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Saturday Feature
Economy housing for low income group
Munima Sultana

          This year REHAB fair drew a huge crowd of visitors that broke all its previous records. Despite significant rise in both apartment and land prices, people however queried a lot about apartments in the fair. But the real estate developers have noticed that most of the queries came from the middle class population. And potential clients have looked for flats in non- traditional areas where most of the real estate developers had so far not given emphasis.
With 25 per cent growth in the last few years, the real estate developers have so far been able to meet the needs of the upper and upper-middle classes. Most of these businesses were centered within the areas like Gulshan, Dhanmondi, Baridhara and Banani. But huge crowds of people from the midtown and older parts of the city have made the real estate business to consider the prospects of areas like Khilgaon, Basaboo, Maghbazar and so on.
Kawsar Rayhan Hayder of Sheltech (Private) Limited said visitors at REHAB fair looked for small flats ranging from 700 sfts to 1500 sfts from their stall. He said this fair made them understand the market need and would help them to change their business strategy in the future.
The same opinion was expressed by Assurance Development Limited, a developer that participated the fair as an observer to collect data on market needs. Mohammad Bayezid, Executive (Sales and Marketing) told the FE that for having good name in the real estate business, many customers had looked for their apartments and they received the demand mostly for Mohammadpur, Mirpur and older part of the city.
He said that Assurance played the role of an observer to understand the areas chosen most by the clients, what types of apartment they wanted and what were their budgets from the people's queries during the fair.
Although salespersons at different stalls admitted that most of the flat buyers were shocked at the incredible rise in the flat prices, Bayezid however, said that Assurance was also to look into the matter and tried to close the gap between client and company. He however said without government help, they cannot overcome this market limitation.
REHAB fair, the biggest annual exposition of the sector's apex body, gathered about 94 real estate developers, out of its 200 members, under a roof this year, allowing the clients to see and compare different kinds of projects for taking the best possible decisions.
Organisers said this year, Real Estate Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) was able to hold the fair in a more organised way than it did on four such occasions before and found that the market for apartments was higher than that of land.
However, the REHAB fair did a business of about Tk 5.25 billion by selling 700 flats, 200 shops and 1100 plots. The number of visitors crossed 30,000 from which the participating developers now expect a business of more than Tk 3 billion.
This year, apart from exposition, REHAB also held three seminars and business matchmaking meetings under Euro Builders Project, a joint initiative of REBHA and European Commission to help the players to boost the sector.
Mohd Ziaul Ahsan, REHAB Manager, said that as the rate of flat prices in the Gulshan-Banani or Dhanmondi areas shot up significantly, people have now shifted their choice from areas like Wari to Mohammadpur. This year's fair also found change in the habit of the people to live in small flats, he added.
And that was why Mita was found happy to book a 1090 sft flat in Moghbazar where she has been living as a tenant for long 10 years. The housewife of a T and T officer, Mita, however, felt that loan availability with lower interest rate could help many clients like her to overcome this kind of price-hike situation. The recent hike of price enabled many middle class people to avail loan facilities, she added.
The price of flats was hiked from 10 to 15 per cent.
Although money was not a problem for Qamrul Hossain Litu, who worked for more than five years in Australia, he, however, faced difficulties in taking decision during the fair. He said that the renowned developers of his choice were charging high rate against his choice in Uttara, which he believed would be more habitable to live for his future generation.
He said that he might make compromise with high rate of one of the companies, which have good reputation in the market in handling clients efficiently, and ensuring quality flats.
Although the growth of real estate market depends on the choice of each customer, many developers believed that mushrooming of real estate companies could bring the sector in the right track.
Waliul Islam, Deputy Manager (sales) of Navana Real Estate Ltd, said that the need for this sector would not end until a single tenant exists. He said that since bad reputation of one or two companies leave negative impact on the total sector, it is necessary to check the growth of such companies to help the sector develop properly.
Both the clients and the salesmen emphasised that such dishonest developers has to be reined in by strengthening the supervision work under the Building Code. Litu, however, believed that the sector players would not act properly if the people involved in the city planning were efficient.
Real estate contributes 12-14 per cent to the gross domestic products by delivering average 4000-6000 units annually. The sector players claim that 1.5 million skilled and semi-skilled workers are employed in the sector, which contributes Tk 70 million to the government as revenue. But the sector sees its potential more in other part of the country and abroad.
But if the government keeps to it commitment of ensuring housing for all by 2015, the sector will grow to meet the need of the low-income group of people. Until this year, no such initiative from the government was in sight.


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