Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Young Iranians hit hard by surging property prices

Roxana Saberi, Channel NewsAsia:
Housing prices in many cities around the world have been going up - even in the Iranian capital Tehran.

Iranians earn an average monthly wage of US$160 but a small 2-bedroom flat in a middle-class district now costs at least US$80,000.

Young Iranians have been especially hard hit.

Many of Iran's young people work hard, often holding two and sometimes three jobs.

But even with that, many of them, like 27-year-old Nafise, cannot afford to buy a place of their own. READ MORE

She said: "I don't think I will be able to buy the house that I want for some time."

In recent years, housing prices increased an average of 15 to 17 percent annually, when adjusted for inflation.

High demand was only one reason for the rise in prices as land and building materials had also become more expensive.

But builders say over the past several months, this price hike has slowed, and housing prices have more or less stabilised.

Some analysts say talk of a possible US or Israeli attack on Iran may have helped curb foreign investment, though few Iranians would tell you that prospect has much to do with their buying decisions.

The cost of buying an apartment is still simply too high for many Iranians and young people, trying to build their own lives, have been getting hit hard.

One government study found that 88 percent of young people between 15 and 29 years old live with their parents.

And many young couples decide to rent instead of buy.

"Two to three years ago we had young couples as customers but we don't see many of them now. Young couples seldom buy their own houses unless their parents do so for them," said one builder.

Many young people have been calling on the government to help.

But some economists say it would better in the long run for the government to use its money to create industries and jobs instead, so more young people can earn money to not only buy their first place but also to have a reliable income for years to come.