A proper and well-maintained industry is imperative if the goal is to provide housing for all
Modern life is considered “fast-moving,” where every aspect can be accessed almost instantaneously and things change in the blink of an eye. However, even in this rapidly changing world, there is one aspect that is considered as being quite “static,” where change rarely takes place — real estate. But that is a perception that is no longer fully appropriate. From kings and zamindars to individual ownership, the concept of real estate proprietorship has evolved quite a lot throughout the centuries. People now have a better understanding, rights and access to real estate, and this has changed the entire concept. And the pace of this change is accelerating day by day.
In order to get some idea of the change that is taking place, a person only need to look at the type of property people desire the most nowadays. The previous generation grew up watching people who had estates. These were large patches of land with two or three-storey private buildings, big lawns and maybe even driveways. That is what people desired the most back in the day. But that soon became unfeasible and the focus went on to smaller pieces of lands or plots — which soon gave way to apartments.
Since the mid-2000s, there has been an abundance of apartments in the urban landscapes of Bangladesh, with the rural areas still somewhat holding onto the previous trend. This change is not due to a change in desire though. Rather, it is a change of necessity. Soaring prices and scarcity of land compelled people to look for alternatives. And lo and behold, apartments or flats rose up as that alternative, which allowed people to still fulfil their desire of owning a property without compromising their expected conveniences — and this was possible at a much lower cost than that of buying land and building a property on it. Whereas it is/was nearly impossible to find enough land without breaking the bank to building a home at city centres, apartments could be owned by spending a few lakh takas, not crores.
This dynamic march of real estate preference is still underway though. Apartments are still the more popular choice for real estate enthusiasts, but the type of apartments most prefer is changing now. Condominiums and bigger homes with better facilities are what people desire nowadays — even at high prices. The GDP is growing, home loan interest rate is dwindling, and buying and selling is becoming easier — all catalysts to this growing change in property demand.
Speaking of accessibility — perhaps it is one of the most influential factors in the housing industry today. This is a novel phenomenon, but a powerful one nonetheless. For most of its history, the process of real estate transaction has been much of the same — the interested party searches for a desirable property via known associates, try to verify the structural and legal integrity of the said property, goes into final negotiations once and if everything is in proper order. All of these have been a long, tedious and complex process, not to mention all the scopes for fraudulent activities the traditional approaches there tended to be. Continuous horrible experience with property buying and selling had put off many interested individuals from engaging in this sector. As a result, the immensely potential sector had started shrinking.
But then there was a resurgence of the housing and real estate sector among the general mass. While the property industry has always had a strong presence in the national economy, there has been a strong downturn, particularly during the middle years of the last decade. People were tired of the lack of transparency, complexity and tediousness of the process and all the hassle it brought with it. The change of this mindset was brought on by an aspect that has already touched and improved many other facets of our life — and that is technology.
The year 2016 saw the emergence of digital real estate in Bangladesh, thanks to the launch of proper real estate solution providers. Unlike the developer’s people of Bangladesh were used to, who only pushed their property to buyers, these real estate agencies offered properties from multiple sources. While there are several such agencies in service at the moment, only Bproperty offers comprehensive real estate solutions. They are now considered a pioneer of the industry and have introduced several digital aspects such as virtual property tours. This digitalization of the housing sector is allowing people to find properties from any place at any time — almost instantaneously — which, in turn, is influencing people to engage with real estate.
Like interlinking chains, accessibility is leading the way for engagement, and engagement is leading the way for investment. Throughout the history of this country, real estate was seen as a golden investment opportunity — until now. Buying properties solely for reselling or renting purposes is not a novel concept, but it has taken a prominent role in the modern real estate landscape. Property prices have increased over 1000% in the last two decades in several areas of capital Dhaka and people are now vying to fully commercialize it. Properties in many areas are seeing their prices double in less than five years; and as the desire for property investment rises, different areas come into focus in search of investable opportunities.
While the planned development of areas is the ideal, it is not the norm. As a result, organic development is the machine that fuels the growth of the city. So, once people start buying land or apartments en masse, the development of the area is not too far. This unexpected phenomenon has kept the country’s real estate engine running and changing for the last few decades.
Bangladesh’s real estate landscape is changing and transforming — sometimes it is easy to see and sometimes it is not. But the change is continuous and unrelenting. A proper and well-maintained industry is imperative if the goal is to provide housing for all. And if the state today is any indication of the things to come, it can be bright and successful.