On August 11, 2022, the Damascus governorate announced that its real estate appraisal committee had completed work at the northern entrance of Damascus.
Appraisal committees appraise real estate properties of a to-be-zoned area based on the value of these properties before the issuance of the zoning decree.
Decree No. 237 of 2021 stipulated the creation of a zoned real estate area at the capital city’s northern entrance. The governorate would develop the project in accordance with Law No. 10 of 2018, which allowed for the creation of one or more such areas within the General Zoning Plan of an administrative unit. Decree No. 237 was based on Detailed Zoning Plan No. 104 for the Qaboun Industrial Zone, which was issued and approved in June 2019. This zoned real estate area takes up 200 hectares of land that mainly include the industrial area, in addition to a 50-hectare section carved out of the neighbouring city of Harasta, which had been a part of the Rural Damascus governorate.
Law No. 10 of 2018 and Decree No. 66 of 2012 stipulated the creation of several specialised committees that would carry out different tasks after establishing zoned real estate areas. Among those committees is the real estate appraisal committees, which must appraise the real estate of the area according to its current state – that is, the state the properties were in before the issuance of the zoning decree. The committee’s appraisal includes any buildings, facilities, trees or crops. The appraisal occurs in a “just” manner that “takes real values into account” to later compensate the owners with shares inside the zoned real estate area.
The Real Estate Appraisal Committee for the Northern Entrance to Damascus zone was formed in March 2022, by the decision of the Damascus governor. Per Decree No. 66 and Law No. 10, the body has five members, headed by a judge with the rank of a counsellor, appointed by the Minister of Justice. The other four members include two real estate experts appointed by the Minister of Public Works and Housing and two experts to serve as representatives of real estate owners in the zone who those owners elected.
Under Decree No. 66 and Law No. 10, the committee takes the following factors into account during the appraisal process: location of the land and any buildings on it, as well as facilities and connection to surrounding buildings; availability of public utilities; adherence to construction codes; the type of trees and crops (if farmland), as well as location, nature, classification, products and proximity to roads, public utilities and the city centre, and finally the sources of irrigation.
After it finished appraising properties in the Northern Entrance to Damascus zone, the committee called upon real estate owners to review its appraisal of their properties.
Decree No. 66 and Law No. 10 dictate that the table must include the committee’s appraisal of the land, buildings, trees, crops and other facilities, each with its data field. In reality, however, the table included the following fields: real estate number, real estate zone, plot number, storey, surface area, value per square metre of floor space, land value, and the total adjusted value of the buildings and land, accounting for various weight criteria. The committee did not clarify what these criteria were.
According to the head of the Committee of Qaboun Industrialists, the value per square metre of basement floor space was appraised at SYP 1.5 million; the first-storey floor space at SYP 4 million; and second-storey floor space at SYP 2.5 million.
The committee’s decisions may be appealed before the governorate’s Civil Court of Appeals, though the subsequent ruling is considered final. According to Article 14 of Law No. 10, the Civil Court of Appeals must decide on such cases within 30 days. Appeals do not halt the zoning implementation process.
Article 13 of Law No. 10 states that when the Real Estate Appraisal Committee completes its task, then the Distribution Committee estimates the values of the area’s zoning plots. It then compares the total value of all the real estate properties there, as reported by the appraisal committee, with the total value of the zoning plots. Afterwards, equity shares are distributed to the rights holders.