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Number of vacant homes in Iran tops 2.6 million: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows a view to several high-rises in the Iranian capital Tehran.

A new report published in an Iranian economic website shows that the number of vacant properties across the country has topped 2.6 million as authorities mull taxes on empty houses in a bid to curb exorbitant prices in the housing market.

The report published on Thursday by the Navad Eghtesadi showed that the total value of the vacant properties in Iran based on pricing methods proposed by Statistical Center of Iran was around 7,700 trillion rials or nearly $60 billion.

It said the value of such properties in the provincial capital of Tehran, where prices are normally higher than the rest of Iran, was equal to the total government spending to run ministries and departments in one year.

The report said the total area occupied by empty homes in 31 Iranian provinces was about 263 million square meters.

Tehran province tops the list with around half a million vacant properties with an area of around 50 million square meters and a value of 4,100 trillion rials ($31.5 billion).

The report comes against the backdrop of efforts by Iranian government to levy taxes on vacant properties as it seeks to counter rising prices in the housing sector and to contain exorbitant rents.

A member of parliament said last year that the number of empty homes in Iran was three times those existing in developed countries where more vacant properties are normally a sign of stagnation in the housing market.  

Abolfazl Abutorabi told the official IRNA agency in August that homeowners were deliberately refusing to let their houses or sell them to push the prices high.

The lawmaker and other members of the parliament have been pressing with a motion to force homeowners to either rent their properties within a month or pay heavy taxes to the government for utilities and other services they receive.  

Property prices surged last year in Iran when national currency rial faced devaluation as a result of sanctions imposed by the United States.

Iran saw a massive construction boom in its housing industry before the sanctions started. Many still view properties as a reliable form of investment which pays off even under difficult economic circumstances.

The semi-official ISNA news agency said in 2016 that the number of vacant properties had increased by more than 60 percent in five years to reach four times the number of all houses built in the same period.

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