7 December 2012

Zambia: 'Support NHA, ZNBS'

A LEADING property and real estate consultant has called for a deliberate policy to strengthen the National Housing Authority (NHA) and Zambia National Building Society (ZNBS) to help offset the current shelter deficit in the country.

Bitrust Real Estate principal consultant and executive chairperson Holland Mulenga has also challenged property developers and the financial sector to introduce measures which will see the construction of at least 150,000 housing units per year.

Mr Mulenga said Zambia had a housing deficit of more than one million housing units and suggested investment in the construction of an average of 150,000 housing units annually along the line of rail as one of the measures aimed at alleviating the country's accommodation shortage.

"Property developers and the financial sector should put in place measures which would see the construction of 150,000 housing units per year in most districts in Lusaka and the Copperbelt provinces over the next 10 years from now in order to bring a reasonable balance to the housing market," he said.

Mr Mulenga, who is Valuation Surveyors Registration Board chairperson said there was need to embark on the construction of massive housing units to meet the current shortage.

Mr Mulenga observed that most housing units that had been built since 1996 had been done in small numbers by individuals and organisations, saying none of them had done more than 1,000 units at once.

He said there was, therefore, need for a deliberate policy to strengthen institutions such as NHA and the ZNBS.

He, however, said it was gratifying that the planned issuance of municipal bonds could help beef up the supply of houses by local authorities.

The rapid rise in house prices and rentals is clearly arising from the scarcity of house supply, leading to too few houses on the market against a rising population.

"Building high-rise flats is one possible panacea and perhaps a cheaper method for the supply of basic services and infrastructure needed to meet this urban drift.

"It is gratifying to note that new districts are being formed and one can only hope that the urban drift will also be minimised to ease pressure on the few housing units in urban centres," he said

According to Mr Mulenga, whereas commercial centres are growing in number, the houses are not growing fast enough.

The housing problem in Zambia is being compounded by failure by Zambians to access mortgage home loans.

"Low incomes are a source of failure for many Zambians accessing mortgages whose interest rates are still as high as ordinary loans," he said.

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