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Baghdad, Iraq Press, October 6, 2003 ? For the first time in decades Iraqis are free to buy houses and live anywhere in the country.
The US-backed Governing Council has scrapped the tough restrictions the ousted leader Saddam Hussein had imposed on the purchase and sale of property in the country.
Iraqis were not allowed to rent, buy or sell property at will.
For example Kurds were banned from owning property in most of the country and only those who were registered to be residents of Baghdad in a 1957 census were allowed to buy a house in the capital.
The restrictions were part of numerous regulations and laws the former regime passed with the explicit aim of maintaining its iron grip on power and monitoring an increasingly restive population.
On September 29 the council removed all these restrictions and Iraqis are now free to move and buy and reside anywhere in the country.
"This decision stems from the Governing Council's belief in the right of the citizens and the realization of equity and justice among all the Iraqi people so that they will have the right to own properly in all areas of Iraq," the ruling said.
The measure is expected to lead to a boost in the housing market which has already shown signs of renewed strength after decades of stagnation.
Real estate agents in Baghdad say the new law will boost confidence in the market. Some of them said they have already noticed more interest from buyers.
They said they expect a boom once banks resume full activities and begin offering mortgage loans.
Interest in real estate is no longer confined to Iraqis.
Foreign property investors are said to be exploring the housing markets in greater numbers following overtures that the government would allow them to buy and rent at favorable terms.
Viviun, the leader in international property, now offers listings of Iraq rentals on its website, ranging from hotels to houses and land.
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