Builders inflate prices of flats

Published November 28, 2022
The people of Karachi were the first to accept apartment living in the country.
The people of Karachi were the first to accept apartment living in the country.

‘Apartmentarianism’ is the philosophy of real estate investors that is bolstered by the fact that 73 per cent of the apartment owners in Pakistan are not apartment dwellers. Around 75pc of apartment residents live in rental flats because of their low buying power. However, in reality, apartment living is not yet in vogue. The real asset is a high return on investment for developers backed by their demand-generating marketing strategies.

The people of Karachi were the first to accept apartment living in the country. The competition has accelerated the pace of real estate development. Every month, thousands of branded apartments appear on the landscape of the city of lights since Karachiites have a higher tendency to invest in flats and condominiums.

Notably, 68pc of the population of Spain lives in apartments. In the UK, 14pc of folks prefer living in apartments. Despite the fact that Karachi is a magnet for apartment lovers, around 9pc of Pakistan’s urban population lives in apartments.

The prices for one-bedroom and three-bedroom units fall between Rs15-30 million (or more). While juxtaposing these price patterns with those of the constructed houses, the end users tend to buy a traditional house because it costs them a little more to own an on-ground asset.

Despite the fact that Karachi is a magnet for apartment lovers, only around 9pc of Pakistan’s urban population lives in flats

Especially in Lahore and other megalopolises of Punjab, the price difference between a 1,000-square-foot house and an apartment of the same size is small. That is why the residents prefer houses to apartments. Property investors inflate the prices of apartments, not the end users who invest in buying a roof for their loved ones.

In 2019, the Lahore Development Authority wanted all the housing schemes to allocate 20pc of the residential area to build apartments. The property tycoons, under the auspices of their vested interests and high costs of construction inputs, got this bylaw reversed in 2021. The developers now go their own way while deciding on the allocation of land for apartments. In addition to a regulated real estate syndication system, fair prices can emerge only if the developers get continuous construction supplies at reasonable rates.

Dedicated apartment complexes are meant to promote vertical living. Lowering the costs of building materials on the part of the government could facilitate the developers in dropping apartment prices. It would intensify demand and the apartment culture may deepen its roots in Pakistan. It could have positive implications for the country’s transition to a more urban state which is expected to reach 50pc by 2025. More apartment complexes mean more land for vegetation, leading to comparatively better atmospheric conditions.

Apart from a few drawbacks, apartment living offers more privacy, effective aesthetics and better living conditions. Moreover, it promotes a minimalist way of life that appeases many worries in the long run.

Nearly all the military and civil departments have plunged into the business of housing. They are developing horizontal cities burning thousands of hectares of fertile land. Instead, they must consider building a series of vertical residences to save agricultural land. If we do not turn to apartments soon, someday, we will demolish the expanse of housing to ensure food security.

The apartment culture is a blessing for those who fall into middle-income groups. They could start owning their living space by making a partial payment. The remaining amount is to be paid in instalments as per the prescribed forward plan. Living in apartments, therefore, does two things — the alleviation of housing shortage and the protection of arable lands.

Apartment culture is the ultimate solution for economically acceptable housing. Since apartment construction calls for fewer materials, the probability of saving forests, reducing pollution and conserving water becomes high.

The writer is a socioeconomic analyst.

Email: waheedurrehmanbabar@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 28th, 2022

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