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Housing Shortage in Pakistan – A Boon or Bane

01/04/2021

Housing Shortage in Pakistan – A Boon or Bane

Since forever, Pakistani newspapers, news channels and social media platforms have always been full of brand new, glistening housing projects’ advertisements – luring people to upgrade their lifestyle or invest in plots and properties in major cities of Pakistan and say goodbye to the rural lifestyle. Most of these large and middle-scale residential projects target middle-income strata, who spend their all lives to make one dream of calling a place their own home, come true. Therefore, the private developers play with their emotion by translating their innate desire into dream houses in Pakistan that display strong infrastructure, better security and civic facilities and these project match the buyers’ needs and fit into their budget, too.

Before moving on to find the impact of housing shortage on the economy and environment, let’s discuss the issue in terms of numbers.

What does data say?

According to an estimate, out of 208 million people in Pakistan, more than one third live in 20.01 million houses in Pakistan spread across cities and the remaining live in nearly 13 million houses in rural areas. There is another estimate that clears the situation of housing shortage in Pakistan and it depicts that currently, the housing shortage is around 11.4 million homes which is likely to grow to 17.2 million units by 2025. And this shortage is prevalent despite the landmark initiative taken by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan to construct five million homes during his current tenure.

Demand for houses in Pakistan will increase because…

Referring to the current shortage and demand, the property developers and industry experts forecast a spike in the demand for houses in Pakistan from 1.07 million units per year in 2020 to 1.24 million in 2025 and mostly in the urban areas. There are numerous reasons behind this rise such as there is an influx of migrants moving from rural areas of Pakistan to the cities in search of better employment opportunities and improved lifestyle. Secondly, to combat the shortage of housing units, the government has come forward and announced to provide loans under its low-cost housing scheme to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of housing units in the country.

Low-cost housing units…

It is a commendable step of the current government because more than 50 percent of the demand for new houses in Pakistan come from the lower-income groups, who are otherwise, forced to live in informal shelters and housing units such as families living in one house from generations, in cramped spaces or slums. On the contrary, private developers keep introducing new housing projects from time to time in order to meet middle and upper-class demands regarding high-quality houses in Pakistan complemented with premium facilities and amenities.

Housing shortage – an opportunity in disguise

The industry specialists and real estate experts at HomesPakistan believe that the housing units crisis is a huge opportunity for the developers – especially, if they take on the challenge to launch housing projects for the low-income group. Majority of the population migrating from rural areas to urban places, move to attain a better lifestyle, which on other hand adds more to the housing crunch.

However, if handled wisely the crisis can move towards a solution, where the government will come forward to provide incentives to such developers and help them by removing regulatory barriers and providing long-term solutions, strong infrastructure, urban planning, policies and reforms to improve the sector. And real estate developers come forward and announce low-cost housing projects, which can further be financed through government banks, financial institutions and leasing companies.

What role does government play?

The government of Pakistan has announced a subsidy of PKR30 billion for the Naya Pakistan Housing Development Authority to build houses in Pakistan that will cater to lower-income group. It has already released PKR3.35 billion to construct more than 7,000 housing units across Pakistan. Moreover, the government announced tax relief to the construction sector by labelling it as an industry that will play its humongous role in uplifting Pakistan real estate sector. Besides that, the government has also declared deregulation of the industry, reforms in building by-laws, reduction in capital gains tax, and reduction of sales tax on construction material. These reforms will not just directly benefit the developers and constructers but help flourish the allied industries such as cement, steel and aluminium.

Housing shortage in Pakistan – A bane for the region

There is a severe housing crunch in the country, and the need for good quality houses in Pakistan keeps increasing with every passing year. It is a serious issue that needs to be tackled wisely through reforms and policies. On the contrary, how wise is it to demolish the natural balance of the eco-system and devour the fertile lands just to construct a concrete jungle. Mismanagement and poor planning may not cater to the housing crunch but can lead to food insecurity in years to come.

The increasing population and a huge influx of population in the urban cities have destroyed green spaces that used to mark the boundaries of metropolitan cities. The same trend has lately been observed in smaller cities as well such as recently, mango trees gardens are cut down to develop housing schemes in Multan. A large number of concrete jungles have been witnessed in Punjab and southern Sindh – which were previously renowned for vegetation and crops.

The situation of textile hub of the country is not so different, as you can find countless new gated housing projects in the northeast of Faisalabad city. It is hard to digest that these premium houses in Pakistan are built on once fertile fields, which were previously used to provide wheat, sugarcane, cotton and several other seasonal crops. Not just in Faisalabad but hundreds of housing projects have sprung up in recent years in and around major and smaller cities across the country.

The land is being purchased from the farmers by offering them a better price for their land and luring them with sweet dreams and tempting offers of an improved lifestyle and exuberant amount, which has resulted in more houses than green fields. It is an alarming situation for the government and policymakers, who seem not to be bothered about the regular crops and utility items like wheat and sugar being imported from the neighbouring country. The government must stop turning blind eye to the farmers of Pakistan and must look into the issue deeply and come up with a viable solution for everyone, otherwise, we must be ready to face food security issues in the years to come.

After knowing about both sides, what are your views and who do you favour? Do we continue constructing more and more houses in Pakistan on agricultural lands? Otherwise, we need to wake up and force the government to come up with a sustainable plan that is suitable for both sides. Do not forget to share your point of view with us through contact@homespakistan.comand we will be happy to get back to you soon.

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