HOUSING AND CONSTRUCTION
Mediocrity coupled by low quality engineers and tradesmen in construction is hampering growth of real estate sector, experts have said. These, according to them limit some people’s investment in the sector.
“For instance in the year 2017 over sh4trillion was remitted by Ugandans living in the Diaspora to relatives and friends, in terms of gifts and investment back home.
A very small percentage of this went to the real estate sector; over there, people living in Diaspora have lost money to friends or relatives in projects that go bad,” said Eng. Thaddeus Matovu, a construction consultant.
Matovu added: “Even those who build, some of their projects stall. You find that in some cases, the clients give contractors money to purchase for example iron bars, cement during construction but people involved put less while building.”
Experts also say, there is a missing link between clients and professional engineering practitioners and hence resort to informal means of sourcing people to do construction work.
“Mediocrity partly explains why many multimillion projects are being taken by foreign owned companies hence low jobs for Ugandans. When you go to Roko Construction, you will get best carpenters, engineers, roofers and other experts. Local firms here lack alignment of right technical people.
They are there but not well assembled to do right work,” said Matovu, who is also the managing director Kola International Ltd, a consultancy firm that links professional engineers to people/ companies intending to build.
Catherine Nanteza, the Chief Executive Officer Association of Real Estate Agents (AREA) Uganda quoted residential property index that shows that there was 7% increase in real estate sector growth in the last financial year.
She said a lot has to be done to enhance the growth further.
“There have been less sales in affordable real estate properties for instance those that range in sh30m and below. In prime areas like Kololo and Naguru, Ntinda, Naalya and Namugongo, property sales have been increasing,” said Nanteza.
She added: “What we can notice now is a bias market where the buyer dictates the price. We have instances where a seller comes with property charging like $1m but the buyer says he or she has $300,000.
In that case you see the owner saying, let’s sit down and negotiate; so I can say, there is some sort of desperacy .
Nanteza said several people in the diaspora have been cheated and manipulated because of dealing with relatives instead of professional agencies while investing in real estate sector.
She said this, these days; there are several professional estates managers, agencies who can take care of money and give value for money.
“People in diaspora should always come to AREA to help them recommend whom to work with. There is also the issue of failure to use right professionals which has led to collapse of buildings; people are occupying buildings without occupational permits,” said Nanteza.
Jonathan Gombya, a senior property manager at Knight Frank a leading independent real estate consultancy in Uganda, said: “You notice that lately we have a lot of supply in terms of real estate space for consumers; for instance many commercial office space buildings have half or quarter occupancy and a number of them are grade A structures. If the buildings constructed to good standards are struggling to fill-up, how much more are difficulties for a building that is constructed not to standards?,” he said.
Gombya said some clients choose to go for unqualified practitioners because they don’t want to spend so much and in the long run the work becomes sub-standard.
“What our landlords need to do is to always involve experts at the beginning of projects for better professional advice. People should always put in place competitive advantage of their commercial buildings if they are to succeed,” he stated.
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