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New Zealand’s affordable housing scheme falls short of targets

A government-supported programme to promote home ownership among New Zealanders has missed bold targets.

According to reports,  only 10,355 homes have been contracted to be built under the KiwiBuild scheme — or just a tenth of the 100,000 units targeted for completion by 2028.

The Kiwi government has already lowered its first-year goal of completing 1,000 homes to a third of that and scrapped the three-year target of 10,000 units. Fewer than half of the 62 completed units have been sold so far, RNZ reported.

Eligible buyers of KiwiBuild properties are limited to aspiring first homeowner-occupiers who are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

However, KiwiBuild is only eight months into a 10-year programme and “thousands more homes” are currently being negotiated, stressed Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford in a statement.

“The government is beavering away behind the scenes to improve the KiwiBuild programme for both first home buyers and developers, and we’ll have more to say on this soon,” he said.

“[Twyford] promised big, he didn’t quite work out how he was going to do it, and now he’s got a situation where it doesn’t matter how many developers he signs up to build houses for him, he’s got no guarantee people want to buy what he’s building,” Judith Collins, National Party spokesperson for Housing and Urban Development and a vocal critic of the scheme, was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Nigel Mckenna from Development Advisory Services chalked up the shortfall in completions to capacity constraints in infrastructure, land, resources, and finance. “ I think the target will, ultimately over time, be revised downwards slightly,” Mckenna said.

Leonie Freeman, chief executive of the Property Council, imputed the deficit in completions to unrealistic targets in the first place. “Some of those initial goals of 1,000 [homes] in 12 months might have been a bit unrealistic,” she said.

“But we need to see it as a great big funnel and as we resolve a lot of the barriers and the blockages, these numbers will scale up.”

Source: Property Guru

Boosting capacity of real estate artisans

Over the years, Nigerian artisans have demonstrated high level of professional incompetence over the years compared to their counterparts from some West African and Asian countries, including Ghana, Benin Republic ,Togo, China and India.
Lack of capacity in terms of quality of jobs they churn out has become the weak point that has not only put their jobs on the line but led led to foreign artisans virtually taking over jobs, hitherto, done by Nigerians.
This has in turn worsened the unemployment situation in the country.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s unemployment rate worsened in the third quarter of 2018, rising from 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.
It has also been estimated that far more than N10 billion is being lost annually to immigrant artisans, who have displaced Nigerians in construction sector.
To halt this trend, the Nigerian government has taken it upon itself to boost the capacity of local artisans in order to make them relevant and competitive for jobs in the construction industry.

Latest efforts
Blazing the trail is the Lagos State Government in collaboration with stakeholders in the industry to build the capacity of artisans for the construction sector under the Master Craftsman Project.
Having graduated 170 artisans in the first batch, the state government has rolled out another set of 350 trained personnel.
The Master Craftsman Project is aimed at addressing skill gap in housing sector in Lagos State.
Explaining the rationale behind the project, the Commissioner for Housing, Prince Gbolahan Lawal, said the scheme was aimed at scaling up professionalism of artisans in the state in order to meet up with current global trends.


Lawal said that the platform created an opportunity for artisans and workers in the construction industry to receive certificates after being trained to acquire 21st Century skills.
According to him, issues of quackery, quality of service, inappropriate charges, and unethical conduct leading to building collapse were considered and built into the curriculum to produce world class artisans.

Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s office, Mrs Yetunde Odejayi, who represented Dr. Oluranti Adebule, said that government had the vision of training 4,000 artisans. She disclosed that the state government was involved in PPP on affordable housing development, where 20,000 units are ongoing already. Through the project, she said that 60,000 bricklayers, 40,000 masons, 20,000 carpenters, 20,000 plumbers, 60,000 tilers, 40,000 painters would be required. Artisans to be engaged in the project, she assured, would come from the trained craftmen and women. According to the deputy governor, the Master Craftsman Project is an initiative of the state government to bridge the skills gap, in order to prevent foreigners from taking over jobs of technicians in the built industry.
Adebule stated that government was “determined to reverse the trend’’ of influx of foreign artisans, to ensure local artisans take back their pride of place in the built industry.

Beneficiaries’ views
Speaking with New Telegraph, one of the trainees, Mrs Folasayo Anjorin, a welder, said her skills on welding had been sharpened through the training programme.
Another trainee, Olubunmi Erinle, promised to make use of everything she learnt during the course of the training, appealing to government to give them jobs now that the training has ended.
Another participant, Mr. Orire james, a carpenter, said he had learnt more about the dictates of his job through the training.
He said: “They trained us very well and updated our knowledge about the latest innovations in the industry for about three to four weeks. We really gained a lot and this will really impact positively on our jobs.”
One of the tutors and retired lecturer at Yaba College of Education, Suraj Kolawole, said the artisans were taught many things that have to do with their jobs.
“We taught them most of the things they lost in the course of the job such as estimation, procedures, dealing with clients, team work, reality of the job they want to do and the risks involved,” the tutor said.
At the end of the programme, Kolawole said the trainees were asked to execute a project with the training centre. He said: “ We believed that these people would be able to achieve delivery of quality buildings.” Through the training, he said the nation would be able to reduce the number of foreign artisans and also boost morale of workers, adding that it would also prevent failure in building.

Federal level
At the federal level, Director General, C-STEmp Construction Skills Training and Empowerment Project Limited, Anthony Okwa, told New Telegraph that about 6,000 artisans had been trained directly, while more than 24,000 have been facilitated. He stated that the training programmes for the artisans in the construction industry have been going on very well especially with the recent support from the Presidency through the Npower Build Program involving the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), which has encouraged more school leavers and girls to participate.

Okwa stated that the Npower job creation programme of the Buhari administration was being delivered in about 400 centers across the country under the auspices of Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) with his agency’s active support. He disclosed that the agency through the training was trying to change the attitude and disposition of beneficiaries, and current low regard for artisans. To this end, he said the agency had instituted artisans awards “which aims at according them due recognition and rewarding excellence.” On the prospects of artisans after the training, Okwa said: “In all spheres of human endeavor, Nigerians have been known to excel, and with the training gaining international attention, we are beginning to receive enquiries for supply of Artisans to employers from outside the country.”

Expert’s view
President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Kenneth Nduka, said since technology has ever been dynamic, it would amount begging the question “if one accepts the current quality of artisans as being satisfactory.”
He warned that the present situation where foreign artisans dominated Nigeria’s construction sector spelt doom for the economy.
According to him, the implications meant loss of jobs for Nigeria’s nationals and loss of revenue through capital flights. Besides, he said other implications included security challenges, near absence of indigenous capacity to deliver on projects, and dependence on foreign dictates for the implementation of infrastructural development initiatives.


On what must be done to change the narrative, the NIOB president stated that it would require responsive investments on all diverse human capacity and skills development initiatives.
Aside, he said it would involve the creation of motivating opportunities and convenient inclusive environment that will serve the desired stimulus for constructive engagements and deployment.
Nduka stated that funds in terms of transferred earnings that should have otherwise been invested in Nigeria, as well as the multiplier economic opportunities that would attract values to the GDP of the country, were being lost as capital flight to foreign countries.
He disclosed that NIOB had collaborated with Nigerian Board of Technical Education (NBTE) and CORBON to establish the National Occupation Standards for relevant skills for the building industry.
He said: “NIOB having been granted an awarding body status by the Federal Ministry of Education,through the NBTE, is currently on a country wide quality assessment exercise to evaluate all the N-Power build artisans.
“Registration of training centers for Building construction skills are on going. Above all the institute is mobilizing and encouragng her members nationwide to key into the training for Quality Assurance Assessors currency being driven the National Board for Technical Education so that the objectives for quality skills standardisation in the building construction Industry could rightly realised.” Quality craftsmen in any nation, Nduka said, guaranteed safe built environment, populated with cost effective, quality radiating, image enhancing, productivity promoting, elements protecting, secure, aesthetic and needs satisfying building infrastructures.


“Above all, the political, economic and social potentials of the country would enjoy a positive boost since the skill we have could massage our infrastructure development strides and accordingly excited diverse opportunities for developments and growth maximisation,” he said.
Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Rotimi Ogunleye, urged the grandaunts to uphold construction ethics to stem incidence of building collapse.

Last line
Through training and retraining programmes, Nigerian artisans in the construction sector stand the chance of competing very well, if not better, with their counterparts all over the world.

Source: NewTelegraph

This Is How China Was Able to Build the World’s First Subterranean Hotel

The quarry was one of a handful in the Songjiang suburb of Shanghai that operated through the 1950s but has been abandoned ever since.

“The site was really a scar on the surface of the earth,” said Martin Jochman of JADE+QA architects at a press conference.

“We showed how to take a difficult and unusual site that nobody knew what to do with and make it useful again, revitalizing it with a new life.” Jochman and his firm designed the $300 million project, which is InterContinental Hotels Group’s 200th property globally.

“Originally we were given absolutely no limitations on how to approach the design. The brief was really about producing a resort which used the quarry as best as it could,” said Jochman. “

The inspiration for all this was the natural environment itself. It was the quarry, the cliffs, the green hills around it, the lake—despite it being an industrial site surrounded by industrial buildings, it was very pretty.”

He decided to distill these natural elements into the basis of his design: The cliff became the body of the hotel, where the guest rooms are located, the water became the faux waterfall down the center of the building that houses the elevators, and the hills are represented by the green roof of the structure, which was designed not only to blend into the landscape but also to provide energy-efficient temperature regulation.

“Sustainability was an important part of the whole design process—using passive sustainability that was built into the building by design,” noted Jochman, who worked within the microclimate of the quarry to maximize efficiency.

The location of the hotel within the site, for instance, was chosen to provide the most sunlight, not only for guest rooms but also for the hotel’s solar panels.

The hotel also uses the natural air shaft between its structure and the cliff wall for insulation in the winter and cooling in the summer.

While the architect was given no design restrictions from hotel owner Shimao Group, Mother Nature had other plans in mind.

The engineering team had to face a number of challenges presented with a subterranean project: When concrete was sent down into the quarry via standard construction chutes, for instance, the materials separated and were unusable.

The team ended up patenting more 41 different engineering methods over the course of the build. As a result, it took more than 12 years for the hotel to be constructed, with its doors officially opening in November 2018.

While the hotel is now open to guests, new features, like a rock-climbing wall on the face of the quarry and a zip line over the lake, will be added in the months to come.

There’s a nightly light and water show projected onto the fountains in the lake that rivals anything you would see in Las Vegas.

“This building has become a landmark,” said Jochman. “Yet the landmark here is not something that sticks out, but something that fits in.”

Source: architectural digest

Are You Aware of These 6 Costs When Buying Property?

It is interesting to note how so many buyers and investors at large experience a total blackout when it comes to the transaction fees related to buying property. When you get to the point of buying a house, the devil is in the detail. You need to be aware of the amount of money you will spend throughout the entire buying process. Apart from the sale price, there are other real estate transaction fees you should keep in mind: mortgage fees, paying for a lawyer, and taxes related to property. Not forgetting to mention the hidden costs you might not be aware of.

These pointers will help you make the right decision when the time to buy a house comes. In turn, you will make the right investment decision knowingly. What fees should you keep in your mind when buying property in Kenya?

You Have to Get a Lawyer

The importance of getting a lawyer is like having oxygen: you can’t do without one. Lawyers in Kenya are regulated by an Act of Law known as the Advocates Remuneration Order. Sometimes, the fees that the lawyers charge are regulated by ethical principles and rules. The general rule of thumb is that the buyer will pay for these fees because the transaction benefits him. The Seller will also pay his Advocate such fees for representation, the initial due diligence process and drafting.

The percentage fees range from 1%-2% of the purchase price but the minimum payable is Kshs. 35,000. If the price on the purchase is low, the costs are higher. The converse is true; if the purchase amount is high, the costs will be low. You should note that it is illegal for your Advocate to charge you lower fees. Therefore, refrain from bargaining too much.

Who Does the Property Belong To?

Before you buy any property, you need to do a title search to know the rightful owner of the land. A title search will also help you know if the title has been charged, if it has a caveat or if there are any outstanding land rates to it. Performing a title search is a digital process offered by the government through the eCiziten platform. A title search costs Kshs. 500.

How Much Mortgage Will You Pay?

If you purchase property on mortgage, you will the capital with an interest rate capped at 14% p.a together with the ancillary costs which vary depending on the financier. You will pay evaluation costs which are approximately 0.2% of the assessment and 1% commitment fee to the bank. The duty payable for a mortgage is 0.1% of the mortgage amount.

Stamp All Your Documents

Once the Agreement for Sale is executed, the Seller’s Advocates will present it for stamping with duty at Kshs. 200/- for the original and Kshs. 20/- for each counterpart at the lands office. This fee is vital because in the event of a dispute, the court of law won’t accept any documents which haven’t been stamped.

Taxes Must Be Paid

Stamp Duty: In Kenya, this rate varies depending on the location of the property. Agricultural lands are charged 2% while land in urban areas is charged at 4%. If the property is registered as a company and the transfer is by way of shares rather than a title, then the stamp duty will be 1%. As a buyer, you will need an authorization slip from KRA to show that you have paid.

Capital Gains Tax: This is the final tax in the buying process which is usually at 5% of the value of the net gain. This is the excess amount of the transfer over the cost of the property which was adjusted.

Extra Costs Will Come Up

Depending on the firm and the development, other costs you will incur as a buyer include registration costs, valuation costs, proportionate cost of incorporation of the management company and the cost of transfer of reversionary interests.

More costs include electricity meter connection costs, water meter connection costs, purchaser’s share of reversionary transfer, cost of purchase of share in the management company, advance service charge which ranges from 3-6 months plus one (1) month’s service charge, secretarial charges and fees for filing return of allotments, notice of change of directors and Annual Returns.

Buying a house is a huge investment. You need to make sure that you follow each step correctly without any hiccups. Keeping these costs in mind will help you budget appropriately without denting your pocket.

Source: BuyRentKenya.com

Things to Avoid When Applying for a Mortgage

Before buying a home, you need to know how much you can actually spend during the entire process: paying for the house, downpayment, legal fees, valuation and any other costs that may arise during the entire process.

Most people will use the mortgage route when they decide to buy a house. It is no secret that the mortgage process is both daunting and stressful thanks to all the paperwork involved, and the time and money spent. You need to be extra patient throughout the approval journey in owning your dream home.

The good news is that, if you provide the lender with all the information they require and respond to their queries in a timely manner, you will reduce the pressure involved with getting a loan.

When you apply for a mortgage, you could be wondering why it is taking so long to be approved. Your paperwork seems fine to you, you feel like you have provided all the information they require. But you still feel like something is off. In reality, you could have sabotaged yourself by doing certain things that you were not aware would impact the process negatively. Below are some mortgage application mistakes that could cripple the entire process.

1. Job Instability

Losing your job or getting a pay cut is beyond your control. Having a major career change could affect your chances of being considered for a loan during the underwriting process. If you are in a position to postpone a job switch, hold it off until you receive the financing, unless you are getting a huge pay rise.

A mortgage lender will look at your employment history before they can give you a loan. They need to know that you are in a position to pay off your debt from having a steady income. Usually, a general rule for the minimum number of years you should have worked to qualify for a mortgage is 2 years. This is not to mean that if you have other sources of income, like entrepreneurship, you will not qualify. That is a conversation that you and your lender should discuss your options freely.

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2. Using all Your Savings

You can’t ignore the costs involved when getting a mortgage. Legal fees, valuation, appraisal, registration, are some of the things you need to pay for. This could easily end up leaving you broke with no extra cash in your bank account. Lenders will want to see that you have stored some money to show that you are in a position to repay off the loan. Otherwise, they will regard you as a high-risk borrower and lower your chances of approval. You will also need to budget for more hidden costs when buying a house.

Depending on which financial institution is giving you the loan, the downpayment price will range between 5% and 20%. The higher the downpayment, the less mortgage you pay off.

3. Taking Smaller Loans

You’d never think that a personal or student loan can affect your chances of getting a mortgage to buy your first house. Well, it does. During the prequalification phase, lenders will look at all the debt you have.

If you have any pending loans, make sure you clear them off in good time before you apply for a mortgage. If possible, avoid taking any loans whether big or small. It will just mean that you have more debt that you haven’t cleared.

4. Low Credit Score

Your credit score will determine your risk level as a borrower. To find out your score, there are different companies in Kenya that can provide you with a detailed report. If you’re in the habit of taking loans from mobile lending companies no matter how small, make a point of paying it off before approaching a mortgage lender.

In some cases, you will find errors on the report. People have been accused of taking loans from certain companies when they never did in the first place. In the event that you do realize this, dispute the matter and resolve it as soon as possible. One late payment to a short term loan can play a huge role in getting approval.

5. Impulse Buying

Once your loan is approved, this is not the time to go all out and start buying things to fill up your house. The lender will still monitor how you spend money even before they write you the cheque. Taking on more debt before the money hits your account will affect your chances of getting the mortgage approved. Lenders will ask for your bank statements to check your spending habits. If they see you’re spending money aimlessly, they could deny you the mortgage.

When you think about it, these mistakes that people make prior to applying for a mortgage don’t look like big problems, however, they could be the reason why you don’t achieve your dream of owning a home.

source: BuyRentKenya.com

3,600 flats to hit Hong Kong market this year under Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme

More than 3,600 government-subsidised flats will go on the market this year for sale to public housing tenants, under two new projects on Hong Kong Island and in the New Territories.

It will be the first time the Housing Authority, Hong Kong’s main provider of public sector flats, will sell its smallest “nano-sized” flats, at 152 sq ft, under this subsidised homes scheme.

The authority said on Wednesday that two sites originally earmarked for rental homes would be converted into space for 828 subsidised flats in Chai Wan and 2,868 in Tsing Yi.

Subsidised homes often divert land away from public rental housing. An authority spokesman on Wednesday said the GSH would be implemented at a more modest pace to lower the impact on waiting times, as it takes time to renovate the vacated flats and allocate them to those in the queue.

Families have been on hold for a flat for an average of more than five and a half years.

The Tsing Yi development will offer flats between 153 and 389 sq ft in two 40-storey buildings. This project will include a two-storey retail complex, an elderly care centre, childcare facility, kindergarten and support service centre for people with severe physical disabilities.

Flat sizes of 152 sq ft are the authority’s smallest sized homes, designed for one to two people. According to the authority’s guidelines, each tenant is required to have at least 75 sq ft of internal floor space in public rental housing.

Micro flats are generally those with layouts of less than 200 sq ft, according to property agency JLL. They have been on the rise in private developments in recent years as they were meant to appeal to the average buyer desperate to get a foot on the property ladder but priced out of anything with more living space.

In response to media inquiries, a Housing Authority spokesman said in a statement on Thursday that the size and design of the new flats were the same as established designs for other public rental housing projects.

“There are no grounds to suggest that other types of residential flats smaller than the standard PRH flats are introduced specifically for GSH projects,” the spokesman said.

Citing some media reports that raised concerns such small flats would not be popular among buyers, the spokesman said the Authority believed they would make “prudent decisions based on their own situation”. He added that any flats not sold in the first round could be offered on the market again at other times.

Source: Naomi NG (scmp.com)

Even the resilient luxury housing segment is not immune to Sweden’s property downturn

Residential skyscrapers are rare in Stockholm, a city permeated by five-storey, classic stone buildings built at the turn of the last century.

That’s now changing. The most spectacular addition to the skyline is nearing completion: A 125-metre, brutalist structure that could be mistaken for a tower of Lego blocks.

Innovationen offers panorama windows and balconies overlooking the red, yellow and orange facades of the Vasastan neighbourhood. The apartments cost a hefty 100,000 kronor (US$11,000) a square metre and residents get access to a private cinema and a gym with a sauna and yoga room, raising eyebrows in egalitarian Sweden.

“It’s the first time anyone has dared to do anything like this in Sweden,” said Herman Persson, head of design at Oscar Properties, the tower’s developer.

And that’s just half of it. Across the street, Oscar Properties is erecting a twin skyscraper named Helix.

The Swedish developer Oscar Properties is constructing the Innovationen tower in Stockholm, where apartments cost 100,000 kronor a square metre.

But that’s where the trouble starts. Oscar Properties still has one-third of the apartments left unsold with only a year left until Helix is completed. The housing market has been struggling since a major slump at the end of 2017 and prices for new homes have continued falling.

With many property developers struggling, buyers are even questioning if they are going to get anything at all. Bankruptcies are up 24 per cent so far this year in Stockholm, of which a fifth are in companies linked to the housing market.

Oscar Properties issued a profit warning last month, shaving off a quarter of the company’s market value.

The troubles in Sweden’s housing market are also raising warning flags for the broader economy. Above, a view from Gotgartan looking north in Stockholm.

The company has dropped some residential projects, turned others into office buildings and also intends to diversify its portfolio with rental projects and more affordable housing in fast growing cities around Sweden.

The business model of selling apartments under construction and booking profits along the way before a project is finished is now grinding to halt. Both the stock exchange and the financial watchdog are now scrutinising developers over their calculations.

But the plunge in prices has killed the speculative end of the market, which has opened up for some buyers.

Andra Farhad, chief executive officer of stock trading platform Borshajen, in 2018 bought a flat on the 12th floor in Innovationen, but only after waiting for a year to see if the project would actually be completed. Farhad bought her apartment from someone who was selling at a loss before it was completed.

“I knew I wanted to live in this building, I love it, but I was a bit cautious,” she said. “The housing market has become tougher and things are looking a bit shaky for Oscar Properties.”

The go-go days when the company was handing out snacks to people lining up for apartment showings are now over. Still, it has no doubt that it will complete Helix, according to spokeswoman Monica Nygren. “But considering what the housing market looks like now, the sale of apartments takes longer,” she said.

Sandra Miller Kinge, CEO of Eklund Stockholm New York, a high-end broker, agrees, but is also cautious.

“We have no major problems selling new production compared to other apartments, but are also very careful to work closely with the builders to ensure that they have a safe and good offer,” she said.

The troubles are also raising warning flags for the broader economy. The booming housing market has been a key component of the fast growth in recent years, but is now emerging as one of its greatest risk. Some economists see construction dropping 30 per cent from 2017 to the end of this year, taking a significant bite out of economic growth.

One way to salvage projects that are foundering could be to offer more rental housing. Fast population growth and record immigration over the past years mean that there are housing shortages in many areas. A recent political deal is also freeing up rent-setting for new housing.

Skanska, the international construction giant, last month cut its outlook for the Swedish housing market and is refocusing more on rental housing and lower-priced apartments.

“I don’t believe in a dramatic downturn, but I don’t believe in a recovery either,” Anders Danielsson, its CEO, said by phone. “Too much has been built in the most expensive price segments, especially in Stockholm and the big cities.”

Michael Grahn, chief economist in Stockholm at Danske Bank, predicts home prices have further to fall, which will kill more projects and may possible mean the end of some of the smaller developers.

“Producers have been building too expensive homes during a number of years when people were willing to pay no matter what,” he said. “That time is over, they will struggle to sell those expensive homes.”

www.scmp.com

More Support For Rental Flat Dwellers To Become Homeowners

The new Homeownership Support Team will assist tenants in handling homeownership policies and processes.

Households living in HDB rental flats can look forward to getting stronger and personalised support from the Housing Board, which plans to create a team dedicated to helping such families become homeowners, reported Channel NewsAsia.

“We agree that public rental should only be temporary for tenants who are work-capable.” Hence, the government is increasing support to help tenants become homeowners, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling on Tuesday (5 Mar).

To be established later this year, the Homeownership Support Team (HST) will assist tenants in handling homeownership policies and processes. The help on offer may include guiding them through the transaction, help in choosing a home that can meet their budget and needs, as well as monitoring cases to ensure households get their keys.

The support team aims to help 1,000 families in the next four to five years, said a HDB representative, adding that the agency currently counsels tenants to consider buying a flat instead of renting one when they renew their tenancy.

Moreover, Sun revealed that HDB gained a “better understanding” on how to provide better assistance to tenants thanks to the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, whereby families can obtain a grant of up to $35,000. Implemented in 2016, this programme assists second-timer rental families with kids purchase a two-room flat.

“We have learnt that having someone to consult, and more importantly, to provide the human touch, is important for our tenants.”

For example, some families needed advice on budgeting to be able to buy a flat, while others said they were grateful for the face-to-face support provided by the Fresh Start team.

In February, Sun noted that 74 families enrolled in the scheme, of which five have already collected the keys to their flats.

“These numbers may seem small, but for those who benefit from the scheme, the help provided means a lot and we want them to succeed in their home ownership journey,” she explained.

Sun added that the number of rental households moving up the property ladder has increased steadily over the last few years, with around 1,300 rental households successfully levelling up to homeownership in 2018.

Singapore’s investors pumped $29.4 bil into offshore real estate in 2018

Singapore-based investors were Asia’s most active group of offshore real estate investors in 2018, contributing US$21.6 billion ($29.4 billion) of the region’s total outbound investment, according to a report by CBRE on March 7.
“Driven by limited opportunities and compressed yields in the domestic market, Singapore investors will continue to seek enhanced yields offshore to diversify their portfolios and achieve more sustainable growth,” says Yvonne Siew, executive director of global capital markets for Asia-Pacific, CBRE.
Singapore-based capital contributed to 40% of Asia’s total outbound investment in 2018, which fell by 36% y-o-y to US$53.8 billion. The decline stemmed from Chinese investors who deployed US$7.5 billion in capital to offshore real estate investments, compared to US$35.4 billion in 2017.
Chinese investors are rebalancing their real estate portfolios and transitioning into net sellers of real estate to strengthen balance sheets and recycle capital for deployment into future outbound investments, says CBRE.
Investors from Malaysia and India also injected more capital overseas, increasingly their total capital investments in 2018 by 132% y-o-y and 291% y-o-y respectively, while Korean investors allocated capital worth US$7.3 billion, compared to US$6.3 billion in 2017.
“The Asian outbound investment story in 2018 was, on the one hand, characterised by a clear moderation from China, but on the other hand, represented cyclical portfolio rebalancing and strategically preparation for future activity,” says Leo Chung, associate director of research at Asia Pacific, CBRE. “The pull-back from China’s investors was not entirely unexpected but encouragingly created opportunities for new strategic investors to amplify offshore investment activities.”
London remained the top destination for Asian capital, and investors from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea accounted for over 85% of investment activities in the metropolis last year. About 18% of total Asian outbound capital was deployed to London in 2018, compared to 13% in 2017. At the same time, 9% went to Hong Kong, 9% to Shanghai, and 4% went to Frankfurt real estate investments.
Source: Timothy Tay (Edgeprop.sg)

A global crowdfunding aimed to give Addis Ababa a green facelift

Prime minister Abiy Ahmed has launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at making the capital a site for urban tourism by developing greener spaces along a 56-kilometer river stream.

Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is about to get cleaner and greener. But first, it needs your money.

Dubbed “Dine for Sheger”—’Sheger’ is a moniker for Addis Ababa — the three-year initiative is targeting individuals, local and global businesses, international organizations, and members of the diplomatic corps.

The project will also help mitigate against the flooding at the riverbanks, create bicycle paths and walkways, and nurture a green economy that would make the city more competitive, according to Quartz Africa.

To kickstart the project, Abiy’s office will hold a dinner at a cost of 5 million birr per plate—or $175,000. The premier’s office promises anyone who donates will have a plaque with their name placed along the river routes besides scoring a private photo-op with Abiy himself.

The event is symbolic of the many ways Abiy, who rose to power a year ago, is trying to change Ethiopia’s strategic importance both globally and in the Horn of Africa. The choice of Addis Ababa is also critical, given how much the federal capital was at the heart of the anti-government protests that eventually led to the resignation of ex-PM Hailemariam Desalegn and launched Abiy to power. Since taking the mantle, the 42-year-old has preached the philosophy of “medemer,” or unity, in contrast to the ethnic compartmentalization that has plagued the Horn of African nation for decades.

Yet for all the optimism his leadership has inspired, Abiy knows his administration has to institute reforms that would create more opportunities for its 100-million population. The prime minister has so far embarked on opening up key state-controlled sectors like aviation and telecom, promising to streamline banking regulations, increasing agricultural and manufacturing productivity, and boosting domestic and foreign investment.

Abiy has also helped establish the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund, an independent outfit meant to crowdfund among Ethiopia’s over 3-million strong diaspora population. The fund’s website notes they have so far collected over $2.4 million in donations from as little as $30.

The green initiative could prove transformative for Addis Ababa, one of Africa’s largest and storied cities. The city has a huge diplomatic presence and is home to both the headquarters of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The efforts to transform Ethiopia’s capital also comes as cities like Kigali and Johannesburg move to create jobs and reduce the effects of climate change by developing greener and smarter cities.

Jonathan Tadese, a US-based Ethiopian strategy consultant says “a lot of organizations and individuals would be interested” given the kind of opportunities it will open up for the city and its people at this crucial juncture. So far, Abiy’s plan has found a hearty supporter: during a visit this past weekend, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenyan companies will contribute to the “Dine for Sheger” fundraiser.

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