The real estate market in the Daraa Governorate has witnessed increased supply and lower prices, coinciding with the conclusion of the recent security settlement deal. The likely reason for this increase in supply is due to people selling their properties in order to afford migration outside of Syria. Daraa residents fear that there will be a new wave of security restrictions in the near future, after regime forces tightened control over the governorate in recent months.
Most towns and villages in the Daraa Governorate underwent a series of settlement agreements in October. The agreements included the “settlement of the security status” for certain people by representatives of the regime security apparatus. People were also required to hand over some weapons.
The biggest problems buyers and sellers have faced are security and administrative restrictions on sales, especially the prior security approval for any real estate sale. According to local sources, sellers could now obtain the security approval within a few weeks if they pay bribes to the security officers.
Another obstacle is Council of Ministers Decree No. 28 of 2021, which requires a minimum deposit of SYP 5 million into the bank account of the party selling their residential or commercial property or vehicle. This deposit is a condition for accepting the official registration of sales contracts. In addition to freezing SYP 500,000 of the seller’s money for a period of three months, there are daily withdrawal ceilings for the rest of the deposit. These measures serve to pressure sellers, as many of them wish to sell their properties quickly in order to emigrate.
On top of all these restrictions are new taxes set by Real Estate Sales Law No. 15 of 2021, which amount to one per cent of the current value of a given property.
To circumvent these rules, stakeholders have resorted to carrying out sales outside of the official procedures. Several methods for selling real estate have emerged recently, most notably the transfer of ownership through a “donation.” This is the simplest method and has become the most common. The “donor” need only pay the fees related to the donation and the ownership of the property is transferred within days. Under Law No. 15 of 2021, the tax for donations is no more than 15 percent of the sales tax, which itself is set at one percent of the cost of the property based on its current value.
Another method to avoid administrative and security hurdles is to write a sales contract and sign it in the presence of two witnesses. The buyer then files a lawsuit to authenticate his or her ownership of the property Such lawsuits usually need years to go through the judiciary. However, if the two parties involved appear before a judge and acknowledge that the sale occurred the judge can issue a decision transferring the ownership to the buyer.
According to local sources, a large number of sales have occurred in the past two months. For example, one resident in the rural western part of the Daraa Governorate sold five hectares of agricultural land to pay for the costs of travel for his son, who was wanted for mandatory military service. Half of the amount went towards obtaining a fast-track passport and an entry visa to Belarus. The remaining half went towards paying a smuggler to help his son reach the Belarussian-Polish border, in the hopes of eventually reaching Germany.
There are no precise figures on the number of people who have recently emigrated from the Daraa Governorate. A travel office in the town of Nawa told The Syria Report that more than 6,000 people have left the town in the past three months, headed toward Lebanon, the UAE, Egypt, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Europe. A decision made following the security settlement deal to postpone the mandatory military service for a period of one year and ease the process for obtaining passports has made it easier for young men to leave the Daraa Governorate. In addition, the cost of smuggling persons wanted by the security forces from Daraa to Lebanon decreased from USD 1,500 in 2018 to USD 150 currently.