Report: Real Estate Sales in Lebanon Plummets in 2018

Published January 8th, 2019 - 08:01 GMT
Many were forced to cut their prices by 15-20 percent to attract buyers, yet even that did little to improve the property market. (Shutterstock)
Many were forced to cut their prices by 15-20 percent to attract buyers, yet even that did little to improve the property market. (Shutterstock)

Continued stagnation in Lebanon’s real-estate market was reflected in a sharp drop in property sales in most regions in the first 11 months of 2018.

According to the Finance Ministry’s statistics, the number of real-estate transactions in the first 11 months of last year fell by 17.7 percent compared to the same period of 2017. Figures released by the Finance Ministry indicate that there were 54,687 real-estate transactions in the first 11 months of 2018, constituting a decrease of 17.7 percent from 66,458 deals in the same period of 2017.”

“In comparison, the number of real-estate transactions grew by 15 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2017 and increased by 2 percent annually in the same period of 2016,” Byblos Bank’s Lebanon This Week publication said.

Most real-estate developers have complained that the suspension of the Central Bank’s housing loan subsidy program was among the main reasons for the decline in apartment sales.

Many were forced to cut their prices by 15-20 percent to attract buyers, yet even that did little to improve the property market.

The severe economic slowdown and a reluctance of investors to venture into the real-estate market were other reasons behind the slump.

The report said that there were 10,836 real-estate transactions in the Baabda area in the first 11 months of 2018, representing 19.8 percent of the total.

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The north followed with 8,513 deals (15.6 percent), then the Zahle region with 6,839 transactions (12.5 percent), the south with 6,420 deals (11.7 percent), the Metn district with 6,153 transactions (11.3 percent), the Kesrouan area with 5,277 deals (9.6 percent), the Nabatieh region with 4,885 transactions (8.9 percent), and Beirut with 4,137 deals (7.6 percent).

“Also, the aggregate value of real-estate transactions reached $7.3 billion in the first 11 months of 2018 and decreased by 18.9 percent from $9 billion in the same period of 2017.

“In comparison, the value of real-estate deals grew by 20.4 percent annually in the first 11 months of 2017 and increased by 5.4 percent year-on-year in the same period of 2016. Further, the value of real-estate transactions in Beirut reached $2.15 billion and accounted for 29.4 percent of the total in the first 11 months of 2018,” the report said.

It added that the average value per real-estate transaction was $133,715 in the first 11 months of 2018, down by 1.4 percent from an average of $135,629 in the same period of 2017 and relative to $129,623 in the first 11 months of 2016.

Real-estate developers reported that the bulk of buyers were interested in small to medium-sized apartments. The size of these apartments ranges between 110 square meters and 150 square meters.

The developers admit that they are finding it almost impossible to sell any luxury apartments that carry a price tag of over $1 million.

The report said Saudi nationals accounted for 56 percent of total real-estate transactions executed by foreigners in November 2018, followed by Syrians (7.7), Kuwaitis (6 percent), Iraqis (4.8 percent), Qataris (2.8 percent), French citizens (2.3 percent) and British citizens (1.6 percent).


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