Tuesday, 26 November 2013


A JCB destroying an illegal structure in Harare West.
Many desperate home seekers are losing thousands of dollars in bogus housing cooperatives and projects in Harare, Bulawayo and else where. The conmen bombard laypeople with an avalanche of jargon like monthly subscriptions, top up, endowment fees, registration fees etc  but we however know that all these refer to just one thing which is money. Isnt it ironic that a  real state deal for a mere 300sq m demands the entire dictionary to describe money were as one for thousands of sq meters like those we sometimes do has two or three words for money in the agreement of sale.

People are therefore warned and must guard the little they have jealously. A majority of these housing projects will collapse but not before they make someone poorer and homeless. The total amount of money some people have paid shrouded in endless jargon if it were to be summed up now would become a deposit in say Mainway Meadows where better properties can be secured.

So how do we identify the conmen? First and foremost its important to know that Zimbabwe has a heritage of order and is amongst the best in rural and urban planning. Therefore, one is safe only if she or he first refers to the order our civilization established through law before becoming part and parcel of any housing endeavor .

This writer is perpetually shocked to see some cooperatives mushrooming along rail way lines.  According to the Rural and Urban Planning Act these vacant pieces of land are allowed to be like this and its not wastage by the authorities but its for your safety from train disaster. Most of us have seen in news clips of India how derailment causes destruction of nearby property and life. As a civilization we have enacted laws like the Rural and Urban Planning Act as a move of providence since we know that prevention is better that cure.

In a modern state there are many uses that should never be disturbed by any other. These also include electricity power lines, fresh water and sewer systems, airport and road servitude etc. As a result the aforementioned act has vested in many municipalities and state ministries powers of a local planning authority (LPA) that dictates that no land subdivision or any significant change of use can be effected in its jurisdiction without a permit issued by it. The LPA  or city/rural council is enabled to first consult with such utilities like ZESA, NRZ, ZINARA and even adjacent citizenry before any major project is permitted. All this is done in the spirit of order, progress and the most sanctified of all – the preserving of human life.

In a nutshell the most important message is that the need for housing cant be separated from that of order but the two goes hand in glove. This realization should illuminate home seekers so that its used to verify the legitimacy or lack thereof of any private housing project by conducting a thorough inspection of relevant documentation from the LPA.



How do you sell a property in a moneyless or illiquid market ? This is the million dollar question in the minds of those who want cash for their investments. But how can you possibly do it? In the past five years of my real estate career I have discovered an answer and that answer is the needs-focused marketing strategy. This strategy works because the liquidity problem creats serious competition as market players wrestle for the little cash available, so in order to survive this struggle one should be as competitive as possible through sharpening the needs-focused strategy. I will define this strategy later but for now I shall start with simple but important basics you should know first.
You harbour a dream of owning a property or of adding two or more to those you already have. In order for such a dream to see the light of day as opposed to having it remain as just a dream forever, you need to have a clear picture of market realities and other fundamentals at play.

LOCATION. First and foremost you should know that in real estate the effects of supply and demand vary with location. It is therefore, misleading to argue that a stand in ZIMRE should get a higher price because the same stand in Mainway Meadows (another middle density area) is getting such prices. ZIMRE and Mainway Meadows may be equally good in terms of land development elements like quality roads and sanitary systems but in terms of open market value Mainway Meadows beats ZIMRE because its closer to the CBD and established social amenities.
Acquiring good investments is a great desire in people who save money. Unfortunately many Zimbabweans are unable to invest in these because of funds that are below the minimum required. Its therefore a pity that many holders of small savings end up losing capital as they purchase items that are more of consumables than assets.

Real estate is a genuinely great area for investing into which people the world over put surplus cash and then lock up capital for a lifetime. Small players should therefore take advantage of it. It is however unfortunate that these days many small savings holders are buying cheap motor vehicles of Asian origin. Despite the fact that these immediately begin to depreciate the moment they leave the showroom, their prices are falling also because they have flooded the market. But real estate on its side is in a situation made of many positive factors. Official records that state that there is a backlog of at least one million housing units bear testimony to this inference. Real estate can bring in rental income of about ten percent per annum. It is also true that the stars of this game like Robert Kiyosaki and Mukesh Ambami are making more than ten percent in few months through property development.

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