Friday, April 15, 2005

Baghdad real estate: getting pricey

(I changed the title, because "booming" isn't necessarily what's happening in the article.)

The AP reports:
Residential real estate prices in Iraq's capital have quadrupled in many parts of the city, says Ali al-Difaie, 54, the manager of a government office that processes property deeds. Al-Difaie and real estate agents say the rise is driven by an increase in income since the U.S.-led invasion two years ago and the liberalization of building and property laws.

"A friend from London came to me to complain about the prices," says Haider al-Rubie, 32, a Baghdad real estate agent. "This is crazy."

Statistics are hard to come by, but al-Difaie says an average 3,000-square-foot home in Baghdad's upscale Mansour district sells for $300,000 now. That is four times the Saddam-era prices. Prices are similar in other middle-class neighborhoods around the capital, al-Difaie says.
This is supply and demand at work. Why is this such a problem? As people's income grows, the most valuable resources will go up in price, because there are more who are willing to pay for it. Let me update with another thought: perhaps not as many people wanted to live in Baghdad, under the shadows of Saddam and his cronies, but now it's a better city to live in.

Or perhaps the Iraqi people would prefer cheap housing as slaves?

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
- Patrick Henry, 1775

A gilded cage is still a cage. A cheap house under a dictator's boot is still living under tyranny. Would you really prefer a country where you can buy a house for one-fourth the price, but Uday Hussein might rape and murder your 14-year-old daughter?

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