The Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) has organised a four-day long REHAB Chattogram Fair 2020 this year, which will run from February 6-9 at the Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View.
The Business Standard has spoken to REHAB's Chattogram Regional Committee Chairman Abdul Kaiyum Chowdhury, who expressed the organisation's aspirations and expectations.
What is the target of this year's fair?
This year, the Chattogram REHAB fair has been organised with the slogan "Dream Habitation – Green Country, Red and Green's Bangladesh." This year, our target is to get business worth Tk450 crore. Last year, REHAB Chattogram region did business worth Tk320 crore.
How many companies are participating in this year's fair?
There are 55 home development companies and 73 stalls in this year's fair.
What role does the fair play in the real estate business?
This fair connects the service providers with the service receivers. The consumers find companies related to apartment and home decoration under the same roof. The consequence of this four-day long fair prevails throughout the year. Developers get a boost in their sales.
How many REHAB members are there in Chattogram?
There are 83 REHAB members in Chattogram.
What is the overall situation of the real estate business in Chattogram?
The sector went through a little bit of a slump in recent times. But now the situation has improved. Developers are taking up new projects. Some seasonal businessmen came to this sector for quick profit, but that disturbance is over now. Those who survived are facing a challenge in taking this sector forward.
Are the non-REHAB members negatively impacting the real estate business?
Of course, they are affecting the sector negatively. More than a 100 companies, which are not our registered members, are involved in the housing business in Chattogram. These companies are often accused of cheating their customers. Their negative roles ruin REHAB's image, because people know REHAB as an organisation of real estate businessmen.
What measures could be taken to overcome the situation?
Unruly activities of companies not registered with us will decrease if the Chattogram City Corporation stops giving licenses to and renewing those of companies which are not our members. At the same time, if the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) stops approving building plans by companies which are not our members, these companies will make less trouble.
Are there any legal bindings in this regard?
There is a gazette notification from the commerce ministry that no company can run a real estate business without becoming a member of REHAB.
Have you taken any initiative to ensure apartment facilities for middleclass people?
We want to build flats for the middleclass, but the high price of lands is an obstacle to it. Despite that, the developers are expanding their projects to the outskirts of Chattogram. Prices of these apartments will be determined keeping the purchasing capabilities of the middleclass people in mind.
How is the government helping to advance this sector?
REHAB has advanced so much because of the government's assistance. Earlier we needed permission from 11 departments for a building. Now we can build it with the approval of four agencies. Moreover, the government has given a positive decision regarding home loans and raised the credit limit from Tk1.2 crore to Tk2 crore. Reducing the interest rate to a single digit from April will positively affect the sector.
Do you have any other expectations from the government?
We hope that the government will decrease the apartment registration fees. Although the government has already reduced the registration fee by 2 percent, we expect a further 4 percent cut off on that fee. REHAB has so far focused on residential apartments. We hope that the government will give REHAB the scope to develop plots and apartments similar to the ones given to the government development agencies. As REHAB has vast experience as a home developer, the government can give us an opportunity to work in this sector.
What role does REHAB play in restoring buyers' confidence about receiving plots properly?
The companies which deceived buyers were not REHAB members. We have already sought help from the city corporation and the CDA to stop the illegal activities of companies unregistered with REHAB. Also, the consumers are now very well informed, so there is no crisis of confidence. There were some problems five years ago, when many apartments remained unsold as buyers could not pay instalments. Now we receive less number of complaints. We sincerely try to resolve the allegations against any REHAB member.
Why is there no new investment despite the facility to invest undisclosed money in the housing sector?
Scopes of new investment will emerge if a chance to invest undisclosed money by giving minimum tax is provided. Not much undisclosed money is invested in this sector, suggesting that this money is being laundered abroad where nobody questions the source. To prevent money laundering, a chance to invest in housing sector with little tax should be provided.
What are your future plans?
We are working to ensure housing facilities for the middleclass people along with the upper-class people.