Parliament in Kyrgyzstan this week began considering changes to the law that would allow foreign citizens to freely build and buy property.
The proposal, which was brought before parliament on September 25, is intended to promote outside investment.
This fix is intended to patch up a kink in the law that has in effect deprived non-Kyrgyz citizens the ability to acquire residential property in the country. Prior to 2013, foreign citizens and companies were able to buy or receive property on condition they received permission from a special state committee. Following a change to the rules that year, foreigners no longer required permission, but with the abolition of the committee, there was no procedure in place to regulate the transaction.
The draft bill proposes allowing foreigners to buy real estate so long as they have a permanent residence permit or an investor visa. One provision does, however, envision certain restrictions, such as sale of property to stateless persons or in near-border areas, on the basis that this could leave the country open to threat from “terrorist and extremist groups.”
Uzbekistan has already adopted similar rules for its capital city, Tashkent, although there’s a catch. Foreigners and non-residents of Tashkent can buy real estate in the capital as long as it is worth at least $150,000.
Until July, only officially registered residents of Tashkent and people who moved to the capital to work for the government were able to buy property.
But as newsru.com noted in a news item on these changes, the prices of real estate in Tashkent have averagely dropped by around one-quarter over the past two years. New builds can cost around $600 per square meter. That means buying anything over the $150,000 threshold starts to become complicated — since the going market rates imply an apartment across a huge area of 250 square meters. The only real alternative is to buy two- or three-story houses, newsru.com reported.
Proposals floated last year in Kazakhstan to loosen the rule on foreigners buying land were greeted by a swell of popular indignation, so the plans were quickly shelved. Restrictions on foreigners ability to buy property irks property developers, who continue to suffer from the economic stagnation brought on sagging oil prices, but political sensitivities mean little is likely to change on this front for long.