Armenia’s real estate market has seen some growth in recent months which local realtors link to a growing number of ethnic Armenians arriving from Syria amid escalating violence in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.
While some of these Armenians intend to stay in Armenia on a more or less permanent basis and therefore prefer becoming homeowners, most of them still seem undecided and choose to rent homes for now.
Garik Danielian, who runs a private real estate agency in Yerevan, said this might explain why there are ten times as many rents as home-buying deals in the market. “Many came and rented apartments for a month, and they now extend their rents for another month after hearing news of the worsening situation [in Syria.] People are scared,” Danielian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“There are people who buy homes, there is some movement [in the market], even a slight increase in prices for newly built homes,” he said. “The trend of falling prices in the housing market, which we have seen since late 2008, has temporarily stopped.”
According to other realtors, Armenians from Syria often prefer renting or buying housing in or close to downtown Yerevan as well as in newly constructed residential buildings. “They want to be closer to transportation, traffic; they are interested in more prestigious options,” said Eros, a real estate agent who moved to Armenia from Iran seven years ago.
Artin Arakelian, director of a real estate agency in Yerevan, said those who have come to Armenia so far are mainly well-to-do Syrian Armenians. He said they are also exploring business opportunities in the country, thereby pushing up demand for office space as well.
“There is also [greater] demand for business premises because the people who are now moving to Armenia and who can see their future here also want to rent some commercial property to see if, for example, they could be as successful here in Armenia doing the same business as they’ve done in Syria,” explained Arakelian.
Natalie Gasparian, a Syrian Armenian woman, has lived in a rented Yerevan apartment together with her husband, children and in-laws for almost two months. She said they are eager to go back to Syria but will stay in Armenia for at least a few more months to see how the situation in their home country evolves. If it gets worse, the family will probably start thinking about buying a home in Yerevan, she said.
“We now live here by renting an apartment to see what kind of a city this is,” Gevorgian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Eventually, we’ll decide whether we want to buy a home here or not.”
“It’s more expensive to rent an apartment here,” said Gevorg Adulian, an Armenian from Aleppo. “But real estate prices are almost identical.”
As things stand now, Syrian Armenians are clearly in no rush to become homeowners in Armenia. As Arakelian explained, many of them are not yet sure they can find a job in Armenia and do not know what will happen in Syria next. Besides, he said, they have trouble selling their properties in Syria and bringing their capital to Armenia.
Citing his own his experience of dealing with potential homebuyers among Syrian Armenians, the realtor added, “Those of them who managed to sell their homes at normal prices a few months ago can afford to buy homes [in Armenia] worth $70,000 to $120,000. But I repeat that they are very choosy about what kind of housing they want to buy and don’t do that very easily.”