Syria quake will negatively affect real estate market: experts

People standing near a quake-destroyed building in northern Aleppo city - February 27, 2023 (AP)

People standing near a quake-destroyed building in northern Aleppo city - February 27, 2023 (AP)


Enab Baladi – Jana al-Issa

The Feb.6 devastating earthquake that hit southern Turkey and four Syrian governorates hiked the housing and shelter crisis that arose during the past years in most Syrian governorates, which will have an impact on the real estate market in the current and future term.

The high prices of building materials and their reaching unprecedented levels during the past years, in addition to the lack of purchasing power among residents in regime-controlled areas, led to a stagnation in the movement of the real estate market, accompanied by a large increase in supply that did not match the demand, for many reasons, most notably the desire to emigrate.

There are many indications that the real estate market in Syria was negatively affected by the earthquake, with no looming solutions to the current crisis.

The real estate market’s stagnation in previous years opens the door to questions about the components that make it able to meet the housing and shelter needs that resulted from the earthquake.

Psychological and engineering factors

In an opinion article published by al-Modon website at the end of last February, by the Syrian researcher Iyad al-Jaafari, he considered that, based on previous experiences in real estate markets in areas affected by natural disasters, especially earthquakes, demand for real estate usually decreases.

The decrease in demand is linked to psychological reasons related to the lack of confidence in the construction’s durability and its ability to protect the lives of its residents in the event of an earthquake, according to al-Jaafari.

Associate Professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, Dr. Joseph Daher, told Enab Baladi that the stagnation of the real estate market due to psychological factors can only be temporary, and after this period passes, the real estate market will return to being affected by the factors that affected it for years earlier.

Daher, a participant in the Wartime and Post-Conflict in Syria project (WPCS), explained that the situation of the real estate market in Syria has not changed or differed much from what it was before the earthquake disaster with regard to the activity of real estate purchases.

However, what will change is related to the activity of rents, whose values will rise, especially in the areas directly affected by the earthquake, Daher adds.

Firas Shaabo, a professor of finance and banking sciences, told Enab Baladi that if a methodology is followed in building buildings in the future according to earthquake standards, the real estate market will witness greater recession and stagnation as a result of the high costs of real estate and, consequently, the rise in prices affected by typical building standards.

Syria is a special case

According to the Aceable Agent website, which specializes in real estate education, there isn’t always a clear connection between natural disasters and the housing market’s response. You might think a natural disaster would drive housing prices down due to damaged buildings and the fear of a recurrence. But this isn’t always the case.

Real estate agents are heavily impacted by market changes resulting from natural disasters. A dip in property values could reduce a real estate agent’s income, while high demand in areas adjacent to a disaster zone could mean an influx of buyers.

There are several factors that determine the real estate market’s reaction to a natural disaster, according to Aceable Agent: the extent of the damage, localization of the damage, demand for the location, and insurance policies and practices.

Professor Daher considered that the impact of the earthquake on the Syrian real estate market is a special case as a result of the war that Syria has been suffering for 12 years.

The affected areas in Syria (Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia) are considered affected areas before the devastating earthquake and suffer from a permanent increase in rent values as a result of the arrival of large numbers of displaced people.

Most of these governorates’ areas are considered to be almost completely damaged or destroyed as a result of the war operations they were subjected to earlier.

‘Bleak’ future

The activity of real estate purchases for residents in Syria is limited for a main reason represented by the offered prices, which are not commensurate with people’s purchasing power.

While the demand for real estate rentals, especially residential ones, remains high as a result of the large numbers of internally displaced persons and, more recently, the need for rent for those whose homes were destroyed due to the earthquake.

In the absence of a clear governmental plan for the Syrian regime, in terms of securing housing for those affected by the earthquake, despite the great need for that, researcher Iyad al-Jaafari believes that the future scene looks “extremely bleak.”

The real estate market in Syria is heading towards more stagnation, price collapse, and random urbanization that contradicts the technical specifications required to resist even the simplest seismic tremors in light of the fading of any confidence in the Syrian construction sector that allows betting on the return of expatriate investment soon, according to al-Jaafari.

In light of these facts, Daher believes that the real estate market in Syria currently needs many determinants to ensure that it does not deteriorate further and that it is able to meet the needs that arose as a result of the earthquake.

These determinants are:

  1. Legalization, development, and urban organization of slums, which represent between 30 and 40% of the total number of housing units, and improving their infrastructure.
  1. Improving security and safety procedures for housing construction.
  1. Setting a housing policy in favor of the working classes who suffer from housing shortages and expensive housing.

This means investing in cheap housing, providing credit facilities that allow working-class families to afford affordable house rents, and implementing a policy of controlling housing rent prices for the popular classes.

According to the latest statistics issued by the government of the regime, the number of buildings that collapsed directly in the affected governorates at the moment of the earthquake reached 199 residential buildings, without knowing until now the extent of the destruction of industrial facilities, factories, and other workshops.

From the first day, the regime’s government began to form technical committees for engineering inspection in the governorates hit by the earthquake to assess the condition of the buildings that were partially damaged, as a result of which it was decided to demolish 292 buildings that were about to fall.

According to a report issued by the Higher Relief Committee headed by the Minister of Local Administration and Environment, Hussein Makhlouf, on March 2, the most recent report on the results of the detection reached 4,444 unsafe and unreinforced buildings, while the number of buildings that needed to be strengthened to become safe reached 29,751 buildings, and the number of safe buildings that need maintenance was 30,113 buildings.



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