the living and security situation in his city.

The prices witnessed an unprecedented hike, which some real estate men described to Enab Baladi as “unreasonable” as most of what was offered for sale was in US dollars.

Different prices

Al-Hashem told Enab Baladi that he often tries to persuade real estate owners to reduce their price in order to catch the opportunity to sell it at a reasonable time and price.

At the same time, it gives him the opportunity to take the agreed commission from both parties, the seller and the buyer.

Abdulhalim al-Rajab, 37, who works in a cellphone repair shop, has tried with a budget of 14,000 US dollars to buy an apartment in one of the city’s neighborhoods near his work on al-Wadi Street in the city center, but he failed.

For that, al-Rajab was forced to buy a house in the slum Intifada neighborhood. The house consists of two rooms and utilities, with a total area of ​​125 m².

Real estate prices, especially apartments, vary between one neighborhood and another in Raqqa, bringing the price of some apartments with an area of ​​200 m² to between 40,000 and 60,000 US dollars in neighborhoods such as al-Thakana and al-Firdous, while the price of the apartment ranges between 20,000 and 35,000 US dollars in neighborhoods such as the al-Qetar district and the al-Nour and al-Edekhar street.

Prices drop below that in other neighborhoods of the city, depending on the location of the property and its condition.

For some apartments that suffer partial damage or are still not equipped, it will be sold as it is, then it will be repaired or equipped at the buyer’s expense.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and the Raqqa Civil Council have controlled Raqqa since the end of 2017 following the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group.

The city’s population exceeds 800,000 people, most of whom live in difficult living conditions due to the conflict that the city has experienced and the economic conditions that it shares with most Syrian cities.

No official role, no law

None of the Raqqa Civil Council or the “Autonomous Administration” institutions is concerned with monitoring the real estate market and its prices, according to a member of the Raqqa Economic Committee.

The official, who spoke to Enab Baladi on condition of anonymity since he is not authorized to speak to the media, believes that the “Administration” and through all its institutions do not have any authority to interfere in the real estate market and its prices, due to the absence of a law or legislation with it or its affiliated institutions in this regard.

Some Raqqa residents have created accounts on social media platforms interested in buying and selling real estate, and their goal is to bring the seller closer to the buyer, and to create a kind of competition between real estate owners, according to what Zain al-Din al-Hassan, one of the supervisors of these groups, told Enab Baladi.

Al-Hassan, 35, added that the prices on social media groups and platforms are as close to reality as possible, but they are still high and are not commensurate with the residents’ purchasing ability.

Real estate is one of the needs that have the most impact on people’s destinies, as it exposes the political and economic nature of the ruling authority in a particular region.

Raqqa, like other Syrian cities, suffers from the destruction of a large number of buildings, including the houses that have been bombed during the conflict since 2011. It is also suffering from stagnation in the reconstruction process.

According to the report of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) issued in March 2019, there are 3,326 buildings in Raqqa governorate that were completely destroyed, 3,962 buildings were severely damaged, and 5,493 partially destroyed, bringing the total of damaged buildings to 12,781.

During 2017, Raqqa witnessed a 166-day battle between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Islamic State, which lasted for 166 days, and ended with the control of the SDF over the city in mid-October of the same year. Those battles resulted in the destruction of some buildings in the city, either partially or completely.

Airplanes and rocket launchers were used in the battles inside the city’s neighborhoods, and it played a major role in destroying buildings, in addition to the explosions that resulted from mines left behind by the IS group.

 

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