City of Harare and CABS in February reduced the deposits for houses built under the Budiriro Housing Project from 25% to 10% of the total value. However, the total price of the houses remains the same.
Writing on its Facebook page, council said that the move to reduce prices was designed to increase uptake of the 3,102 houses that have been built under the scheme. According to a report in Harare News Issue 11, uptake for the Budiriro houses was low due to the high deposits.
“For its part, Harare City has relaxed the six months mandatory waiting period for new entrants on the housing waiting list before they can qualify for allocation,” reads Council’s Facebook post. This means that home seekers who wish to purchase a two roomed house without a slab that has a total value of $25,302.30 will now pay a deposit of $2,530.23, instead of the $6,000 that was being charged before the reduction. Two-roomed houses with a slab are valued at $27,451, while one will have to fork out $31,262 for a four roomed house.
However, some residents said that council and CABS should reduce the total value of the houses, as they felt that they are still overpriced. Douglas Sande from Mbare said that the houses are still priced beyond the reach of many. “How many people can afford the deposit, and worse still monthly instalments for 10 or 20 years? Their prices are still too high, and they should reduce them if they want to attract more takers,” said Sande.
When contacted for a comment on whether the deposit reduction had yielded the desired results, council’s Corporate Communications Division held that there was no sudden increase in uptake, but noted that there was an increase in the number of inquiries from home seekers.
Tambudzai Masekesa from Hatfield said that the housing scheme is no longer meant for the poor, in view of the high monthly instalments being charged for the houses. “I wanted to buy a two-roomed house, but I could not qualify because I was told that the lowest instalment is about $300 per month over 20 years, and that instalment falls a few dollars short of my salary. How many people are earning enough to pay such high instalments?” said Masekesa.
According to a price catalogue of the Budiriro Housing Project that is available at CABS branches, home seekers have to pay $376.85 per month over 10 years for a two roomed-house without a slab, while those who wish to pay over 20 years are expected to pay $298.93 each month. Those who wish to purchase the same house on 100% loan from the bank over 10 years are expected to pay $418.53, with those wishing to repay the loan over 20 years having to pay $331.95 every month. The required gross income required for one to qualify to acquire a two-roomed house without a slab under the Budiriro housing scheme for payment over 10 years is $856.48, while the required monthly income to acquire the same property over a 20 year period is $679.39.
This spells doom for many aspiring home owners, as indicated by the recently published FinScope Consumer Survey 2014, which pointed out that half of Zimbabwe’s workforce was earning less than $100 per month. This means that only a few will qualify for the housing scheme.
Sharon Magodyo, the Community Coordinator for Harare Residents Trust (HRT), said that her organisation would like the houses in Budiriro to be reduced in price, as residents claim that there was improper planning and monitoring of the construction exercise. This led to some houses built under the project collapsing in January this year, reportedly due to heavy rains.
“This reveals lack of transparency as the two parties (CoH and CABS) should fulfil the promises that they made in public. Residents in Budiriro blame council for the collapse of some of the houses, as they allegedly say that sand poachers were mining sand from the site reserved for CABS stands, but when the surveyors and builders came they simply levelled the area and continued to build houses on weak soil,” alleged Magodyo.
Council is still to release a report on the causes of the collapse of some houses built under the scheme, despite having instituted a probe soon after the house collapses were publicised in January.