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Revealed: how real estate is shining through Lebanon’s economic gloom

Real estate has become a safe haven in Lebanon amid the dire economic crisis after a significant number of investors have shifted their money to the sector over the past year.

According to Lebanon’s Central Bank, only one sector out of 11 monitored for economic activity showed growth over the first few months of 2020 and that was the value of property sales in the country.

The central bank data revealed an increase of 137.5 percent over the first seven months of 2020 when compared to the previous year’s corresponding period.

However, while some depositors preferred to transfer their money abroad or even keep cash – which is reflected in the significant rise in currency in circulation – others preferred to use their frozen assets and pay back their loans or even buy fixed assets such as properties and real estate.

So buying properties in Lebanon has become a trend to unlock dollar bank accounts in light of tight capital controls imposed by Lebanese commercial banks to restrict withdrawals of dollar banknotes.

Investors have been buying up real estate at levels not seen for years in Lebanon’s previously stagnant property market.

Property transactions posted a noticeable rise of 113.1 percent year-on-year to attain a total of $8.4 billion in the first eight months of 2020, according to statistics published by the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre.

The real estate rush has created a new demand for vacant apartments. Over the past three months, many developers have sold a stock of apartments that they have been unable to sell for years, according to real estate brokers.