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House prices rises in US as supply increases for first time in many years

House prices in the United States increased by 7.5% to $225,300 in the 12 months to January 2019 while rents have increased by 2.1% to $1,468, the latest index shows.

The data from real estate firm Zillow also shows that there are more homes for sale with inventory rising on an annual basis in four of the past five months after falling for almost four years in a row.

Year on year inventory increased by 1.2%, meaning that there were 19,455 more homes on the market for sale than in January 2018. The biggest increase was in West Coast markets.

While, this was the first national inventory gain in January since at least 2014, the data shows that the slow pace of growth has thus far done little to reverse the long contraction in inventory that took place from January 2015 to August 2018. In July 2017, inventory was falling at its fastest pace since 2014 at 12.8% year on year.

Inventory has increased the most in five West Coast markets that were recently among the nation’s hottest, giving home shoppers more options and ever-so-slowly tilting the market toward buyers. On an annual basis, inventory grew 42.9% in San Jose, 36.9% in Seattle, 31.9% in San Diego, 29.1% in Los Angeles and 25% in San Francisco.

While the number of homes for sale grew in about three quarters of the country’s largest housing markets, a few East Coast markets saw big drops. Inventory in Washington DC, Baltimore and Pittsburgh all fell at least 10%.

Indeed, inventory fell 19.9% in Washington DC, the third straight month of annual declines of at least 14% following Amazon’s announcement in November that it would site a new headquarters there.

‘But during the second half of 2018, something shifted. Home buyers aren’t out of the woods yet, but there is a glimmer of light on the horizon. The number of homes on the market is hesitantly inching higher, now approaching the highest level in a year and a half. In the priciest markets, the jump has been even more definitive,’ he pointed out.

‘Buyers should not mistake a few more options for a sudden bounty. With home values still increasing at a steady clip, it’s clear that demand still outstrips supply, and with mortgage rates down from recent highs, the first quarter of 2019 is shaping up to be more competitive than the lull we saw as 2018 came to a close,’ he added.

He also pointed out that home value growth has remained at a steady pace in the seven percent range over the past two years though the national numbers obscure substantial differences across the country. Indianapolis and Atlanta experienced the biggest jumps over the past year, with home values increasing by more than 12% in both metros.

Rents grew on an annual basis for the third straight month following two months of annual declines, up 2.1% over a year ago to a median of $1,468. This was the largest increase in annual rents since May 2018.

Rents increased or remained flat in all major metros with Orlando, up 7.4%, experiencing the biggest increase. On the other end of the spectrum, rents were flat in Portland over the past year.

NBS says that the inflation rate dropped to 15.13 percent in January

he National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday released the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, with the rate dropping year-on-year by 0.24 basis points from 15.37 per cent in December to 15.13 per cent in January.

The bureau, in a report made available to our correspondent, said this was the 12th consecutive month that the index would be declining.

On a month-on-month basis, the bureau said the headline index increased by 0.80 per cent in January 2018, adding that this was 0.21 points higher than the 0.59 per cent recorded in December 2017.

The report read in part, “The Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, started the year 2018 increasing by 15.13 per cent year-on-year in January 2018.

“This was 0.24 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in December (15.37 per cent), making it the 12th consecutive slowdown in the inflation rate though still positive in headline year-on-year inflation since January 2017.”

The NBS report stated that the urban inflation rate dropped to 15.56 per cent year-on-year in January 2018 from 16.78 per cent recorded in December 2017, while the rural inflation rate also eased to 14.76 per cent in January from 15.02 per cent in December 2017.

On month-on-month basis, the report noted that the urban index rose by 0.83 per cent in January 2018, up by 0.17 percentage points from the 0.66 per cent recorded in December 2017, while the rural index also rose by 0.77 per cent, up by 0.23 percentage points when compared with the 0.54 per cent in December.

For food inflation, the NBS said the food index dropped to 18.92 per cent year-on-year in January 2018, down from the 19.42 per cent rate recorded in December.

“The rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of imported food in general as well as bread and cereals, milk, cheese and eggs, vegetables, fish, coffee tea and cocoa, meat, potatoes, yam and other tubers, and oil and fats,” it added.

In January 2018, the report added that inflation on a year-on-year basis was highest in Kebbi (18.55 per cent); Nasarawa (18.49 per cent); and Bauchi (18.01 per cent); while Delta (12.77 per cent); Kogi (13.28 per cent) and Anambra (13.34 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in headline inflation.

What you need to know about the deportation of MTN Uganda CEO

The CEO of South African multinational telecommunications company MTN in Uganda, Wim Vanhelleput, was deported on Thursday evening, February 14.

He becomes the fourth employee of the company to be deported in the last month as the government piles pressure on MTN to list on the local bourse and renegotiates its operating licence after 20 years.

Authorities have not given clear reasons for the deportations.

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Prior to markets opening in Johannesburg on Friday, February 15, MTN issued a statement saying it had not been notified of the grounds for the move.

The company’s group CEO, Rob Shuter, met with President Yoweri Museveni on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. Not much was revealed about what they spoke about, but The East African quoted the president as having said: “It is important that you float shares on the local stock exchange to allow for local ownership now that the licence has been renewed.”

The newspaper also reports that the presidency issued a statement on January 23 stating that the dispute over the renewal of the licence had been resolved and MTN had agreed to “spread its ownership to more Ugandans through a share placement with the National Social Security Fund”. However, this statement was not available on the State House website to confirm it and matters have clearly not been resolved.

It appears Mr Museveni is taking a leaf out of Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s book by forcing international companies to list on the stock exchange and playing hardball with the renegotiation of agreements. However, the rhetoric around events in Uganda is distinct from what we have seen in Tanzania.

MTN has been characterised as a ‘security threat’ whereas in Tanzania multinationals are characterised as greedy companies that hinder development.

These different narratives speak to the sources of legitimacy for the leaders in each country – in Tanzania Mr Magufuli gets his legitimacy from being clean and bringing development, so his enemies must be greedy and hinder that aim.

In Uganda, Mr Museveni draws his legitimacy from having brought stability and security, so his enemies must want incitement to violence and instability.

In July last year, MTN’s data centre was raided, reportedly by intelligence services, an employee was taken and held for four hours and four of its servers were disconnected. MTN subsequently laid a case of illegal intrusion against those involved, but there has been no news of the case since.

In a letter on the incident, MTN wrote: “We are yet to determine the extent of interruption to our network activities and the financial impact. It is also possible that some data have been tempered with or illegally accessed and taken from the premise (sic). The intrusion into the data was properly captured by our closed-circuit television (CCTV cameras),” – so it seems they would have solid evidence to support their case.

Local newspaper The Observer reported that one of the recent deportees, Italian Elsa Mussolini (former general manager for mobile finance services), stated that she was ejected from the country for inciting violence and funding opposition member of Parliament (MP) Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine). The funding reportedly took place during the campaign against the proposed social media tax that the MP led.

There is clearly a lot going on between MTN and the Ugandan government: licence renewals, stock exchange listings, data centre raids, opposition politician funding, incitement to violence allegations, social media and mobile money taxes, and possibly access to data on citizens.

Aggressive moves against multinationals on the continent are not a new phenomenon – MTN has had its fair share of difficulties lately in Nigeria too.

Taking on international companies makes leaders look good, at least in the eyes of some local citizens, but we also may be seeing a more regional phenomenon with Mr Magufuli’s approach emboldening his neighbours.

The events do not bode well. With Mr Museveni facing mounting challenges to his over three-decade rule in the run-up to elections in 2021, we could see more erratic policies and fiery rhetoric over the next couple years.

How the real estate industry helps cities succeed

Metropolitan governments and public bodies are increasingly recognizing that the real estate industry plays a crucial role in a city’s success. It helps create a more competitive, efficient and flexible environment for businesses, as well as contributing to improvements in quality of life and creating a more sustainable future for its citizens.

To fulfil this role and operate efficiently, the real estate sector requires high levels of transparency, the foundations of which include rigorously enforced laws and regulations; high quality, easily accessible market information and performance benchmarks; clear and fair practices; and high professional standards. These foundations allow businesses and investors to make decisions with confidence, while enabling governments to function effectively, providing long-term benefits to local communities and the environment.

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For example, high-quality property market data sends developers and investors a clear signal about when and what types of space to build, while benchmarks on the energy efficiency of commercial buildings enable businesses to make informed choices and helps cities on a more sustainable path. For individuals, transparency means they can enjoy security of property ownership, safe housing and workplaces, and reliable and professional services.

The world’s most transparent cities

JLL and LaSalle’s biennial Global Real Estate Transparency Index measures and ranks real estate transparency across 158 cities in 100 countries. This year’s index confirms that the world’s most transparent cities are found in Europe, North America and Australasia, with London, Los Angeles, Sydney and San Francisco taking the top spots.

Unsurprisingly, the leading ‘Highly Transparent’ cities are the preferred destinations of real estate investors, drawn by favourable operating conditions, transparent market practices, readily available data and performance benchmarks. ‘Highly Transparent’ markets account for around 75% of all commercial real estate investment globally. In fact, of the world’s top 30 cities for real estate investment, only two – the Chinese megacities of Shanghai and Beijing – are categorised as ‘Semi-Transparent’.

But even the leading cities are seeing transparency tested by new challenges, with standards pushed ever higher by rising expectations from investors, businesses and the public. In the wake of the 2016 and 2017 Panama and Paradise Papers revelations, which uncovered extensive patterns of illegal financing, tax avoidance and complex beneficial ownership structures in international property markets, a raft of new guidelines and legislation has been introduced in many ‘Highly Transparent’ property markets that have found themselves preferred destinations for ill-gotten gains.

While high-end residential deals were the focal point of the media storm surrounding the data leaks, commercial real estate is under greater scrutiny than ever before, as investors and businesses, as well as society at large, demand higher industry standards.

Meanwhile at the other end of the transparency spectrum, cities in emerging economies are still grappling to establish the foundations of transparent real estate sectors, from effective corporate governance to market data availability and robust legal and regulatory frameworks. For the rapidly urbanizing cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, transparency is an absolute imperative for successful long-term urban planning and sustainable economic growth. In many cases, lack of transparency is holding these cities back from becoming globally competitive and limiting their ability to capitalize on their strengths.

Nonetheless, cities in the largest emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Thailand and Turkey – are making progress. Shanghai, Bangkok, Mumbai and Sao Paulo are now on the cusp of transparency. Improvements have been patchy and these cities must continue to raise standards and ensure any new legal frameworks and regulations are properly enforced.

For example, India’s government has already taken strides to curb corruption through tougher regulation, increasing accountability among developers, improving data availability and helping to protect buyers. These measures are paying off. Its leading cities – Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru – are now among the world’s fastest improving real estate markets, sitting within striking distance of ‘Transparency’. Private equity investment has been rising in tandem with transparency improvements, reaching $6.3 billion in 2017, and foreign investment into real estate has also risen in parallel with these changes.

Transparency through technology

Dubai, another top improver, has seen a range of technology-led innovations. New and enhanced online apps for managing contracts, broker information and unified lease forms have contributed to improved transparency. In the future, tools such as blockchain could lead to greater global standardization in all areas relating to property, from city planning to environmental reporting.

Globally, the property industry is enjoying a technological leap, with more than $6 billion raised in funding by proptech start-ups in the last two years. As these companies mature, proptech will be an important future driver of real estate transparency improvements and has the potential to accelerate change in emerging cities. This may help them to leapfrog the normal process of transparency evolution.

Across the full range of the transparency spectrum, from the ‘Highly Transparent’ cities in developed economies in North America, Europe and Australasia to the emerging cities in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, the property sector will continue to play a key role in transforming city futures. However, the industry will need to work hard to stay ahead of the game as expectations continue to rise. Technology will have a significant role to play in advancing real estate transparency in the years to come.

New Delhi Government is Working Towards Housing for All by 2022- PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday touted his government’s speed of building houses to say it is working to fulfil the ambitious target of providing housing to all by 2022.

Speaking at a real estate conference here, Modi said 1.5 crore houses for the poor have been built at twice the speed to realise the target of 2022.

The interim budget for 2019-20, he said, has benefited the housing sector immensely by way of providing incentives for homebuyers as well as tenants.

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The budget move to exempt people earning up to Rs 5 lakh from payment of income tax will benefit the housing sector as the surplus will find its way into the sector, he said.

Other budget announcements, including hiking TDS exemption limit on rental income from Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 2.4 lakh, extending housing income exemption from one to two self-occupied houses, capital gains from sale of house property being allowed to be invested in two properties instead of one, and the 10-year window for registration
of affordable housing projects for getting tax relief, will give a big boost to real estate sector, he said.

Modi said the Central government has been trying to bring a positive change in the real estate sector during the last four and half years.

Demonetisation curbed use of black money in the sector, Modi said, adding his decisions face problems in the beginning as he works ahead of time.​

Six lives lost as fire destroys N427m worth of property in Bauchi state

The Bauchi State Fire Service has said six persons lost their lives while 217 people were saved in various fire incidents across the 20 local government areas of the state.

The agency’s spokesman, Abubakar Bala, gave this report of fire incidents that occurred between January to December 2018.

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He said property worth N427,530,000 were destroyed within the period while the agency was able avert property worth N1,035,250,000 from 357 calls the service received. He gave the affected areas to include residential houses, workshops, shops, hotels, petrol stations, vehicles, and markets among others.

He, therefore, urged the residents to “always employ the services of qualified professionals to carry out their electrical connections. They should keep matches away from children to prevent them from playing with it, which could lead to fire.

“I advise them to always purchase quality electrical wires for all their wirings, they should stop buying these substandard wires which can easily cause fire.”

Bala added that incidences of attack on their personnel has greatly reduced as the residents of the state are becoming more aware of the challenges the service is facing which is responsible for their ineffectiveness to respond to distress calls.

South Africa completes 12,000m² Battery Park

South Africa has announced to have completed the 12,000m² Battery Park located at a key entrance way to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Designed as the nucleus of a larger urban vision for the district  by the Urban design and Architecture firm DHK, the site holds a park and piazza that effectively conceal a 1,206-bay parking facility, as well as new pedestrian routes to heighten the area with activity. The site which is of historical importance contains the remnants of one of the city’s oldest structures, the coastal fortification Amsterdam Battery.

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The park will also provides a unique opportunity for to pay homage to the historic landmark at the same time incorporating a parking facility and providing spaces for leisure and recreational activities.

The Battery Park constitutes part of an urban design framework created by dhk for the V&A’s previously under-utilised Canal District that promotes the re-connection of the historical city centre and De Waterkant to the V&A and also to create a publicly accessible park which lies at the nexus of a multitude of new pedestrian routes connecting the new district into the surrounding urban fabric and thereby aiding to intensify the area.

Historical significance

The Battery Park was brought up by the Dutch along Cape Town’s coastline in 1784 to protect the city from seaborne and land attacks. In the 1800s the structure was used to house prisoners and was later re-modeled and strengthened by the British but eventually abandoned.

In 1905 the battery was largely demolished to pave way for railway connections to the port, leaving behind only a small part of its rear curved walls. The historical remnant is now raised eight metres above the new canal running through the site at a lower level.

The various landscaped elements displays the structure’s original footprint, for example semi-circular curved pathways, concrete additions to the rear ends, spread canal-facing walls and concrete-clad structures giving visitors a breath taking sense of the battery’s former size.

Parallel visual connection

A parallel visual connection to Cape Town’s Noon Gun on Signal Hill has also been retained, thus preserving the site’s historic sight line. Encouraging pedestrianized environment. The lower park level contains 11 boutique retail units that line the splayed canal-facing walls and form an active eastern edge to the new canal pedestrian route.

The intention behind the park was to activate the canal via a range of water sports and provide a link between the V&A and the CBD in the process encouraging a pedestrianized environment.

Connecting the battery’s original facade, loosely packed stone-filled gabion walls covers the parking facility and stone-clad planters contain fynbos and water wise plants. All stone used throughout the park walls was extracted from the site during the construction process.

These absolute elements place side by side contemporary insertions that reference the battery rather than replicating its heritage. Director at dhk and lead architect on the project Pierre Swanepoel said that the intention was to facilitate a new hub of activity within the V&A district while at the same time being respectful to the heritage of the Amsterdam Battery.

Source: Constructionreviewonline

Construction of US $3.38m Potato Laboratory in Nigeria begins

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong said that the tissue culture lab is intended to improve potato yields in the Plateau State by providing clean seed.

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He further added that the lab will be a great boost to the state’s great potentials in the mass production of Irish Potatoes for export. According to him, the laboratory would address the problem of low-yielding potato varieties and provide good quality seed.
State’s great potentials in the mass production
The Governor also addressed the fact that output of potato production in the state was greatly reduced over the years due to the occurrence of potato blight and degenerated seeds. He noted that the project will generate more income for the small scale farmers, not exempting rural entrepreneurs who engage in the production, processing, storage, and marketing of potato in the state.
“When completed, this project will create 60,000 jobs, out of which our women will constitute 50%,” said Governor Lalong.


The project will be done under the auspices of the Potato Value Chain Support Project of the African Development Bank, which translates that in no distance future, the state government will be exporting to other countries of the world, not only Irish Potatoes but also its allied products from the Potato Value Chain.

Source: Constructionreviewonline


Google will spend $13billion to expand into Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Nebraska real estate

Google’s massive footprint is only getting bigger in 2019.

CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post on Wednesday that the company is building new data centers and offices and expanding several key locations across the U.S., spending $13 billion this year.

Pichai outlined the plans, which include opening new data centers in Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Nebraska, the first time the company will have infrastructure locations in those states. The company is also doubling its workforce in Virginia, providing greater access to Washington, D.C., with a new office and more data center space, and expanding its New York campus at Hudson Square.

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Google is showing its willingness to further open its wallet, after a year in which capital spending more than doubled to $25.46 billion. Far from its roots as an online advertising giant, Google is building out data centers to bolster its cloud-computing division as it tries to keep pace with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. It’s a business that requires providing fast and reliable computing access and resources to large corporations and government agencies.

Data centers also serve Google’s core search, Gmail and YouTube products.

The company didn’t say home much each location will cost or provide information on tax incentives from local communities. Ruth Porat, finance chief of Google parent Alphabet, said on the company’s earnings call earlier this month that she expects the “capex growth rate in 2019 to moderate quite significantly.”

Pichai said the plans will likely create tens of thousands of construction jobs across Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Virginia, as well as Oklahoma and South Carolina, where the company is expanding existing data centers. Google didn’t say how many new jobs the data centers and business offices would create.

Pichai also said that the company is adding new office buildings in Texas and Massachusetts, building out more space in Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington state and Georgia, and redeveloping California locations near Los Angeles and in the Bay Area, including the Westside Pavillion and Spruce Goose Hangar.

Last week, the Austin-American Statesmen reported the company planned one new office tower in Austin, Texas, to add approximately 5,000 workers. In late 2018, the company announced it’s $1 billion investment for a new campus in New York City, which it said will double the workforce there from 7,000 at the time.

FG employs 4,500 workers for housing project in Osun

Mr Olasunkanmi Dunmoye, South West Zonal Coordinator, Federal Government Housing Scheme, said about 4,500 residents were employed as skilled and unskilled labour in the construction of federal government housing project in Osun.

Speaking during an inspection of the housing scheme on Tuesday in Osogbo, Dunmoye said that the project was being built for the masses on 10.6 hectares of land in the state capital.

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Dunmoye said that modalities for selling the flats would be made known after its inauguration in the next few weeks.

“The housing scheme is part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s bold attempt to provide housing for the masses.

“And this project is ongoing in all states of the federation, except Lagos and Rivers states, but the two states would be captured in the second phase,” Dunmoye said.

Also speaking, Mr David Ogunola, Head of Infrastructure of the scheme, said there were 68 units in the Osun scheme, comprising of four units of one bedroom flat, 44 units of two bedroom flats and 20 units of three bedroom flats.

He explained that the housing was equipped with 75,000 litres capacity surface tank and 40,000 litres overhead tank, with four motorised boreholes.

Ogunmola added that the electricity at the housing had been connected to the national grid with good network of roads.

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