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Families Living in Tree Huts as New Zealand Housing Crisis Bites

A 30% rise in people waiting for state housing in Northland region fuels country’s ‘desperate’ shortage in affordable homes

New Zealand government MPs have heard that the housing situation in Northland has become so desperate some families are living in the woods, in huts built in the forks of trees.

Northland is one of the most deprived regions of the country, with a median income of NZ$23,400. The population is also 32% Māori – double that of the rest of the country.

At a housing hui (meeting) held in Whangarei on Thursday, the Māori affairs minister, Nanaia Mahuta, who is also associate minister of housing, was told by local housing advocates that the shortage of affordable housing had become “desperate” in the north island region, with families forced to live in trees, self-built huts, old vehicles, lean-tos, derelict houses and carports.

Mahuta acknowledged the housing situation had become a “crisis”, especially for Māori, saying there had been a 30% increase in Northland for those on the waiting list for a state house in the past year.

Having a home was a pillar of whanau (family) prosperity and wellbeing, the minister said in her address to the hui.

“Many people in Northland are facing significant housing challenges – from people who are homeless, people living in their cars or in the outdoors – through to people who do have a house but it’s cold and damp or overcrowded, through to young families struggling to find a place to rent or to save a deposit,” Mahuta said.

“It has taken us a long time to get to the point we are at with Māori housing. It will not be a short journey to change the course of the past.”

But while the government says building housing in Northland is a “priority”, locals on the ground feel they are being ignored.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m just one social worker on the end of the phone with many others trying to get through a gateway that’s impossible,” Te Hā Oranga social worker Christiane Rudolph-Anania told the hui, as reported by RNZ. “And when I say gateway, I’m talking Housing New Zealand, MSD [ministry of social development]. There seems to be no empathy.”

Northland is New Zealand’s fastest growing province. Contributing to last year’s 2.3% population growth were Aucklanders fleeing unaffordable housing in the country’s biggest city, and instead choosing to buy in Northland and commute to the city.

This meant that for Northland locals, buying or even renting a home was becoming harder by the month.

Towns such as Kawakawa and Kaikohe, once neglected rural enclaves tainted by long associations with poverty and gangs, are now experiencing significant property booms, putting homes out of reach for Māori families who have lived in the area for generations.

Last year Kawakawa’s median house price rose 39%, peaking at NZ$280,000, when it was just $127,000 three years ago.

Māori elders say many young Māori are also returning to the region, adding further pressure to housing stock, after becoming disillusioned with how tough life is becoming in New Zealand cities.

Northland’s population boom is having a knock-on effect in other areas too, with many new residents having to wait a month or more for a GP appointment, and school enrolments up 10%.

Source: theguardian

Housing Coalition Urges for VAT Cut to Encourage Green Home Improvements

Organisations from across the property and construction sectors are campaigning for the next UK government to cut VAT on maintenance and improvement works to people’s homes.

The groups said reducing VAT from 20% to 5% on home improvement works would unleash investment in housing, stimulate the economy and enable the UK’s transition to net zero carbon.

The groups include the Federation of Master Builders and the British Property Federation.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Reducing the rate of VAT on all repairs, maintenance and management of residential property would support the greening and improvement of our housing stock, and help the build to rent sector deliver more homes.

“We therefore urge the next Government to support the Cut the VAT campaign.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The four main parties must go further in their policy pledges to promote and incentivise energy efficiency works.

“Given that homeowners tend to complete these tasks as a consequence of larger home improvement works the rate of VAT on repair and maintenance work needs to be reduced from the current 20% to 5%.”

Organisations signing the letter to Westminster Party leaders are: Bathroom Manufacturers Association, British Blind and Shutter Association, British Property Federation, British Woodworking Federation, Builders Merchants Federation, CPRE The Countryside Charity, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Chartered Institute of Building, Country Land and Business Association, Countryside Alliance, Electrical Contractors’ Association, Federation of Master Builders, The Heritage Alliance, HomeOwners Alliance, Insulation Manufacturers Association, National Federation of Builders, National Home Improvement Council, National Landlords Association, Roof Tile Association, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Scottish Building Federation, UK Green Building Council, The VAT Consultancy

Source: propertywire

Kuwait City Named World’s Worst City for Expats to Live, Work

Expat City Ranking 2019 by InterNations ranks other Gulf cities in top half of list, with Abu Dhabi leading the way in 15th place

Kuwait City’s worst performing area is the Getting Settled Index with almost three in five respondents (57 percent) feeling that the local residents are unfriendly towards foreigners (v 19 percent globally).

The unhappiest expats in the world can be found in Kuwait City, it was revealed on Tuesday.

The Expat City Ranking 2019 by InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with more than 3.5 million members, showed that four Asian cities – Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore – were the best cities to live as an expat in a new list comparing a total of 82 cities.

On the other hand, Kuwait City was ranked bottom of the list while Rome (81st) and Milan (80th), Lagos, Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Lima, New York City and Yangon, Myanmar also featured in the bottom 10 cities worldwide.

Abu Dhabi (15th), Manama (21st), Muscat (28th) and Dubai (34th) ranked top to midfield in the rankings.

Barring Kuwait City, the cities are among the top 25 worldwide for getting settled, and expats generally value the safety as well as the availability and affordability of housing.

However, the lack of a good work life is a prominent weakness for the cities in the GCC states, the report said.

In contrast to the other cities in the GCC States, Kuwait City’s worst performing area is the Getting Settled Index (82nd). Almost three in five respondents (57 percent) feel that the local residents are unfriendly towards foreigners (v 19 percent globally).

Kuwait City, like most other GCC cities, also does badly in the Quality of Urban Living Index, ranking 81st, ahead of only Lagos, Nigeria.

It is the world’s worst-rated  city for leisure activities and for the local climate and weather while more than three in five expats are also dissatisfied with the local transportation and Kuwait City has the worst-rated quality of environment.

Another weakness of Kuwait City is its work life, for which it ranks 79th worldwide, ahead of only Istanbul, Athens and Rome. Over a third of expats say they are dissatisfied with their job in general (v 19 percent globally), and two in five are unhappy with the local career opportunities.

Kuwait City also has the worst-rated work-life balance worldwide, with 38 percent of expats rating this factor negatively.

The report said the drawbacks to Dubai mainly come from its poor work life (71st). Less than half the expats say they are happy with their work-life balance (v 60 percent globally) and only 45 percent feel secure in their job (v 59 percent globally).

While Abu Dhabi ranked well in most areas surveyed, the UAE capital also ranked in the bottom 10 for job security (73rd), with 30 percent of expats worrying about this.

After ranking in the top 3 for two years in a row, Manama fell to 21st in the Expat City Ranking 2019, losing the most ground in the Urban Work Life Index as only 63 percent say they are generally happy with their jobs while also being less satisfied with their working hours.

Muscat fell from the top 10 to rank 28th, in large part due to a decline in its performance in the Finance subcategory. Just 44 percent of expats say they feel their disposable household income is more than they need to cover their daily costs in 2019, compared to 62 percent in 2018.

Source: arabianbusiness

Sanwo-Olu: We’ll Improve Infrastructure for Business

• Switzerland envoy visits governor

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has assured the business community that the government will improve infrastructure communities around industrial zones.

He said amenities that would enhance business growth would be put in place.

Sanwo-Olu spoke yesterday at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja during a visit by Switzerland Ambassador George Steiner and board members of the Swiss-Nigeria Business Council.

He said his government would build up the relationship between the state and Swiss companies, adding that he hoped to make the state a last destination for Swiss businesses.

The governor said: “I believe your trip will further reinforce and signpost to other companies that we are ready and we can collaborate for good. One of the things we are doing is to make the business environment in Lagos accessible.

“Something we’re continuously talking about is that we can make doing business here a lot better.
“We are building transportation, building infrastructure and reinforcing our security agencies to ensure Lagos is secure for all of us.

“We want to reassure you that our administration looks forward to opportunities that will foster our relationship with Swiss companies. We want to see how we can grow the number of Swiss companies in Lagos and make the state a destination of choice for them. Lagos is ready for Switzerland.”

Steiner thanked Sanwo-Olu for committing time and effort to make the Lagos business environment firm and attractive to foreign and local business owners.

He emphasised on the importance of Lagos market to Switzerland, stressing that “we are making efforts to expand our presence for the benefit of Lagosians.”

Steiner said: “I believe we have an excellent relationship with this country, Lagos, most of all. We will like to create wealth for the benefit of Swiss companies and of course, the benefit of a greater Lagos. Lagos especially is an important market for us.

“In view of strengthening our presence, we set up a Swiss-Nigeria Business Council in 2017. My visit to Mr. Governor is a strong sign to determine to do more for Swiss companies and most importantly, Lagos.”
Also present during the visit were Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat, Consul-General of Switzerland and some members of the Executive Council of Lagos State.

Source: thenationonlineng

Builders Are Coming to the Housing Market’s Rescue

Single-family housing starts expected to break 1 million for the first time since 2007

A housing market stymied by supply shortages will get relief next year from homebuilders, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Single-family housing starts likely will total 1 million in 2020, the highest since 2007, the trade group said in a forecast on Wednesday. That was the year prior to the housing market meltdown that spurred a global financial rout.

Single-family housing starts averaged 1.1 million annually between 1958, when the total was 1.23 million, to 2007, when it was 1.05 million, according to government data. Home construction typically leads the U.S. economy out of recession, but this past recovery was different.

“This housing cycle is definitely unique in the sense that it’s been a decade and we’re not back to normal in terms of home building,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Many small-time builders are still out of the game. It was small-time builders in the aggregate that built many more homes than the big builders, and they’ve hesitated to get back in, even though it appears there is a money-making opportunity.”

Yun predicts the median U.S. price for a new home will drop 4% to $313,500 in 2019 and remain almost flat in 2020, rising just 0.02% to $314,200. Existing home medians will climb 4.3% in 2019 and 3.6% in 2020, the NAR forecast said.

While price declines wouldn’t be seen as a positive in the existing-home market, they can be good in the new-home segment if caused by a shift toward building smaller, more affordable houses. Yun said that’s what he thinks is happening.

Pending home sales fell 1.7% in October after two months of gains because of a shortage of entry-level properties on the market, NAR said last week.

“All the factors that contribute to higher home sales like the job situation are terrific, and of course mortgage rates are critical to buying a home and those are favorable,” Yun said.

“All the factors are lined up in a way that means we should be having gangbuster homes sales,” if not for the inventory shortage at the lower end of the market, he said.

The so-called “months supply” of properties on the market, measuring the amount of time it would take to sell off existing inventory, fell to 3.9 in October, Yun said. That matched the October 2017 reading that was the lowest level since the data series began in 1999, he said.

In one sign that builders are beginning to construct more entry-level homes, the share of new-home mortgage financing backed by the Federal Housing Administration rose to 19% in 2019’s second quarter, a six-year high, according to Commerce Department data. FHA loans typically require smaller down payments and are often used by first-time buyers.

The median price for a new home gained 47% between 2010 and 2018 as builders catered to move-up buyers looking for bigger homes with luxury finishes. That put the median U.S. price of a new house in 2018 at $326,400, 26% above the $259,300 median price for an existing home.

Source: housingwire

Millions of Nigerians Will not have Access to their Bank Accounts from January 2nd 2020, Read why!

Nigerians are in for a shock as the Finance Bill currently passed by National Assembly has amended sections 33, 49 & 58 of the Personal Income Tax Act. Thus, individuals are required to produce their Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) before they can operate existing or new bank accounts in Nigeria.

What this means is that, if you don’t have TIN, you will not be able to operate your bank account. This may come as shock to many, but the important thing to do at this point is to ensure you have a TIN as the date for implementation has been set for 2nd of January 2020. The minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, made this known to the public.

If you run a registered business and have dealings with government, there is a likelihood you already have your TIN, so you should not have issues. The idea of this new law is to get more Nigerians into the tax net.

Obtaining TIN is FREE of charge, you should not pay for it. Also there are no age limits in having TIN as teenagers are obliged to pay Tax if they receive income from a company. The only exemptions are on certain thresholds of income.

If you want to verify your TIN or to know if you have one, you can go to the Joint Tax Board website. https://tinverification.jtb.gov.ng

Or Federal Inland Revenue Website https://apps.firs.gov.ng/tinverification/

If you don’t have your TIN, i will be posting on how to easily get your TIN, follow my page so you don’t miss the post.

Source: opr.news/

JUST IN: Sanwo-Olu names Onikan Stadium After Mobolaji Johnson

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has named the popular Onikan Stadium after the first Military Administrator of the state, Brigadier Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson.

Sanwo-Olu made this known on Tuesday at the Day of Tribute for the late Johnson at the newly reconstructed Onikan Stadium.

According to the governor, the stadium would now be known as ‘Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson Stadium’ in honour of the late military administrator.

Sanwo-Olu had extolled the virtues of Johnson, describing him as a distinguished man and a great patriot and an accomplished administrator who re-engineered the modern Lagos.

He said Johnson, though a soldier, was never authoritarian and never ruled with an iron hand and that he ruled with a compassionate mind.

Sanwo-Olu further described him as a great man with many parts, saying that the scope of his accomplishment was great, adding that he was a quintessential manager of resources.

According to him, Johnson was a man with great foresight and a symbol of humility, fairness and justice and that he was in constant support of successive governments of Lagos State.

“He was always willing to offer the right counsel. He was a regular feature of most of the ground-breaking events in Lagos State. his indelible reward for service remained intact and without blame. The projects he executed are still visible today,” he said.

Earlier, former governor of the state Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had extolled the virtues of Johnson, describing him as a man of integrity.

Johnson was appointed as the military Administrator by the military Head of State Major Gen. Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi and later on as the governor of Lagos State by his successor Gen. Yakubu Gowon.

He was the Lagos governor between 1966 and 1975 when he was compulsorily retired by former Head of State Gen. Murtala Mohammed.

Johnson retired from the Nigerian Army in 1975 and went into private business, becoming a director with the construction giant Julius Berger.

Source: concisenews

ICRC Will Facilitate Funding of Regional Roads – Fashola

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, says the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission will facilitate funding of regional roads for the development of the West African Region.

Fashola made this known during a meeting with the representatives of the Commission led by its Director-General, Mr Chidi Izuwah, in Abuja.

In a statement by Mr Henry David, Senior Information Officer in the ministry, on Tuesday, the minister said the initiative was for the development of the West African regional transport and logistics infrastructure.

The minister said the collaboration would lead to the growth and prosperity of the region and establish a high-level partnership of mutual benefit.

Fashola was optimistic that the ICRC would come up with a think-tank for the implementation of resilient road infrastructure, funding and financing of roads.

He said it would also create opportunities to expand the West African Regional roads, rail corridor programme, and trade consultative discussions to boost the impact of transport infrastructure and enhance project delivery in rural roads.

“There is improved recognition for Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria as evidenced by the latest 2019 global ranking by the World Bank that ranked Nigeria as one of the 10 most improved countries on Ease of Doing Business.

“Government is determined to continually improve on the performance to encourage enterprise and productivity.

“Meanwhile, the government is deploying several incentives to encourage private sector participation in infrastructure development and one of them is the Tax Credit initiative.

“This initiative is already yielding positive impact in the construction of the Bonny Bridge by Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), the Apapa Oworonsoki Road in Lagos and Kabba Road in Kogi State by Dangote Group of Companies,’’ he said.

Fashola reiterated the government’s commitment to entrench Public Private Participation for speedy development of the nation’s infrastructure.

The minister commended the ICRC boss for his efforts toward increasing the infrastructure stock of the country through PPP.

He urged indigenous investors to optimise their participation.


National Engineering Conference Kicks-Off in Kano

The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) yesterday commenced its National Conference in Kano State. The five-day-long event holding at Afficent Event center in Kano, has the theme,“The Role of the Private Sector in Waste Management in Nigeria.”

The conference commenced with the 4th College of fellows roundtable symposium, where discussants from different parts of the country deliberated on waste management with a view to turning waste into wealth

During the technical session of the conference, experts in various fields of engineering delivered papers on waste management. Shortly after the opening ceremony, the National President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Engineer Adekunle O. Mokuolu ledother deginitaries to Wudil town in Wudil Local Government Area, where he inaugurated additional branch of the society. Daily Trust observed that with the inauguration of the additional branch, Kano now has three NSE branches in Kabuga, Kano and Wudil.

Over 5,000 engineers are expected to elect a new set of national executives that include president, deputy president, three vice presidents and six national exco to man the affairs of the society. While the election will hold on Thursday, a press conference would hold on Friday where the society would disclose its position on the conference and other issues affecting its members.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the National President of the society, Engineer Adekunle O. Mokuolu, said government must engage trained and certified engineers that can deliver professional proficiency in order to propel and accelerate growth and development in critical infrastructural sector of the country. Engr. Mokuolu, who expressed the determination of NSE in asserting its prowess in the body of knowledge and intellectuals, said Nigerian Engineers were major stakeholders in the development process and that they should be given their rightful place in governance.

He canvassed for a strategic collaboration between the federal government and NSE on the construction of affordable houses to check the growing housing deficit in the country, noting that NSE had presented its developmental roadmap to the federal government in an attempt to facilitate 100,000 jobs for Nigerians. “The conference will enable Engineers to formulate a procedure and process that will ensure the development of our country based on science and technology. We want to commence the domestication of development and with that we need to affirm that we are also major stakeholders in building the project, Nigeria. As such we don’t want to see people who are not professionals take our rightful place in government.

“President Buhari has mustered the vision to propose the policy of bringing 100,000 Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years and that cannot be actualized by foreigners, it has to be done by Nigerians. We are here to formulate the process that will complement the president’s vision. We would generate the platform for engagement for the development.

“Actualizing the agenda, we are going to develop strategic collaboration with the government. So, we are presenting our developmental roadmap to the government on how to engender developmental program in the country.

“We have started a process of providing affordable housing for Nigerians with electricity, water and all the conveniences. That initiative will provide jobs for teeming youths and local materials will be used as well. The mortgage infrastructure will be made attractive such that people with minimum wage will be able to afford,” he concluded.

Source: Dailytrustng

C-STEMP Set to Hold 2nd Construction Artisans Award in March 2020

As part of their commitment to quality craftsmanship, the construction industry is set to celebrate artisans who have made their marks in their various trades.
The Construction Artisans Awards 2019, which was conceived as part of a holistic strategy to generate excitement and interest in the construction trades is set to hold in Abuja in March 2020 showcasing over 15,000 artisans cutting across various trades.

According to Anthony Okwa, the award coordinator, because construction is still essentially a craft-based profession, they are partnering with various organizations to train artisans to inculcate in them skills that will ensure best practice, optimum output and quality in their works.

The C-STEMP Construction Skills Training and Empowerment project Ltd/Gtee in its bid to promote the creativity, innovation and craftsmanship towards “Celebrating & Rewarding the People Who Build”, the Construction Artisans Awards (CAA) was conceived as part of a holistic strategy to generate excitement and interest in the construction trades.

It is expected to feature a series of events, the main ones being the skills competitions at state, regional and national levels, culminating in a National summit / grand finale in March 2020, that will bring over 2000 artisans and up to 5,000 spectators, visitors and stakeholders together as well as about 30 million viewers globally through broadcast on international and national television and the internet.

The skills competitions offers a unique opportunity for skilled artisans and apprentices to showcase the knowledge, skills and experience they have acquired over the years in order for them to be celebrated by their employers, friends, families as well as communities.

The Awards also offers construction companies, real estate developers, equipment and tools as well as materials manufacturers to showcase their products and demonstrate their commitment to quality craftsmanship by showcasing their products and services especially to the artisans who not only directly handle them, but very often determine their patronage.

The goal of the Construction Artisans Awards is, to showcase and encourage the vocational skills of artisans in the building and construction sector and to celebrate them.

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