How to move Pakistan's property sector in the right direction

Govt, investors and public need to all be on board
Photo: File
Photo: File

Stakeholders agree that the system governing the dynamics of Pakistan’s property sector, which has been struggling for a long time, is flawed. They seek its replacement with a new and improved setup.

The government, on the other hand, so far has struggled to document the local real estate industry. This documentation gig comes off as an extension of the executive’s efforts aimed at generating revenue from what is reportedly the largest undocumented sector in Pakistan.

The construction industry can provide a boost to the country’s struggling economy but, at present, is not getting the attention it should. Meanwhile, overseas Pakistanis (who form a bulk of real estate investors) have had their share of concerns over the volatile state of the local currency--rupee depreciation has hit the national economy hard.

What this sector needs is a plan and real estate stakeholders (the government and the public) can take up the following roles:

The overseer

This role is quite obviously going to be played by the government. The state and the people have their own interests in the sector and every fair-minded person will understand that their concerns need to be guarded.

Some real estate stakeholders have argued that the local property marketplace has been sacrificed at the altar of other businesses in Pakistan. While this statement may have some truth to it, the actual problem is that real estate has been sacrificed at the cost of improving revenue generation and balance of payment levels.

The incumbent government has already undertaken efforts to boost the economy, revamp the construction sector, develop low-cost houses under its Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP), and stabilise the rupee. In a similar development, Prime Minister Imran Khan recently announced the that the construction sector would be given ‘industry status’.

The innovators

They are expected to play a critical part in facilitating the transition the country’s real estate sector is currently undergoing., for example, has been one of the major innovators in real estate since its advent in 2006. What makes special as a field innovator is that in addition to providing all the services falling under the purview of conventional real estate, the company has also developed a number of user-friendly tools; such as its real estate index, search trends feature, and the recently unveiled Plot Finder utility. Property Bank, the latest facility proposed for addition to Zameen's products portfolio, is geared to provide increased publicity to unattended real estate across the country and is scheduled for a launch soon.

The virtuosos

The hard workers, experts, real estate agents, consultants and developers are, perhaps, the most important factor in this entire equation. They are the ones who have been controlling the fate of real estate and they are the ones who will be deciding it this time as well. But they will, however, need all the help that they can get from the other two mentioned above. The entrenched, while in a strong position, can become a little short-sighted-- something that will have to change.

Similarly, the government’s concerns will have to be heeded. The money being poured into the real estate sector cannot continue to serve no purpose except making the rich richer without contributing to construction, economy or revenue.

On the other hand, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have their fates and jobs--and by extension, the fates of their families and children as well-- attached to the real estate sector. The government cannot just pull the plug on the matter as it wants, whenever it faces financial crunch. There should be some method, some progression. If the government wishes to facilitate the construction sector--it should do so in line with consistent and progressive policies--since upheavals do not suit businesses and neither do they suit the people or state of Pakistan.

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