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Property market quiet

Ngoni Chanakira

PROPERTY consultants say it is now much cheaper to buy a completed house than to build one due to the escalating cost of building materials available on the market.

“It really has become much cheaper to buy a completed house than to try and build one,” a property consultant from Contact Real Estate (Pvt) Ltd said. “When you consider the escalating cost of building materials in the country right now and the effort and time that you have to go through, one would rather just purchase a completed house. However it is very wise to first seek advice from recognised estate agents before just purchasing property.”

He said property prices were now falling and individuals were taking a wait-and-see attitude, thinking they would increase during the second half of the year.

“Landlords are just holding on to their properties at the moment,” he said. “It is a case of the hyperinflationary environment. People think prices will come down soon after the fiasco surrounding financial institutions is over.”

The consultant said landlords were no longer quoting their properties in foreign currency after having been stopped by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Houses were being quoted for between US$100 000 and US$300 000.

Zimbabwe’s property market is quiet at the moment and there are lots of houses available despite the fact that prices have fallen, according to estate agents.

“The market is quiet right now,” a spokesperson for Redfern and Mullet (Pvt) Ltd said. “I think this is because there is no money around. Interest rates are going down but we still do not have that many customers.”

She said the company had “lots of properties to sell”.

The property industry has seen prices going down since the Zimbabwe dollar began losing ground against the United States greenback.

The parallel market had witnessed thousands of Zimbabweans living abroad either snapping up all the properties on offer or building designer mansions around the country.

The cost of construction of new housing in the high density areas escalates almost daily and building costs had shot up to the region of $7,5 million for a 26-square metre house.

Houses are now going for as much as $350 million in areas such as Eastlea while in the upmarket suburbs of Gunhill, Borrowdale and Highlands they are fetching about $900 million.

Houses and townhouses in the Avondale, Crowhill and Westgate areas are currently the most popular because of their accessibility to shopping malls.

Avondale and Westgate have huge shopping complexes.

A spokesman for Southgate and Bancroft (Pvt) Ltd said the market was quiet and prices were static.

“The demand is now not very high,” he said. “In fact at the moment the market is quiet.”

He said flats were in demand because individuals saw them as more affordable than houses.

“Flats are very much in demand but are currently not available,” he said.

The RBZ recently introduced a 30% productive sector facility which also benefited residential property developers and the construction industry.

In order to qualify for the scheme construction companies and building contractors had to be registered members of the Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe.

However the RBZ warned industry players that they needed to improve on corporate governance and make use of formal channels when doing business to continue benefiting from the scheme.

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