BEIRUT, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Real-estate properties in Lebanon are not likely to witness a drop in prices in the near future after an increase of at least 30 percent over the past year driven by a great demand, local experts told Xinhua.
At least 2 billion U.S. dollars flowed from Lebanese banks into the country's real estate sector in 2020 as most depositors fear a possible haircut amid the financial collapse in Lebanon.
"We are still witnessing great demand for real estate properties by people who have banks' deposits and are willing to flee into the real estate sector," Raja Makarem, owner of RAMCO real estate developer, told Xinhua.
Makarem explained that most developers in Lebanon have already sold out all their apartments and most of the houses currently offered for sale are second-hand.
Lebanon has been going through its worst financial crisis in history amid the shortage in U.S. dollar, prompting banks to impose restrictions on cash withdrawals and stop exchange from Lebanese pound to dollar, which has created panic among depositors.
Mazen Moharam, CEO of Moharam and Itani Developers, told Xinhua that the prices of real-estate properties are not likely to drop only when it comes to houses sold in return for banker's checks, since owners who seek to sell their houses in return for cash tend to offer a discount of more than 50 percent.
"For instance, any expat who has cash money can buy an apartment valued at 500,000 dollars for only 200,000 dollars in cash," he explained.
Some people in dire need of cash even accept the mixture of small cash and banker's checks in payments, Mazen noted.
Both estate developers, however, told Xinhua that there are no new construction projects in Lebanon for the time being despite the great demand.
"Developers need cash money to buy construction materials. This is why nobody dares to start any construction projects today," Mazen Moharam explained, expecting a stagnation in construction projects in Lebanon until the authorities come up with a solution to the liquidity crisis in the country.
The latest available figures show that cement deliveries totalled 1.02 million tons in the first eight months of 2020, a drop of 54.4 percent from 2.24 million tons in the same period of 2019, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic research publication by Byblos Bank, Lebanon's third largest bank by assets. Enditem