Property sales falls 20 pct in first two months.
BEIRUT: Demand for properties in Lebanon fell 20 percent in the first two months of 2012, but prices remain stable, said the head of the real estate contractors association.
"The deteriorating security situation in the region as well as political bickering have taken their toll on the real estate sector and this also scared away investors and buyers," Elie Sawma told the Central News Agency.
Sawma noted that Lebanese expatriates are increasingly opting to buy apartments in buildings that are still under construction, which has apparently lowered demand for existing housing units.
He said lower demand has affected central areas in Beirut as buyers increasingly opt for cheaper apartments in the capital's suburbs, where facilitated housing loans cover the full price of an average apartment.
Real estate transactions decreased 45 percent in January from last December's levels but still registered a 17 percent increase in value compared to same time last year, Credit Libanais Bank reported last week.
On a year-to-year basis, the number of real estate transactions dropped by 1.19 percent from 5,452 in January 2011. The value of transactions, however, rose by 17.43 percent when compared to last January's $0.48 billion level.
But the report said the number of transactions fell to 5,387 in February, down from 9,777 reached in December 2011.
It noted that December's substantially higher number of transactions owes to investors' urge to finalize pending real estate registration transactions before the end of the year.
The value of real estate transactions also fell astoundingly by 52.55 percent to $0.56 billion in January, down from $1.18 billion reached in December 2011.
Consequently, the average real estate transaction value came in 13.89 percent lower than December's reading of $121,171, and 18.85 percent higher than last January's $87,792 reading.
The report highlighted that the share of foreigners in real estate sales transactions fell by only 1.8 percent of total sales transactions in January 2012.
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