Demand for garden flats increases in Harare

Ngoni Chanakira

PROPERTIES to let, especially garden flats, are becoming extremely hard to find because of the acute accommodation shortage in Harare, a leading estate agent said this week.<
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A spokesman for Southgate & Bancroft Company (Pvt) Ltd said the rentals business was currently “very brisk”.


“Business is very brisk right now,” he said. “Whatever property we get for rent just goes. Actually right now we don’t have anything for rent and I think this is mainly because there is a shortage of accommodation in Harare.”

He said even office space was hard to find in the capital city.


“There is no stock at the moment,” he said. “Garden flats are also being snapped up quickly because individuals sometimes turn these into offices so that they live and work from one place.”


He however said on the sales side business was rather slow and individuals were finding it difficult to secure land which had shot through the roof during the past three months.


The spokesman said this was probably due to speculation on the property market resulting from foreign currency transactions being conducted on the parallel market where the British pound is nearing the $10 000 mark against the dollar among dealers.


Zimbabweans, especially those living in the United Kingdom, have caused the jump in property prices as they keep sending pounds to snap up land and equipment in the country.


“There isn’t much as far as sales are concerned,” he said. “Maybe it is because prices have increased too much during the past few weeks so that even those living abroad are now finding it difficult to buy. Properties in low density areas have also gone up very much and are costing around $500 million today.”


The spokesman said houses in high-density suburbs such as Budiriro, Glen View and Highfields were going for as much as $50 million.


“A half acre stand in the Mt Pleasant area is asking $25 million and this is before one begins to build. So you can imagine what one needs to complete a house nowadays. The sales side of the business is very slow.”


A spokesperson for Guest & Tanner Real Estate (Pvt) Ltd said business was fair on the renting side especially in the middle-housing sector but was difficult as far as sales were concerned.


She said garden flats were also very popular among tenants.

“Garden flats are in great demand,” she said. “In fact all types of properties for rent are wanted by various individuals right now. However sales are difficult to conduct right now and sellers tend to hold on to their properties when they feel the price being offered is not high enough.”


A Redfern & Mullet (Pvt) Ltd spokesperson said residential sales were very quiet but houses within the $60 million and $100 million range were selling much faster than the more expensive ones on the market.


“It is easier to sell houses in this range,” she said.

Landlords for residential properties continue to seek very high rentals as the country’s inflation figure skyrockets.


From about 200% in January this year, the country’s inflation figure has shot up to 364,5% for June.


Economists however predict the figure will reach 500% by year-end caused mainly by escalating commodity, fuel, electricity and transport costs.


Some tenants are now illegally asking for United States dollars as payment for their designer mansions in the plush suburbs countrywide.


In Zimbabwe it is illegal to charge for goods in foreign currency.

However, it is permissible to peg items in foreign currency in which case the Zimbabwe dollar equivalent is payable by the customer.