The Real Estate Finance Oversight Commission (REFOC) held an exam in late 2021 to select real estate experts. Of the 155 trainees eligible for the exam, which was held at the Damascus University Faculty of Law, 127 actually took the test.
REFOC was established in 2009 in accordance with Law No. 39 of 2009, with the aim of regulating and supervising funding for the real estate sector; to protect the rights of various parties to the funding process; and to improve the performance of workers in this sector. The body, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Finance, is considered a legal entity and has financial and administrative independence. Under Law No. 39, real estate finance means financing the purchase, construction, renovation, or improvement of a home, service facility, or other property by guaranteeing the property’s lien, mortgaging the property, or through other means accepted by the financier.
Each real estate expert is granted their licence for one year and may renew it provided that they continue to undergo training and pay their fees. Real estate experts are individuals licenced by REFOC who practice the profession of appraising real estate and determining the values of different kinds of properties.
Law No. 8 of 2012, which focuses on real estate experts and the conditions for practicing their profession, specifies that applicants for the real estate expert exam must be Syrian citizens residing in Syria. They must have a university degree in economics, law, civil engineering, or architecture, be at least 25 years old, and must have spent two years as a trainee in a real estate office or in companies related to real estate and engineering.
Law No. 8 describes the stages of a real estate expert’s career as follows: First they are a real estate evaluator, or “mukhman,” then after five years they become a real estate appraiser, or “muqayyam.” Two years later they become a general real estate appraiser. The exact differences between an evaluator and an appraiser are difficult to distinguish. According to Law No. 8, real estate evaluation means estimating the value of properties based on a comparison with market prices, while an appraisal estimated the value of a property in accordance with the intention of the appraisal process and in compliance with certain criteria.
In this context, the Minister of Finance issued a decree in late 2021 in his capacity as chairperson of REFOC that listed the names of the 395 real estate experts who had been approved and licenced in Syria for the year 2022. The decree classifies those experts as real estate evaluators, appraisers, or general appraisers.
Law No. 8 of 2012 requires the assistance of real estate experts in any real estate financing process. This is why the work of these experts has become tied to the work of real estate finance companies and refinance companies, whose provisions were regulated by Law No. 15 of 2008. That being said, where such companies are absent, the field remains narrow for real estate experts, and is largely related to lending operations that use real estate as collateral through banks or lending for real estate purposes.
Broadly speaking, the Ministry of Finance has an ongoing trend of using real estate experts to appraise properties based on the co-called “current value,” in accordance with Real Estate Sales Law No. 15 of 2021 and Law No. 17 of 2021, which focuses on real estate registration fees. This trend emerged even more clearly when this year’s real estate expert exam included questions related to the aforementioned laws.