By Shakeh Avoyan
Recent years’ strong growth in Armenian housing prices has continued unabated in 2004, with many apartments in Yerevan now costing 50 percent more than they did last year, according to the latest government data.
“The prices for the first nine months of the year are up by roughly 51.5 percent compared with the same period in 2003,” a senior official at the State Cadastre Committee, Arshak Khachatrian, told RFE/RL on Monday. “In other cities, the average growth has been 9.9 percent.”
The number of apartment sale and purchase deals similarly rose by 23 percent, he said.
Private real estate agencies, though more conservative in their estimates, confirm the continuing trend which began in 2001 and is presented by government officials as an indication of faster economic growth in Armenia. Yuri Gavlienko of the Real Property Valuation Center estimates that the price of apartments and private houses in Yerevan has soared by between 25 percent and 40 percent since the beginning of the year.
The Armenian capital remains the country’s by far most expensive residential area. But even inside it prices vary broadly, with one square meter of housing on the city outskirts now worth an equivalent of $150 and up to $1,000 in the center.
Real estate developers have already moved to cash in on the increased demand for expensive apartments in the city center where several new residential blocks and office buildings are currently under construction. Some of them are being built along the future Northern Avenue
designed to become the Yerevan’s main commercial street.
Khachatrian said the growing prices reflect an improving economic situation and are not the result of a speculative market bubble. Gavlienko agreed with this explanation, but also noted that more and more Armenians living in Russia and other parts of the world want to have a home in Armenia and thus boost the demand.