The housing sector is a manifestation of the country’s economic landscape, says Labour Researcher Herbert Jauch.
Speaking at the public dialogue on ‘Housing in Namibia: Turbulent Times Ahead’, Jauch pointed out that the housing sector is mostly controlled by a few wealthy people in the country who owns multiple houses consequently setting up rent at their advantages so that it covers their mortgages.
“According to research done, most people earn less than N$1000, while 20% earn between 1000-2000, 6% earn between N$6000-8000 and only 15% earning N$8000-10 000. This clearly indicates who is able to own a house or not,” he pointed out.
He added that although there are various initiative programmes available such as National Housing Enterprise (NHE), Build-Up Program and Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia set up to promote housing for low income earners, there is an evident low supply thus there is need to start tackling the issue of housing by thinking outside the box and start investing in an alternative construction that will speed up the supply of housing for low income earners.
First National Bank Research and Competitor Intelligence Manager Namene Kalili explained that there are various trends which slowdown development in the housing sector.
“Data collected in the last five years (2007-2012) show that in 2007, there was 70% of low income housing available on the market, however currently only 35% of the low income housing is available.
“The other change is that before the housing market had more houses that were on the market than rental, nowadays houses are mostly for rent than for sell which is a sign that people are holding on to their houses which in turn decreases the supply of houses on the market,” he said.
Supply is mostly lacking in the section of low income earners because most houses are found in the higher than in low income earners locations. Kalili noted that there are around 4 570 sq km of municipal land available for construction which is quite enough. However, the problem is the high cost linked with servicing those lands which is about N$ 2,2b.
“The key point is that Government, financial institutions need to work together to raise that amount. If this plan succeeded, there would be a possibility of the house prices falling down to N$250 000 from the current N$545 000. Political will is imperative in getting the plan on the road though,” he pointed out.
The small housing sector price falls between N$400 000 - N$450 000; the median size are between N$450 000 -N$800 000 while the larger ones are from N$800 000 and above.
In regards to slow delivery of houses for low income earners, NHE Acting Senior Manager Operation, Willem Titus, said they are currently experiencing delays in receiving affordable serviced lands.
“Our responsibility does not lie in investing in lands but rather in constructing houses. Funding has also been an issue as we cannot get loans from banks because they require full recovery which is something we cannot afford as we do not build houses in order to collect benefits but rather make them affordable for the low earners,” he said.
Currently, NHE has a waiting list of approximately 6000 people in Windhoek.
The enterprise is busy constructing 234 houses in Katutura.