Old Mutual to build 15 000 houses

HARARE - Fifteen thousand first time home - seekers are set to benefit from Old Mutual’s housing developments across the country in the next five years.

The insurance giant has set aside $62 million towards funding the initial phase of the project, where it is constructing 1 593 housing units in Budiriro.

“We are funding all this from internal resources with the aim of relieving pressure on the country’s housing waiting list,” group managing director Jonas Mushosho said during a tour of the first phase of the project.

“Old Mutual plans to construct 15 000 low-income housing units in various centres across the country,” he said.

Beneficiaries of the projects are set to be drawn from local authorities housing waiting list, with the Budiriro project expected to be complete in the first quarter of next year, he said.

“We are working with the Harare City Council, which has provided the land and will also allocate the units when completed to those on its data base while CABS will provide mortgages to the beneficiaries that would qualify,” he said.

Mushosho said the insurance group will also be funding the construction of roads, water and sewer reticulation among other infrastructure developments as part of the projects, with over 800 jobs having been created in its current development.

Old Mutual has also teamed up with CABS to build 1 500 houses in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo.
The two companies intend to build 750 houses in Nkulumane and another 750 in Pumula South, both around Nkulumane Shopping Complex.

The country’s largest insurance company owns the shopping complex and will be the consultants for the housing project.

Ambrose Matsika, CABS business consultant, said plans were on the horizon to expand the housing project to many parts of the country.

“Our aim is to reduce the country’s housing backlog and whenever resources are permitting, we will be rolling out these projects in areas such as Kwekwe, Gweru and Mutare among others,” he said.

Zimbabwe has an estimated two million people on the national housing waiting list.

Old Mutual’s projects come as the company early this year said it remained highly optimistic about the prospects of the country’s property sector and planned to invest close to a $100 million in active projects scheduled for the next three years.

Old Mutual is also currently completing an office park in Borrowdale, next to Harare’s Borrowdale Race Course, where construction was started in the pre-dollarisation era.

The insurance giant, which has the country’s largest property portfolio of approximately 6 million square metres, says despite a projected slowdown in the local economy to 3,5 percent this year  it has managed to weather the storm with an 83 percent occupancy level in all its properties.

“Our strategy is flexible and is meant to benefit clients, such as shoppers, our tenants and the policyholders who ultimately own the properties.

“We will therefore always consider the particular circumstances of each tenant in rental determination, among other factors,” Lillian Mbayiwa, OM’s group marketing executive said in an earlier interview.

“Our rent determination strategy ensures that our tenants are viable and remain in a position to contribute positively towards the shopping centres in which they are located.

“As such, there have been no rental increases for our suburban shopping centres since March 2010.

“More specifically, we have also undertaken space modifications to meet the market’s current demands while remaining competitively priced,” she said.

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