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Not easy being green: Australia is still building four in every five new houses to no more than the minimum energy standard

New housing in Australia must meet minimum energy performance requirements. We wondered how many buildings exceeded the minimum standard. What our analysis found is that four in five new houses are being built to the minimum standard and a negligible proportion to an optimal performance standard.

Before these standards were introduced the average performance of housing was found to be around 1.5 stars. The current minimum across most of Australia is six stars under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).

This six-star minimum falls short of what is optimal in terms of environmental, economic and social outcomes. It’s also below the minimum set by many other countries.

There have been calls for these minimum standards to be raised. However, many policymakers and building industry stakeholders believe the market will lift performance beyond minimum standards and so there is no need to raise these.

What did the data show?

We wanted to understand what was happening in the market to see if consumers or regulation were driving the energy performance of new housing. To do this we explored the NatHERS data set of building approvals for new Class 1 housing (detached and row houses) in Australia from May 2016 (when all data sets were integrated by CSIRO and Sustainability Victoria) to December 2018.

Our analysis focuses on new housing in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT, all of which apply the minimum six-star NatHERS requirement. The other states have local variations to the standard, while New South Wales uses the BASIX index to determine the environmental impact of housing.

The chart below shows the performance for 187,320 house ratings. Almost 82 per cent just met the minimum standard (6.0-6.4 star). Another 16 per cent performed just above the minimum standard (6.5-6.9 star).

Only 1.5 per cent were designed to perform at the economically optimal 7.5 stars and beyond. By this we mean a balance between the extra upfront building costs and the savings and benefits from lifetime building performance.

NatHERS star ratings across total data set for new housing approvals, May 2016–December 2018.

The average rating is 6.2 stars across the states. This has not changed since 2016.

Average NatHERS star rating for each state, 2016-18.
Author provided

The data analysis shows that, while most housing is built to the minimum standard, the cooler temperate regions (Tasmania, ACT) have more houses above 7.0 stars compared with the warm temperate states.

NatHERS data spread by state.
Author provided

The ACT increased average performance each year from 6.5 stars in 2016 to 6.9 stars in 2018. This was not seen in any other state or territory.

The ACT is the only region with mandatory disclosure of the energy rating on sale or lease of property. The market can thus value the relative energy efficiency of buildings. Providing this otherwise invisible information may have empowered consumers to demand slightly better performance.

We are paying for accepting a lower standard

The evidence suggests consumers are not acting rationally or making decisions to maximise their financial wellbeing. Rather, they just accept the minimum performance the building sector delivers.

Higher energy efficiency or even environmental sustainability in housing provides not only significant benefits to the individual but also to society. And these improvements can be delivered for little additional cost.

The fact that these improvements aren’t being made suggests there are significant barriers to the market operating efficiently. This is despite increasing awareness among consumers and in the housing industry about the rising cost of energy.

Eight years after the introduction of the six-star NatHERS minimum requirement for new housing in Australia, the results show the market is delivering four out of five houses that just meet this requirement. With only 1.5 per cent designed to 7.5 stars or beyond, regulation rather than the economically optimal energy rating is clearly driving the energy performance of Australian homes.

Increasing the minimum performance standard is the most effective way to improve the energy outcomes.

The next opportunity for increasing the minimum energy requirement will be 2022. Australian housing standards were already about 2.0 NatHERS stars behind comparable developed countries in 2008. If mandatory energy ratings aren’t increased, Australia will fall further behind international best practice.

If we continue to create a legacy of homes with relatively poor energy performance, making the transition to a low-energy and low-carbon economy is likely to get progressively more challenging and expensive.

Recent research has calculated that a delay in increasing minimum performance requirements from 2019 to 2022 will result in an estimated $1.1 billion (to 2050) in avoidable household energy bills. That’s an extra 3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Our research confirms the policy proposition that minimum house energy regulations based on the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme are a powerful instrument for delivering better environmental and energy outcomes. While introducing minimum standards has significantly lifted the bottom end of the market, those standards should be reviewed regularly to ensure optimal economic and environmental outcomes.

Odisha Govt Signs Pact for Sustainable Urban Development

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Monday signed a note of Technical cooperation with GIZ (German Development Agency) for implementation of Sustainable Urban Development –Smart City, Climate Smart Cities and Adoption for Climate change in cities.

The note of Technical Cooperation was signed by Housing and Urban Development special secretary Prem Kumar Jha, Bhubaneswar Municipal Commissioner Additional Commissioner Surath Chandra Mallick, Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) General Manager Saroj Kumar Swain and Tanja Feldmann, Project Director, Sustainable Urban and Industrial Development Cluster, GIZ India in the presence of H&UD minister Pratap Jena.

The objectives of the above projects are to improvise the process of planning and implementing sustainable and integrated urban development solutions, to develop programmes and policies for climate resilient turban systems and to develop ICT based solutions for ease of governance.

The German contribution through all three projects combined is 16.4 million EUR (INR 127 Crores approximately) and the projects are expected to run until December 2021.

Under the Indo-German Development Cooperation, the projects aim to support mission JAAGA and BASUDHA in capacity building of various stakeholders within December 2019. Furthermore, one of the projects aims to develop ICT based tool for adaptation to urban flooding scenario in Bhubaneswar by January 2020. All the above-mentioned projects will be implemented by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited.

“Implementation of these projects will benefit the Smart City immensely in the sector of developing urban poor housing, urban basic infrastructure and climate resilient action plan, focusing on Urban flooding, cyclone resistance solutions and reduction of vehicle pollution,” Jena said.

Source: Pragativadi

High rents are stopping young people moving away from small towns for better-paid work, report finds

Rising rents mean young people are now less likely to move away from small towns to better paying-parts of the country compared to 20 years ago, according to a report.

The number of 25 to 34-year-olds starting a new job and moving home over the course of a year fell by almost half, from 30,000 to 18,000, between 1997 and 2018.

The Resolution Foundation think tank’s report found that any salary increases young people might benefit from by moving to bigger cities are being wiped out by high housing costs.

This is because wages in higher-paying parts of the country have not kept up with rents. Private rents have risen by almost 90 per cent in the UK’s highest-paying local authority areas, while rents have increased by just over 70 per cent among the lowest-paying local authority areas.

While previous generations enjoyed a significant increase in living standards by moving to cities like London and Manchester or regional hubs like Leeds and Bristol to develop their careers, now this is no longer the case.

In 1997, after housing costs were deducted from salaries, private renters moving from a low-paying area such as East Devon to a mid-paying area such as Bristol would see a 16 per cent rise in earnings. Today the financial gain would be just 1 per cent.

Moving from low-paying area to a high-paying area, such as Croydon, would have been worth a 26 per cent rise in earnings after rent in 1997 compared to a fall of 3 per cent today. Likewise, moving from Sunderland to York in 1997 see a 6 per cent rise in earnings after rent, but would now result in a 24 per cent drop in earnings.

The report warned noted that lower job mobility can “stunt young people’s pay and career prospects”. It said that this was also making it more difficult for firms to fill skills gaps and for workers to develop new skills.

“Young people today are often stereotyped as being footloose when it comes to work,” said Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at Resolution. “But in fact they are moving around for new job opportunities far less frequently than they used to.

“A key reason why people move around for work is the lure of a bigger salary. But increasingly those pay gains are being swallowed up by high housing costs.”

She added:  “For young people in particular, there are real advantages to moving when it comes to trying new roles and developing skills – and housing should not be a barrier that prevents them doing this.”

Traditionally, workers living in rented homes have moved around more than those who own their homes. But despite far more young people living in private rented accommodation today compared to twenty years ago, fewer now choose to move.

Rhys Robert Harper, 24, a parliamentary researcher, said he was moving back to Glasgow despite better pay and career prospects in London because of the cost of renting.

“For the past year I’ve been spending half my income renting an ex-council flat in south London with three other people,” he said. “I’ve found renting in London a miserable and soul-sucking experience.

“The conditions in the flat are shocking and the rent is extortionate. When I first moved in there was mould and dried food all up the walls.”

Mr Harper’s current job is coming to an end and after receiving job offers in both London and Glasgow, he decided to move back to Glasgow where he studied.

“Even though my pay and career prospects are better in London, I would need to spend 50 per cent of my net monthly income renting a room. But in Glasgow I’ll be spending about 25 per cent of my net monthly income renting an entire flat.

“It was a trade-off between getting a better job or having better living standards and looking after my mental health. It’s night and day really.”

Hannah Slater, the policy and public affairs manager at Generation Rent, said the report shows that for many young people “private renting is not about flexibility and career mobility, but because they have no other option”.

“In fact, unaffordable private rents are actively preventing young people from having the mobility to seize career opportunities,” she added. “For a society with fair access to opportunities for young people, we need to bring down rents in cities and decentralise our economy with better jobs across the country.”

The Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank focussed on improving living standards for low and middle income families, analysed official earnings data from the Office for National Statistics going back to 1997. This was cross referenced against statistics on rental payments collated by the Department for Work and Pensions and Hometrack, a property market analytics company.

The report came as the Affordable Housing Commission released research revealing that one in five households across England are facing housing affordability problems.

In the private rented sector, four out of 10 of all those in the bottom half of incomes are paying more than 40 per cent of their household income in rent, the report said.

housing developer

Making career as real estate developer

Real estate business is becoming more lucrative than most other activities people engage in. In the recent past, may be, because people do not bother how they sleep and where they live, there was not much attention given to real estate. Today, the impact of technology has made it possible for people to learn how people of other climes live and sleep. Today also, it is no longer to learn how people sleep and where they live, it has gone further to include helping people to fashion how they sleep and where they live. It has become so popular that people now eke a living in that and continues in that way to innovate a competitive ways that suit different people with different societal status. People can now, opt to develop a property for another for a cost and continues to change the pattern as the client requests.

Many a time the popular question for those who wants to make career as a developer is, ‘how do I get started as a developer, as real estate agent and so on? It is usually followed by a string of other questions which amount to; Could you just draw me a map that will guide me through every detailed step to becoming a developer? Many people may choose to undergo a training in project development while others will like to undergo an apprenticeship just to learn the art and begin operation.

Others who have enough money usually open an office and employ professionals who may not have enough money to register and establish an office to run for them. Still, others choose to enter into partnership with the professionals to run the business. People who are interested in this line of work come from a wide range of starting points.  A lot of them already have a fair amount of skill in one aspect or another of the built environment.  They have been a contractor, broker, planner, activist, architect, or property manager.  They know enough about how things work to recognize that they have a lot to learn outside of the field that originally led them to development.

Some experts have categorized these groupings variously to include but not limited to site selection, urban design, site planning and civil engineering. The price paid for securing land is the single most critical variable in beginning stages of a real estate project. Therefore, understanding what the site can and cannot do and how a building sits on the site to create value are paramount considerations. These four skills help a developer compare many sites against each other, fit in with the neighborhood, and deal with soil, water and utility conditions. There is what is referred to entitlement that refers to what the owner of the land is entitled to do with it, which is typically governed by the local municipality’s zoning code. A developer must evaluate what can be done with a site under the existing rules of setbacks, parking requirements, building size and height – or measure the risk associated with changing its classification or getting a variance. Equally as important as the written word is knowing the people who administer the processes involved in obtaining approvals.

There is the real estate deal structure, pro formas and finance that takes care of the  money and contracts, the heart of any real estate project. In a typical arrangement, the project has an operating partner, the person in charge of the whole process, and a capital partner, the person supplying seed money for a percent return on their investment. Together, they will seek additional financing from a bank or other entity in the form of a loan. A pro forma is a spreadsheet that tracks how the development makes money in rent or sales and how that income is distributed to its partners and the bank. We still have those whose specifications are to do the building designs.

These people are known as the architecture, electrical, mechanical and structural engineering, etc. This is the know-how that makes a building perform well and be dignified. A deep understanding of building codes can help the small developer optimize the size and functionality of individual units while avoiding costly construction methodologies or mechanical systems. Context appropriate exterior detailing and quality material selection can both gain favor with the neighbors and help the building stand the test of time.

The Construction and construction management is another segment in the lot. There are two key groups who make the construction or renovation of a building happen: skilled tradesmen and project managers. Leveraging the knowledge and work effort of the electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, roofers and installers is either a general contractor or construction manager. Regardless of the size and type of project, small developers need to carefully manage the process and risks involved in construction with thorough planning and contingency reserves. The marketing, sales, leasing and property management are other groups one can major in. Once you have a building, it must be sold or frequently leased and maintained.  Real estate agents and brokers handle many of the steps to attracting tenants or buyers and prepare the appropriate paperwork to ensure qualified applicants. If the developer is retaining ownership of the property, someone must answer the calls to unplug toilets and plan for big replacements like water heaters and roofs. That’s the realm of a property manager.


Project and business management is also a critical aspect and also very cardinal in the built environment sector. There are many details to keep track of and people to communicate with to make a real estate project move forward. Also, someone needs a good handle on business finance to guide the cash flow throughout the lifecycle of a project. The small developer needs to make intentional decisions about where along the development process they will make money and structure their tax and business arrangements to maximize those positions. Very few people master all of those skills. If you start with small projects, you can gain an overview, and understanding when they are needed at the various stages of a project.

You get a sense of the basics for each skill set.  If you don’t have the skill which the project requires, you can’t go without.  So you should borrow or rent the needed skill.  Look for people who are genuinely interested in your project and who are actually happy to teach you about their specialty.  A developer does not have to know everything, but they should have a good idea who to call or team up with before it is too late.ome, too. Optimistically, this will mean better protection for buyers and less asinine regulation on real estate professionals. The real revolution has just started and we will see explosive growth. Like in so many industries, change for real estate professionals is not always bad. These changes will produce more transactions because the process will become easier, and those who embrace these changes will win. Most importantly, the consumer will win because they will have more transparency and control.

Source: sunnewsonline.com

Real Estate Market in Ghana: CPL Group Providing Tailored Residences for Ghanaians

Interview with Stephen Debrah-Ablormeti, CEO of CPL Group

What is your assessment of the real estate market in Ghana? What are the latest trends? Is the market competitive?

The Ghanaian real estate market is quite competitive. There are a lot of developments springing up by the day and we see new models of designs and new models of finishes and people trying to do things that are different in the market. It is making customers very savvy in terms of what they want. The demand for quality is increasing. The appetite for great locations is also increasing. People have realized that they have to place a premium on location because that is where they can have all the values coming in after investment. There are foreign companies that are also entering the market space just to get a piece of the pie.

In this environment, how does CPL Group distinguish itself? What is your competitive advantage?

At CPL Group, we focus on three segments of the market: low income, middle income, and the high end. If any client walks through our doors, we will be able to meet their needs. We never take for granted things like quality or bringing improvements to every new project we are doing. We make sure that successive projects are better than previous ones because that helps us to drive our clientele along. We are always up to coming up with new designs, sourcing new finishing materials from new regions, just so that we can be different. We have one of the greatest products in the real estate market in Ghana.

What are some of the projects that you are working on currently?

We have about four project sites. We have the gated community of 120 houses of which we have built close to 60% of those units. We also have a villa development in town north of Dzorwulu, and Airport West specifically. We have two apartment projects, one at Dzorwulu, and one at Shiashie. Shiashie is the one where we are targeting the rental market. This is a new frontier we want to break into. We are bringing a bit of a twist to our model based on the present indicators.

What is the idea behind the model?

We have realized that the sale market is a bit low and collection is a difficult side of it. The majority of the clients that come to our office do not have the financial wherewithal to pay so they want to switch to the rental option. We realized that since the request for rentals was on the increase, there was a need for us to focus part of our budget to meet the needs of that market. We will start with this 120 unit and probably increase it next year. Should it work well, then we may end up focusing our business on that because there is also liquidity.

What is your gated community project?

The gated community project is a tailored residence for Ghanaians, both living abroad and at home. Ghanaians have a way of loving their family homes, so we modeled this project behind that sort of Ghanaians. We have a long, walled street, a leafy community, a playground, clubhouse, and we are providing adequate security for the community, manned security service, and some other management services to them. These are some of the basic things that Ghanaians really love if they want to be part of a gated community family. We came up with the Gardens, and as the name alludes, the project is very premium, leafy, and looks great. We think it will delight people. It is located in East Legon Hills, which is about 20 minutes’ drive from main East Legon.

What is your housing project?

The Villa Market became very exciting about two years ago. Those high-end market individuals who probably have built a home or two but in a not very favorable location tend to buy these Villa Market properties in a very good location where they have only a 10 or 15 minutes’ drive to the city center or whatever else they may want to do. It became very popular. CPL decided to take that opportunity to invest in that sector of the market. We delivered about 30 units of those villas in about two years before we had a bit of a slowdown. There is still a potential market for the future. All the villas that we have are around Cantonment, Airport residential, and Dzorwulu North.

What is your apartment project?

We have an apartment at Dzorwulu North. We realized that there were many expatriates that wanted apartments very close to the airport. So, we decided to build one bedroom, two bedroom, and three bedroom units around Dzorwulu to serve this niche in the market. That is under construction now and hopefully by the end of the year we should be able to close that project. Besides, we realized that the market was gravitating more toward rent so we wanted to put up these 120 apartments and see how it turned out. It was a bit capital intensive but we were determined to make it work. We are about 98% complete and we have positive signs of inquiry and positive letters of intent from various organizations to take up these units. It will be one of the leading niches in the market.

What is your international reach? Where are your buyers coming from?

We have buyers from all over the world: Canada, the US, the UK, Dubai, NigeriaIvory Coast, Cameroon and South Africa.

What percentage is coming from abroad vs Ghana itself?

About 80% is from abroad, even for the gated community houses.

What are the fundamentals here in this business to succeed?

In real estate in Ghana, if you want to succeed you have to make sure that you get your marketing right. I do a lot of exhibition in the UK, US, Canada, Dubai, etc. I am able to attract these people and then I bring them down to Ghana to buy my property. I use a very flexible payment plan to also get the attention of these people and differentiate myself from the market. There is competition in the market and very stringent payment plans. I try to be flexible and accommodating to attract the majority of these people.

What are the major challenges in this industry?

The present challenges have to do with collection. When people sign a contract with you and put down a deposit up to 30%, their standing balance could stretch beyond two years for various reasons. Those are the type of sales we do in Ghana if you are selling to the typical Ghanaian because there are no mortgage structures in place to give these people alternative means of payment, so they have to depend on their income to pay you. If things do not go well for them, it means that your payment is delayed. It gets even more serious when you have these people paying beyond 50%. It becomes very difficult for them to pay the rest. On the other hand, our clientele from abroad do not have problems with payment. They are very prompt and you have no issues. Once you hand over keys, you get paid in full.

What CSR activities are you working on?

We have been doing things for communities that do not have water (not necessarily in the area that we develop because our locations are already developed and have amenities) so they can get clean water. As of now, we have more than 15 communities that have sent in requests for us to extend that courtesy to them. We hope to complete these projects for all 15 communities in the north and part of the Ashanti region this year.

What is your vision for the company in the next two to three years in Ghana?

In three years, we are looking at keying into globalization. We do not want to constrain our business to only within the walls of Ghana, but to extend to other countries. We want to be in the global market. At certain times and certain seasons, you realize that the economy for a specific sector might not be supporting your business, so then you can quickly pay attention to an economy that is working well and have that balance across the board for your business. That is very key to us. We have done some feasibility studies in Gambia, Nigeria and Ethiopia. We are looking at the possibility of stepping into those territories. We have done some research also in the UK and we have started processes to venture into real estate there as an investor. We are looking at all those possibilities. In a span of about a year or two, we should be able to start at least one project in all these locations and see how that can push the company forward. We are also very open to strategic partners. We want to join forces and become bigger.

What kind of partners are you looking for?

We are looking at people from the real estate sector, financial institutions, equity investors. We want to be able to do greater things than we are doing now. So far, CPL has been able to put up almost 1,800 housing units since we started, but it has taken a long time to achieve this little. We should be able to turn out about 1,000 units per year in the next ten years.

Source: Marcopolis

Housing plans for former site of Abronhill High

North Lanarkshire Council is working towards building new housing on the site of the former Abronhill High.

Members of the Communities and Housing committee agreed to initiate a process to potentially deliver new housing stock at the site as well as homes for sale.

The council has a commitment to build 5000 new homes by 2035 and with this in mind will allow developers to tender bids to build 60 homes in the social housing sector as well as 30 for sale.

A report by Pamela Humphries, head of Planning and Regeneration, said: “Following consideration of available options it is proposed that the council should seek to obtain tender costs utilising the Hub South West Construction Framework for the new build social housing site at the former site of the Abronhill High School.

“The site is in council ownership and will be considered for viability following further ground investigations works and site restrictions. The holding service has declared the site surplus to requirements and site layout will be subject to planning and roads approval.”

Conservative group leader Meghan Gallacher criticised the scope of the council’s ambitions, citing a news story which claimed disabled residents in North Lanarkshire who need adapted homes were stuck on the housing list for up to 19 years – claims which were disputed by council officers.

Airdrie South councillor Ian McNeil, a member of the Labour group, claimed the Conservatives were “pretending to protect the disabled” while cuts to the welfare system were killing people.

He said: “It’s time to repair the damage done by the Tories over the last two generations.

Cumbernauld councillor Tom Johnston, leader of the SNP group, claimed the housebuilding figures compared poorly to the height of the New Towns movement in the 1960s.

A site at Old Glasgow Road in Cumbernauld Village has been removed from the council’s list of potential housing locations due to poor ground conditions.

Sites in Viewpark and Airdrie have been added to the new build programme instead.

Source: By Neil McGrory –

Tokyo proves that housing shortages are a political choice

In the debate about how to solve the housing shortage in UK cities, foreign examples, especially in the rest of Europe and English-speaking countries like the US and Australia, often pop up to show what we can do better. But recently, some of the most exciting ideas in housing policy and planning reform have started to come out of Japan.

The Centre for Cities recently visited Tokyo, Sendai, and Onagawa Town through the Japan Local Government Centre on the Japan Study Tour to find out more about how cities function in one of the most urbanised countries on the planet – and what we can learn from them here in the UK. Here’s what we found.

Japanese homes are cheaper because they build more

Compared to skyrocketing housing costs in many Western cities, Japan has seen remarkable success in supplying affordable housing – even in cities with lots of economic growth. While average mean rents in London are upwards of £2,000, average rents in Tokyo are about £1,300 – even after Brexit-related depreciation of pound sterling.

This isn’t caused by social housing or danchi – less than 5 per cent of homes across Japan are socially rented, compared to about 17 per cent in England. And it’s not because Japan’s population is shrinking either – Tokyo’s population is still growing due to migrants from other parts of Japan and abroad.

Instead, it’s because the supply of housing in Japanese cities is responsive to local demand. While the UK saw about 194,000 houses start construction last year, Japan saw 942,000 housing starts last year.

Even though Japan demolishes and rebuilds lots of houses, the net increase in homes is still much larger than the UK – about 600,000 homes (Table 5) are added to Japan’s dwelling stock every year. Tokyo has added roughly 110,000 homes a year since 2003, compared to 20-40,000 a year in London over the same period.

These homes are often smaller than what we’re used to – the average property in Tokyo is 55 square metres, compared to 80 square metres in London. But this isn’t the full story. New supply in Tokyo responds to demand by building lots of smaller one-bed flats for singles, and young people can live independently without needing to share with housemates. This means that, even though average homes are smaller, the average Tokyoite probably has more housing floor-space per person today than the average Londoner because living with housemates is so uncommon.


Japan’s flexible zoning system is a different kind of planning

The planning framework that underpins this supply is a simple zoning system that allows by-right development, rather than one that relies on granting planning permission for each individual site. There are only 12 zones, defined according to the maximum nuisance level they allow, ranging from sleepy residential to polluting industrial uses. The key is that pretty much anything can be built, provided it does not exceed the zone’s nuisance level – so in areas zoned for high street usages it is possible to convert a hotel into housing and vice versa, but this is not possible in residential only zones.

This allows market supply to respond quickly as market demand changes and ensures development and density is driven by land values. If the demand to live in a city grows, older houses can be knocked down by landowners to provide more and better quality homes. In the case of apartment buildings, 80 per cent of the apartment owners need to agree to demolition and redevelopment. This is why Japan’s higher rate of demolition isn’t wasteful, as it enables an efficient supply of more and better quality housing.

Local taxes in Japan also encourage more homes

As a result, there is a clear difference in Japan between the value of land and the value of the property that sits on it. Like in other countries, the price of land in Japan reflects local economic strength and access to amenities and jobs. But unlike the UK, in Japan, the value of houses declines as they get older, because it so easy to supply new homes. Reflecting this, the property tax valuation of Japanese homes also declines over time, increasing the incentive for local government to build new homes to fund public services.

Japan shows how political choices cause Britain’s housing shortage

Of course, the planning system is not the only thing which is different. One factor is that the politics of housing are rather distinct – for instance, green belts around Tokyo in 1946 and 1956 failed because they were so unpopular with residents and local government.

But what Japan’s inexpensive homes and its alternative policy approach prove is that the housing shortage in British cities is not inevitable. Housing does not have to be expensive in prosperous cities. The housing shortage is something we have chosen to experience and can choose to change if we want to. If Tokyo managed to reform its green belt, twice, why can’t London or Cambridge?

We may not want to copy-paste everything about Japanese housing into UK policy. We may, for instance, choose a larger role for social housing, or slightly stronger heritage conservation. But for national and local policymakers trying to end the housing shortage, understanding Japan’s experience is essential if we want housing to be inexpensive for everyone.

Shelter Afrique seeks Sh9.8bn cash call arrears

Continental developments funder Shelter Afrique has urged its 44 shareholders to fulfil their Sh35 billion capital subscription to enable it carry out its mandate.

Speaking during the Ministers of Housing sideline event at the just ended 2019 UN Habitat General Assembly in Nairobi, Shelter Afrique CEO Andrew Chimphondah said its 44 members owed it Sh9.8 billion capital subscription arrears since the 2013 cash call.

The balance is from a fresh cash call to raise additional Sh25.2 billion made in 2017.

“The cumulative Sh35 billion arrears is the main challenge for Shelter Afrique to effectively engage financial markets for further funding,” said Mr Chimphondah.

Terming housing a human right, the CEO said the lender was holding talks with various States seeking fulfilment of their quota while urging others to increase their stake in the Pan-African company.

“We are keen on inviting new member countries to join as shareholders and our current target countries include Egypt, Angola, Ethiopia, and Mozambique.”

NRIs Interest in Under-Construction Properties Revives Post RERA

The interest among non-residential Indians (NRIs) in purchasing under-construction properties in India has renewed following the implementation of new real estate law RERA, that aims to protect home buyers from fly-by-night developers, a study realty portals Housing and Makaan.com said.

“Project delays in the past resulted in investors shying away from under-construction projects. From being the hot favourite of the NRI buyer segment, under-construction properties went on to take the back seat. This trend, however, is beginning to change – thanks to the real estate law,” the report said.

Earlier, the preference ratio for ready-to-move-in and under-construction properties was 67:33, but now the ratio stands at 56:44, it added.

Meanwhile, the goods and service tax (GST) on under-construction flats has also been reduced from 12 per cent to five per cent, for affordable housing, it has been reduced to one per cent from eight per cent, while ready flats attract nil GST.

Realty portals PropTiger, Housing and Makaan are part of Singapore-based Elara Technologies, which is backed by News Corp and Softbank.

A stronger dollar has renewed NRI interest in India’s property markets, the report said, adding that the leads and visits on Housing and Makaan.com have improved by 30-40 per cent from last year.

NRIs from the United States (US), the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK) and Singapore are seen having the keenest interest in Indian realty, and form about 55 per cent of the buyer base, the US alone accounts for 26.5 per cent of the bulk of users while the UAE and Singapore each account for 9.1 per cent of the user base each.

While the most significant number of users is from the US, there is a phenomenal growth in the number of users from Singapore, Malaysia, Kuwait, Canada and the UK. Other countries from where NRI users have expressed interest in the Indian market include Hong Kong, Bahrain and France.

“Real estate has got a fresh lease of life after major structural changes such as the real estate law, the goods and services tax and demonetisation. Investors have expressed renewed interest, as they are more confident about regulatory practices in the country now,” said Mani Rangarajan, Group Chief Operating Officer, Elara Technologies.

Among cities, Hyderabad has received the highest NRI search sessions, followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru. Other cities where NRI buyers are actively looking for properties include Pune, Gurgaon, Noida, Ahmedabad, Ghaziabad, Vadodara, Kochi, Goa and Faridabad.

Source: Hindubusinessline

Rwanda: Govt Seeks More Investors to Meet 310,000 Unit Demand for Housing

The Minister for Infrastructure has invited more real estate firms to invest in affordable housing to meet the demand for shelter that is projected at 310,000 housing units by 2032.

Claver Gatete made the call during the launch of construction of 3,000 dwelling units in Nyamirambo Sector in Nyarugenge District, under Rugarama Park Estate.

The project is a joint venture between Development Bank of Rwanda and Shelter Afrique, a pan African housing finance institution.

Gatete said the project will help meet the 217,000 units needed in the country.

BRD chief executive Eric Rutabana speaks at the event in Nyamirambo on June 3, 2019

The houses will be built by two developers, namely Remote Group that will construct about 2,000 housing units on 30 hectares.

The other section of the estate will constitute over 800 housing units and will be developed by another contractor called Girinzu, these will be built on 12 hectares.

Infrastructure Minister Claver Gatete delivers his his remarks at the launch of 2000 affordable housing units in Rugarama, Nyamirambo on June 3, 2019. Craish Bahizi

“We anticipate close to 3,000 homes of different types in a period of one year,” he said.

finance conference

The entire project is expected to cost over $50 million.

The affordable housing units under Rugarama Park Estate project will, among others, offer a one-bedroom studio starting at Rwf12 million.

Other categories include larger private townhouses with front and back gardens starting at Rwf23 million and a convertible 4-bedroom unit starting at Rwf35 million.

The estate targets first-time homeowners within the income bracket of Rwf200,000 and Rwf900,000 per month.

The estate will have green open spaces, a sports facility as well as commercial centre earmarked for shops and restaurants.

According to the developers, construction costs were mitigated after Remote Group invested $15 million in locally manufacturing environmentally friendly building materials called Autoclaved Aerated Concrete.

“The technology just needs cement, sand, water and lime, most of which are locally sourced. Remote Group is opening a factory to produce the materials, which means it is made in Rwanda and can be used for other affordable housing projects. The main idea is to cut the cost as much as possible,” said Minister Gatete.

He said that the Government of Rwanda committed to give land and infrastructure, which is 30 per cent of the entire cost.

“We have to work together so that we scale and get another plan and have more, like over 10,000 homes, so that we scale up with that technology that can make houses affordable,” he said.

Gatete said that the current affordable houses are not big enough since they do not even make up 5 per cent of the needed houses.

In Kigali city alone, there is a shortage of over 30,000 dwelling units out of 31,279 units needed every year, according to studies.

He said that a strategy is needed to ensure clients are attracted to buy the houses.

“We are happy that a fund has been established with over $150 million already mobilised and we will continue mobilising so that those in affordable category can get loans to buy houses. We need to work together to close the gap in affordable houses,” he said.

Eric Rutabana, the BRD’s Chief Executive Officer, said that they are mulling charging 11 per cent interest rate, lower than the existing ones adding that a client can pay back in over a period of 20 years.

Andrew Chimphondah, the Managing Director of Shelter Afrique said they preferred to invest in Rwanda after considering many factors.

“Rwanda is a special place for Shelter Afrique, to invest because of its good governance and generally with shortage of 51 million housing units in Africa,” he said.

Officials said that every year, government will put aside land to be availed to those willing to develop affordable housing.

For instance, according to Claude Mutuyimana, the executive secretary of the City of Kigali, the city this year earmarked 10 hectares for investors in the sector.

Source: By Michel Nkurunziza, New Times

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