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Armenia

Syria Refugees Boost Yerevan's Housing Market

Syrian-Armenian refugees arrive in Yerevan on August 17.
Syrian-Armenian refugees arrive in Yerevan on August 17.

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By Lilit Harutiunian
YEREVAN – As refugees pour out of Syria, they are putting a heavy burden on the economies of many nearby countries.

Except Armenia.

In Yerevan, the arrival of thousands of mostly well-off Syrian-Armenians seeking refuge has created an uptick in the housing market.

Rent prices are rising and there is a sudden surge in the number of apartments being put on the market.

"Many [refugees] came and rented apartments for a month and now they extend their rents for another month after hearing the news about the worsening situation [in Syria]," says Garik Danielian, who runs a real estate agency in Yerevan. "People are scared. There are [also] people who buy homes. There is some movement [in that market as well], even a slight increase in prices for newly built homes. The tendency of falling prices on the housing market that we have seen since late 2008 has temporarily stopped.”

Mostly, the refugees prefer to rent apartments, not buy houses. Danielian says there are 10 times as many rental flats as houses currently on offer in the city.

He says that an apartment that could be rented out last year for $1,500 a month this year is hard to find even for $1,800 – about 20 percent higher.

Wait-And-See Attitude

The preference for renting seems to underscore the uncertainty of the refugees over what to do next.

Newly constructed residential buildings in the center of Yerevan
Newly constructed residential buildings in the center of Yerevan
Natalie Gasparian, who fled from Aleppo to Armenia a month and a half ago, lives in a rented downtown apartment together with her husband, children, and in-laws.

She is eager to go back to Syria, but she says if the situation there does not improve, her family will start thinking about buying a home in Yerevan.

“We now live here by renting an apartment to see what kind of city this is," she says. "Eventually, we’ll decide whether we want to buy a home here or not.”

There are good reasons for hesitation about the future. Armenia offers those fleeing Syria a safe refuge but not immediate economic alternatives. The Caucasian country remains hard hit by the global economic slowdown and jobs are hard to come by.

Getting Their Money Out

Equally difficult for the refugees is the problem of how to bring their money out of Syria should they decide to relocate permanently. Selling property and businesses at anything more than fire-sale prices is difficult in Syria today, and without capital it is hard to start any new business in Yerevan.

As the refugees weigh their next move, many try to re-create the life they left behind as best they can in their new home.

Real estate agents say the refugees have very clear preferences when it comes to choosing apartments.

They want their houses or apartments to be downtown, situated close to major streets and roads, and to get a lot of sun during the day. That duplicates the busy, labyrinthine feel of older Syrian cities like Aleppo, from which many of the refugees have come.
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by: Armen from: US
August 23, 2012 15:01
Welcome to your home land. No matter how the economy is, it is still your home land and it will be safe to stay there. Economy is only a matter of time and it is slowly getting better. God bless Armenia and the world!
In Response

by: Al from: France
August 24, 2012 07:59
I second your thoughts. Although according to reports Armenians in Syria are not in immediate danger from either side of the conflict, the wounds of Turkish Genocide after almost one hundred years are still undestandably fresh.

by: RD
August 29, 2012 19:27
Gentlemen, don't forget Artsakh is willing to accept Armenians from Syria or anywhere for that matter, with open arms. I know many Armenians who have never been there thing Artsakh is a war zone. I have been there before, and it is one of the most peaceful places I ever visited. I love it there. Don't worry, Azerbaijan can not do anything. You would hope Aliyev is not as stupid as he looks to think he can start a war with Artsakh and win. You hope, but you never know.

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