Council and CABS are battling to find takers for the 3,102 two and four roomed houses that were built in Budiriro.
The houses which are being sold on mortgages payable over 10-20 years, were meant to accommodate low cost home seekers, but have failed to attract takers since their commissioning in 2014 due to their pricing. Less than 1,000 people have occupied the houses which are priced from $25,000 for a two roomed cottage up to $31,000 for a four roomed house.
Council’s Education, Health, Housing, and Community Services committee that sat in March, reported that two councillors from Kuwadzana who had taken a tour of the housing scheme expressed concern that a majority of houses built under the scheme were still to be occupied.
“The director of housing and social development reported that the bank (CABS) had reduced the deposit and had invited people to even pay in instalments, but regardless of all the concessions, there had been no takers,” read the committee minutes.
CABS slashed the deposit of the houses from 25% to 10% in 2015.The decrease in deposits saw home seekers wishing to purchase a two roomed house without a slab that has a total value of $25,302 paying a deposit of $2,530 instead of the $6,000 that was being charged before the reduction.
Other unsuccessful efforts to attract takers of the houses included opening the scheme to home seekers who were not on council’s waiting list as well as inviting home seekers from the diaspora. However, it seems council is now ready to renegotiate as they have tasked the director of housing to engage CABS on a way forward for occupation of the houses.
Acting Mayor Enoch Mupamawonde confirmed that council was now willing to renegotiate with CABS for more flexible terms as they had realised that the high mortgages were affecting uptake of the houses.
“When you have done a project that was earmarked for low income groups, we would expect such people to benefit. So if there is still low uptake up to now it surely becomes a cause for concern. Right now we are awaiting the outcome of the renegotiation with our partner (CABS),” said Mupamawonde.
Residents in Harare still maintain that the Budiriro houses are overpriced. Samuel Matiya (37) from Highfield said that the houses are not worth their asking price.
“The houses are overpriced considering their size and one can easily find cheaper housing. Council should work on pro-poor housing models using its own resources rather than engaging financial institutions who end up reaping off home seekers,” said Matiya.
Another resident Chipo Nyamandwe (43) from Glen Norah also complained over the high mortgages which are pegged between $366 and $503 for a house purchase over 10 years, and $286 to $393 for a purchase over 20 years.
“It is a good project, but the problem is that most home seekers are earning far less than the mortgages they are asking for. The only way to attract more takers for the houses is for CABS to reduce the deposit and mortgages,” said Nyamandwe.