High rents spur Lebanon emigration
The unreasonable hike in the prices of apartments in Lebanon has led to the emigration of a great number of Lebanese youths, the economist Louis Hobeika said on Friday. “I don’t understand why they brag about the fact that real estate prices in Lebanon surpass those of New York and Paris. This is not logic at all because if we are to compare our income per capita with other countries, we will surely find a great difference,” he said. “This is encouraging Lebanese youths to emigrate for better salaries which will increase their capability of buying apartments in Lebanon.”
Hobeika’s remarks came during a session held on the sidelines of Dream 2011, the real estate exhibition held at Biel and organized by Promofair. Hobeika underlined the importance of supplying a bigger number of small- and medium-sized apartments in order to enable low income citizens to buy apartments. “This is one of the simplest rights of human beings,” he said. Hobeika attributed the stagnation witnessed in the real estate sector during the few previous months to the turmoil taking place in the region and not only because of the internal complicated political situation.
Bank Audi’s Lebanon Weekly Monitor, which published the figures, said the contraction in real estate activity is attributed to the domestic political bickering that prevailed in the country during the first five months prior to the Cabinet formation and to the regional turmoil that is adversely affecting investor sentiment at large. “The latter is proven by the yearly drop of 32.5 percent in sales transactions to foreigners over the first half of 2011,” it said. It added that the drop in demand for property in Lebanon during the first half of this year was coupled with an almost similar decline in the value of property sales during the period, which shows that prices of property in Lebanon remained stable.
For his part, head of the engineers syndicate Elie Bseibes said that development is mostly restricted and limited to Beirut and this is the main reason behind the increase in the prices of real estate in that area specifically. “What we need is to adopt a sound development policy aimed at securing a proper infrastructure including education, agriculture and industry in areas outside the capital Beirut,” he said. Meanwhile, Economy and Trade Minister Nicholas Nahhas said that the government is working on imposing fair taxes on the profits generated from the increase in the value of real estate. “The government intends to exempt owners of real estates that were registered since a long time ago from taxes, but it will impose fair taxes on profits generated from real estate in a short period of time,” he said.
A session about the real estate sector was also held Thursday in the presence of Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi who said that the remarkable increase in the price of real estate in Beirut was due to the migration of the Lebanese to the city during the war, which has also prompted a drop in the prices of real estate in areas outside Beirut. Aridi considered that the creation of a proper transportation network would highly contribute to balanced developed in all Lebanese areas.
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