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Moorhead entrepreneur finds opportunity in Iraq real estate

A Baghdad office and retail center built in 1989 is listed with Foreign Real Estate Consultants for $2.9 million. Associated Press

Derrick Turner was reading The New York Times while studying abroad in Europe last year. The Carleton College student from Moorhead saw an article about property prices rising in Baghdad.

"It just kind of got me going. There's probably some money to be made there," Turner recalls thinking.

Now he and two partners are selling Iraq property through their business, Foreign Real Estate Consultants LLC.

Their online listings show residential properties ranging in U.S. dollar prices from a $70,000 lot to a $15 million former U.S. ambassador's mansion overlooking the Tigris River.

There's a former eight-floor hospital building for $8.5 million and a palm date orchard in Baghdad for

$1.6 million.

Retail listings range from a $120,000 lot to a $3.8 million shopping center.

"Iraq has a lot of potential in the next three to seven years for land prices to appreciate and grow," Turner said. "Our main focus is servicing contracts for the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

Foreign Real Estate Consultants has been selected for placement of a blanket purchase agreement for real estate services throughout Iraq, said Diana Rodenas, contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division, in Baghdad.

Foreign Real Estate Consultants provides Iraqi real estate brokerage services to buyers in and outside of Iraq, says the company Web site,

"Most of the projects we deal with are commercial properties," Turner said. "Most of the people we serve are Iraqis not in Iraq anymore."

Turner, a 2005 Moorhead High School graduate, launched the company about a year ago. "I've always been the entrepreneurial type," he said.

His business partners are Ishraf Amhad, a Bangladesh national located in Northfield, Minn., and Ali Al-Robaie, an Iraqi living in Baghdad.

"He's the operational guy. He knows the terrain and speaks the language," Turner said, referring to Al-Robaie.

"We've been contacted by venture capital funds interested in investing in Baghdad," Turner said. "We feel there's opportunity for growth."