Zimbabwe property sector struggling

By Janet Shoko
Posted on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 13:44

The property owners have been realizing low returns from their investment and firms renting office space are defaulting on rentals.

We have noticed that the private investors have been redesigning their spaces particularly in the CBD from office to retail

Default rates are now as high as 50 to 60 percent compared to the normal rates of between 10 and 20 percent.

The crisis been attributed to the liquidity challenges in the country which have in turn led to the deterioration in the quality of tenants.

Most of the tenants have even failed to honour payment plans leading to them absconding or being evicted.

Property analyst Mennard Chekayi said there had been a shift in the property sector where many offices in the central business districts were being redesigned to suit retail operations.

“We have realised that at the moment since we moved from 2009 many companies are closing down and people are losing their jobs here and there, but the Zimbabwean person becomes a trader, one would rather buy and sell things and the need for retail space has increased,” Chekayi said.

“We have noticed that the private investors have been redesigning their spaces particularly in the CBD from office to retail and that demand has driven retail to perform very well”.

Chekayi said as of December last year there has been an additional 20 000 square metres of retail suburban space and 5 000sqm in central Harare while office developments were about 30 000sqm of new office park space.

The property sector has an insignificant footprint on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) with only four firms listed out of 67 companies.

Real estate expert Anyway Taruvinga said a few real estate firms were listed on the ZSE, and that their value to the local bourse was also insignificant.

At the end of December, the four listed firms had a combined market capitalisation of $139, 5 million and are currently trading at a discount to their net asset values.

The four listed real estate companies were Dawn Properties, Mashonaland Holdings, Pearl Properties and Zimre Property Investment.

Some analysts are of the view that a property data base should be established to assist investors, analysts and bankers.

Most real estate companies are not able to do market research on real estate and property development owing to lack of resources and institutional skills.

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