Iraqis Returning to Baghdad Find Skyrocketing Housing Prices

Displaced Iraqis knocking on the door to homeownership are finding themselves increasingly locked out of affordable options as thousands stream back into Baghdad, The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

Masses are returning to Baghdad amid decreasing violence only to discover doubling sales prices in some areas and an emaciated supply of homes within their budgets.

"Day by day the prices are increasing, and I keep on decreasing my options," said Hussam Jassem, 35, who earns a middle-class salary of about $400 a month. Yet a 750-square-foot home in a lower-middle-class neighborhood goes for around $150,000, and in the upper-middle-class Karada area, a 2,300-square-foot plot of land is priced at $350,000.

Last year home prices and rents dropped as Iraqis fled the turbulence.

According to the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization, more than 67,000 have returned to Baghdad since mid-September.

Realtors are feeling the pinch, too.

"There is plenty of demand and I have nothing to supply them with," said real estate agent Mohammed Hassan, who sells homes in the lower-middle-class neighborhood Shaab, in northeast Baghdad.

For Jassem, a government worker, time is running out to find viable options to house his parents, two sisters and brother.

"I will end up with nothing if I don't find something soon."

Click here for more on this story from The Los Angeles Times.