Housing sector fears ‘rock-bottom’ year as 2018 sees no cure to steady decline

AMMAN — Once again, the housing sector finds itself in an unfavourable situation, as the Jordan Housing Developers Association (JHDA) finalised its 2018 statistics last week to find a 13 per cent overall decline in trade volume compared with 2017, and a 25 per cent drop compared with 2016.
“The sector has been steadily collapsing and I am afraid it is going to hit rock bottom in 2019,” President of JHDA Zuhair Omari said.
The only month where sales went slightly up was December, when a 4 per cent increase in sales brought in JD450 million for the sector.
However, just a month before that, in November, the trading volume dropped 32 per cent compared with the same month in 2017 and 46 per cent compared with the 2016 figure, with losses in last November estimated at JD387 million. 
Also in November, around JD400-million worth of investments were withdrawn from the local market and directed towards nearby countries such as Turkey, Egypt and the UAE.
“What is a 4 per cent increase in comparison to the solid hits we have been taking since 2015?” commented Omari.
Attempts by the government to rejuvenate the sector include a recent decision by the Cabinet to grant Gazans living in Jordan the right to own property, which was expected to give a boost for the sector, although JHDA statistics show no signs that Gazans have bought new real estate since the December amendments.
“It has only been a month since the decision, so we are hoping that 2019 would see more Gazans looking to move their business here from the UAE,” said Salam Maqusi, a real estate agent.
In another attempt to revive the ailing sector, the government extended an exemption for 150sq.m apartments from registration fees, as well as a partial exemption for 150-180sq.m apartments, until the end of 2019.
“Extending a deadline is not the same as cancelling the fees. If there were no fees at all, considering that those fees sometimes reach around half the price of the land or the building, then that would be a drastic change that would revive the sector,” said Mnawer Hadid, a partner in a construction company.
Section: LocalJournalists: Maram KayedImage Position: Full Width

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