In mid-January, Syria’s Council of Ministers discussed a memorandum presented by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing to regulate the profession of real estate brokerage, establish real estate brokerage companies, and create an electronic platform to organise the sector and increase its efficiency. No media outlet has published the text of the memorandum, and it appears that the issuance of a law specific to the real estate broker profession may follow this step.
Syrian legislation currently lacks such a law. Real estate brokerage is currently regulated by decisions issued by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the latest of which was Decision No. 2139 of 2010. This decision is per Commercial Law No. 33 of 2007 and Companies Law No. 3 of 2008. Real estate brokerage is supervised by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Protection, making the Ministry of Housing’s presentation of a memorandum to regulate the profession noteworthy.
To date, there are no real estate brokerage companies in Syria; instead, the profession is carried out by real estate offices, most of which are unlicensed, and those who engage in real estate brokerage are popularly known as “dallal,” or “brokers.” Real estate offices are widespread across all Syrian regions, and there are no figures on their numbers. They do not have a syndicate.
Decision No. 2139 of 2010, with its 15 articles, regulates real estate brokerage, the mechanisms for licensing, and penalties for violations. The decision defined the profession of real estate brokerage as mediating in the sale, purchase, rental, and investment of legally transferable properties and buildings, with the real estate broker being the person who practises the profession.
According to the decision, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and its directorates have the authority to license a real estate broker to practise the profession, provided they are Syrian, over 21 years of age, have obtained a high school diploma, are not employed by the state, and have not been convicted of a serious felony. The broker must have an office that could be owned or rented, an occupancy document, a court rule, or a purchase contract in areas not yet subdivided. Additionally, the broker must have a commercial register and an administrative licence from the concerned governorate or municipality. Copies of the licensing decision must be sent to the Ministries of Economy and Trade, Housing, and Interior, as well as to the governorate and its finance directorate. The real estate brokerage licence is nominal and cannot be transferred to others or inherited after death.
If the terms of the licence are breached, if the broker ceases to practise for a year, or upon their death, the licence will be cancelled. In case of violation, the Ministry of Domestic Trade has the right to close the real estate broker’s office for a month. Brokers are subject to consumer protection laws for supply violations and financial offences and the penal code for criminal matters, such as forgery and fraud (stricter penalties are applied to these).
Real estate brokers must display their licensing documents when reviewing or registering real estate sales or rental contracts at any official entity like the Land Registry and municipalities. They must also clearly display their fees and licences in their offices. The decision requires brokers to maintain a registry of the real estate sales and rentals they mediate, with numbered pages indexed and stamped by the chief clerk of the Court of First Instance in the concerned governorate.
Decision No. 2139 prohibits brokers from engaging in any real estate brokerage before obtaining a recent real estate record for the property in question to ensure no restraint on disposal marks. There are approved templates by the Ministry of Local Administration for sales and rental contracts that brokers must adhere to and keep a copy of.
Decision No. 2139 sets the broker’s commission at a rate of 0.5 percent of the sold property’s price, and one percent of the property’s annual rental value. This commission is charged to the seller and the lessor, not to the buyer or the lessee. However, it is common practice for the broker to receive up to five percent of a sold property’s price, while the commission is usually split equally between the seller and the buyer, with each paying 2.5 percent. Generally, brokers do not adhere to a specific rate, and the commission is subject to multiple factors related to the buyer, the seller, the property’s location, and its prevailing price.
In the local real estate market, the value of commissions that brokers receive remains high despite the market downturn caused by financial inflation and currency depreciation. The market slump was further exacerbated by an increase in property supply due to travel, displacement, and migration, while the commission rate increased as sellers competed for the services of the most renowned brokers in property sales.