Lebanon Opportunities

End-of-year rising demand

At the end of 2019, the number of new apartments available for sale within Beirut, and the four surrounding cazas, fell, according to studies undertaken by InfoPro Research. Metn registered the highest number of sales, with Administrative Beirut recording the least. According to a comprehensive survey of the largest 100 developers in the country toward the end of January, demand spiked in December and January due to fears surrounding capital controls and a potential ‘haircut’. Developers reported strong sales during this period, which is supported by figures from the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre (Cadastre). The Cadastre reported that these figures, which include all registered real estate transactions, represent the lowest level of sales since 2004.

Beirut

Beirut holds the largest stock of new apartments, and levels have remained stable compared to last year. The Cadastre reported that sector-wide sales in Beirut have decreased slightly, however, the value of the sales remained relatively steady. According to the InfoPro survey, prices in Beirut have trended downwards, though Beirut Central District still commands the highest prices. According to interviews, CEO of Capstone Investment Group, who has projects in Ashrafieh and Mar Mikhael, said: “We have witnessed demand for small and medium units specifically.” Maalouf also said that they are offering discounts from 15 to 20 percent, but that potential buyers are initially seeking discounts up to 40 percent. Maalouf said: “When customers make a deal for an apartment which is still under construction, they are making a large payment of up to 80 percent of the unit’s price.” The clients will then later pay ten percent on delivery and a further ten percent on registration. Maalouf said that they will stop selling when they have paid their outstanding debts, and that they prefer to hold apartments aside at present. However, Maalouf will continue work on projects that are under construction. , General Manager of Century 21, a brokerage firm, said: “The lease to own concept, which had just started, will not advance in the near future. Developers are not willing to take the risk.” Khatib also said that he expects the trend for smaller apartments to continue in line with the decreasing size of households throughout the country, a belief echoed by of Landmark Real Estate. Khatib said that developers who do not need to sell in order to pay debts will hold on to their properties. Sleiman said: “We had lists of suppliers [people with properties to sell], but we always have to check with the vendor before offering his property for sale, many of the properties that were for sale, are no longer part of the supply,” referring to the fact that many individuals and organizations are removing their properties from the market in face of financial uncertainty.

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