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Property Invest Forum Sector Seeks To Consolidate Recovery And Exploit Emerging Opportunities

Zimbabwe’s property and real estate players continue to exhibit resilience as they navigate the post-pandemic and inflationary operating environment. The observation has been made by industry experts ahead of the annual ZIMREAL forum on September 27th.

Charity Chirume, Development Manager for Terrace Africa, cited a series of pocket developments, at various stages of completion, as evidence that players in the sector are being innovative.

“Some players are taking advantage of the new financial vehicles, such as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) to raise capital,” she said.

Rising inflation during the first half of 2023 has seen most rentals denominated in US dollars, as property owners try to preserve value.

However, this has impacted rental growth.

“The operating environment has affected tenants’ rent-paying capacity in hard currency,” explained Gibson Mapfidza, Managing Director of ZSE-listed Mashonaland Holdings. “Dollarized rentals have only helped partially to hedge against hyper-inflation because, in real terms, rentals have struggled to match inflation.”

Chirume and Mapfidza will speak at the upcoming ZIMREAL 2023, which will discuss some of the challenges affecting the sector and seek to exploit opportunities.

“The property market has remained resilient as it devises ways to deal with the pass-through effects of the economic challenges. We see exciting opportunities in student accommodation, tourism and health facilities,” Mapfidza noted.

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His upbeat outlook is shared by Chirume who added that demand for strategically located quality retail space and integrated mixed-use developments present more exciting emerging prospects.

Some changes to existing policy and updating of local and master plans are being encouraged to attract more investment into the sector.

“The local plan which designated E D Mnangagwa Road as a development corridor has spurred huge investment in the area and bears testimony to the impact that clear and coherent policies can have on the property market,” Chirume explained.

She went on to say: “Whilst it is evident that we may be witnessing the commencement of a construction boom as PPC reported a 42% volumes increment in its’ operating update for the five months ending August 2023, the availability and quality of infrastructure such as roads, sewer and water becomes a critical enabler for sustainable economic growth. There is a need for collaboration between Local government and private developers for long term solutions potentially through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and rebate programs”

Mapfidza concurred adding that there is need for modern energy, water, transport and ICT infrastructure.

“In the long-term, the property industry requires significant infrastructure investment if it is to sustain its return generation capacity into the future, and to maintain the general ambience of the cities,” he said.

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Central Government, local authority and private sector players will be in attendance at ZIMREAL, where they are expected to share ideas on how to improve the policy environment.

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