In a move to reach out to low income earners, real estate developers announced they will start constructing affordable houses to reach out to all segments of the population.
Fred Rwihunda, the Director of the Real Estate Department in the newly formed body, Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), disclosed that they plan to build 140 houses in Batsinda, Gasabo District worth about Rwf 2 billion.
“These will be built in the first phase, which starts in July and be complete within a period of one year,” Rwihunda said.
He said the houses would be worth between Rwf 15 million and Rwf 20 million each, payable at once.
“We encourage people to get mortgage loans from financial institutions and pay us immediately. You get a loan and the house becomes collateral, that becomes a guarantee and then service it (loan) through the bank,” he added.
Other affordable houses, Rwihunda noted, will be built in the second phase.
The fund has been constructing only high-end houses valued at about Rwf 65 million each.
It currently owns about 268 hectares of land in Kigali city that is yet to be developed.
“We will develop this land in the next five years.”
Steven Owamazima, the Marketing Manager of Real Contractors, said his company also acquired land in Kabuga where they plan to construct affordable houses.
“We acquired land which can accommodate about 300 houses; some of them will be low cost. We want to avail housing facilities to everyone,” Owamazima said, adding that the houses will range between Rwf 20 million and Rwf 35 million each.
“Our services are for the people and we want to reach out to all groups,” Owamazima said.
Since its began its operations in the country, Real Contractors has so far put up 118 housing units in Kabuga, Nyarutarama and Kagugu.
However, Charles Haba, the president of Real Estate Association of Rwanda, said they still face “huge challenges”, which limits them from investing in houses affordable to low income earners.
“These houses they build are still expensive though they call them affordable. But you cannot blame them because they also face huge challenges in their business,” Haba said.
He outlined the cost of land, construction material and financing from banks as some of the major challenges.
“The cost of land is still very high, whether you are building affordable houses for low and medium income earners. The cost (interest) of loans from banks by both developers and mortgage is also high,” he said.
“There is need for extra incentives (tax waivers, availing housing funds) to help them (developers) build houses which are really affordable by all. When the government decided to promote ICT, it waived taxes on computers and the related accessories,” explained Haba.
Egide Gatsirombo, the Chairperson of the Institute of Real Property Valuers in Rwanda, said that the value of land has increased in some places in the recent past.
“But we have a program to carry out research to know the value of land in all parts of the country. We hope this will help those seeking land for such houses (affordable),” Gatsirombo said.
Esther Mutamba, the Director General of Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), recently said her institution would increase the distribution of affordable housing by relaxing restrictions on low-cost housing.