Business in the local real estate market is currently slow, but Barbadians have not lost the desire to own their own house and land, Director of the Real Estate Expo Derrick Frederick has said.
Speaking at the one-day event held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre yesterday, he suggested there was room for development and growth.
“There is a cycle in the economy, there are new people leaving school, there are new people getting opportunities, so people say land is not selling but land will always be selling. There is always money in the economy. The challenge is where it is, because it moves around but essentially it still is pretty slow right now”.
He however remained confident that activity would pick up as the economy improves.
“Overall things may not be as rosy as we would like them to be, but there are still lots of people who are building. If you look around the island, you will see homes going up, they might not be going up at the rate that they were going up before, but it is most people’s dream to own a home and that dream doesn’t stop, and people are continuing to pursue that dream.
“The economy doesn’t stop that dream so they may not finish it all in one, but they may finish it in stages but that dream continues. You cannot take the dream away from people, so whether the economy is booming or whether it is slow, people will always be seeking to build a home.”
He noted that those who made the decision to construct homes were doing so with great care and thorough examination of the products on the market. Frederick advised the public that there was always time to make an investment, saying, “when you look at the trends in terms of land ownership . . . you generally don’t see them going downwards in terms of prices.
“Sometimes it may be best to invest in land than to invest in other means in terms of the rate of return that you will get,” he added.
Delivering the feature address, Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development Denis Kellman said the expo was crucial for assisting prospective homeowners to gain an appreciation and understanding of the process of planning for and purchasing their future homes.
The Minister of Housing reiterated his ministry’s commitment to providing adequate housing to Barbadians, saying, “we are cognizant of the scarcity of land and the high demand for housing within the country ; therefore measures were employed to provide alternative solutions”.
Pointing to several Government projects, including Valerie and Country Park Towers, the Minister went on to highlight the $5 per square foot 500 lots programme.
He said, “I have encouraged the NHC to appreciate the offering of this solution as an alternative way for them to generate income by working with the prospective home owners to construct their housing solutions using NHC’s labour resources”.
Noting that some were gaining ownership of their homes after renting it for a prolonged period, Minister Kellman stated, “The creation of the rent-to-own programme has allowed those persons who are unable to achieve home ownership . . . the chance to rent the property with the aim of purchasing the property.”
He added, “with this programme, 70 per cent of the rent goes to the purchase price reducing it as payments are made, eventually bringing the purchase price to an amount where the renter can qualify for a mortgage and thus realize their dream of ownership.”
Since its inception, the programme has benefited 43 families, Kellman revealed.
“When this is completed, the owners will be empowered to help their offspring, using their property as collateral where none was owned previously,” he added.