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The Crazy Market; An attempt at understanding real estate and rent mechanisms in Khartoum

The real estate market in Sudan is witnessing a significant drop in prices. In contrast, rent prices are rising at an unprecedented record, which gives a glimpse of how the local market works.

AlTaghyeer: Elfadil Ibrahim

The real estate market in Sudan is witnessing a major stagnation, after a long period of record price hikes.

Real estate prices have decreased by 40% according to brokers and dealers who spoke to AlTaghyeer, blaming this on various reasons, including large supply and lack of purchase.

Conversely, rents in Sudan have recorded high price hikes amid expectations of an increase of 30% during 2022.

Despite significant decreases in buying and selling prices for real estate, experts and specialists indicate that the prices are still relatively high compared to the level of per capita income, and when compared with rents in neighboring countries, the region, and even the world.

Osman Jamil, owner of a real estate store, says that prices vary from one region to another, and the type of building, construction, and location, are all factors that must be taken into account.

As per Jamil, houses in the portion of Omdurman that is known as “old Omdurman” were priced between 115 and 130 million pounds. Now however, they have dropped in price to between 90 and 100 million pounds.

“As for the plot prices for housing schemes, we find that east of the Nile is the most active in terms of rentals , especially in the neighborhoods of Al-Huda Al-Nile, Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Manshiyya East, Al-Nasr, Al-Fateh, Al-Lu’Lu’a, Al-Nakhil, Al-Jawhara, Al-Naseem Al-Talal, Al-Wadi Al-Akhdar, The old Hajj Youssef, in addition to all the squares of Hajj Youssef) at a rate of 8-11-13 million pounds.

According to Jamil, the price of plots in Al-Fayhaa area is (40-45) million, dropping from its earlier price was 50 million.

Jamil explains that there are large differences in prices between one region and another. He refers to a plot of land in upscale Kafoury, Square 9, with an area of 425 square meters, and 85 million required instead of the earlier price of 100 million earlier.

He mentioned that transactions in most high-end areas in Sudan are mostly conducted in dollars, in areas such as Al-Manshiyya, Al-Taif, Kafoury, and Al-Maamoura.

Ibrahim al-Fateh, a broker, remarked that the prices of apartments in both Cairo and Turkey are significantly lower than those in Khartoum.

The broker pointed out that the price of an apartment in Egypt ranges between 10-20 million Sudanese pounds, with all services available, while the same amount would not suffice for a plot of land in a suitable location in Khartoum, let alone an apartment.

Comparisons

Al-Fateh points out that there are no obstacles for Sudanese to owning real estate in Turkey, as they have the right to buy all types of real estate there in all its classifications – apartments, villas and commercial real estate – in accordance to a sales tax that does not exceed 4%.

“You can even buy in installments for prices starting from 25 thousand dollars, which is an amount equal to about 11 million Sudanese pounds.”

He revealed that many Sudanese citizens have sold their homes recently and opted to migrate to Egypt and Turkey, motivated mostly by the security turmoil, the decline in economic conditions, and the lack and weakness of services that followed the December 2018 revolution.

Collapse and Migrations

Economic researcher Abdul Latif Ahmed attributed the reasons for the decline in the prices of apartments, land, and houses to large supply, lack of demand, and the relative stability of the dollar compared to what had been happening previously.

He told AlTaghyeer that many Sudanese are looking to sell their homes and buy outside in Egypt and Turkey, thereby contributing to the increased supply increased and decreased demand.

The economic researcher revealed that very large capitals have leaked out of Sudan, and that these funds were directed to trade in real estate, cars, gold, and currency.

Among the many factors affecting the current housing prices is the economic downfall currently plaguing the country.

Ahmed told AlTaghyeer that the collapse and instability of Sudanese currency pushes citizens to save their money in fixed assets, and therefore most Sudanese prefer to keep their money in real estate.

“Sometimes you don’t win much, but you won’t lose in the end.”

Behaviors of a Bygone Era

The economist says that the more the supply decreases and the demand increases, the prices rise, and the trend of hoarding and monopolizing plots of land has increased in the past decades.

He revealed that there can be one person who has a monopoly over dozens of plots of land and apartments as a kind of escape from real investment in the productive sectors for the risks that exist in them, thereby transforming all capital “to the benefit of parasitic brokers only.”

Monopoly over land and apartments – as per Abdul Latif— comes from a certain group and certain people who leave them either empty without renting them or allocate them to expatriates, heavily affecting market prices and increasing rent prices.

The economist pointed out that this behavior had emerged in the time of the bygone era – the regime of the ousted Omar al-Bashir— and that there were great political names that traded in land, built homes, and bought lands and farms for millions of pounds, and monopolized them for trading.

Abdul Latif said that those people “spoiled the economic situation in the country. They did not let the market mechanism determine the price of the dollar, gold, lands and housing, and brokers drifted along with them because they want their personal benefit.”

According to Abdul Latif, the plots of land became a commodity to be bought and sold, and monopolized in the long and short term, and the matter was exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure in the states and other cities, which made Khartoum the destination for all residents of the states to obtain services, starting with treatment, studies, universities, job opportunities and so on.

Khartoum now has a population of nearly nine million people, which has raised the demand for real estate.

“It is unfortunate that the real estate market has become a competition of another kind; prestige. Some areas in Khartoum have turned into a place of social ostentation, distinguished, though the services provided are sometimes the same.”

2022 Forecast

Kinan Awad, a middle man, explained that the price of houses in southern Khartoum in the neighborhoods of Al-Azhari, Andalus, and Al-Salama range between 35-45 million pounds for ordinary houses, and the number increases if the building is of the loadbearing, columned, larger area, or the apartment building type.

He told AlTaghyeer that the areas south of Khartoum, specifically the aforementioned three, were not affected much by the decline in terms of the fact that their prices were not high in the first place.

With regard to rental prices, Kinan stressed that they were not affected at all by the economic conditions and the recession in the market for the sale of apartments, houses, and lands.

The middle man explained that rents are rising in accordance with the market situation, and have currently reached astronomical figures, and affirmed that in some areas transactions are done only in dollars.

Kinan predicted that the year 2022 would witness the largest increase in rent prices, in that most of the owners of apartments and houses were renting at prices they had considered to be very low and, in trying to keep pace with the market, they hope to set up prices that are appropriate until the year 2023.

Mixed numbers

Ayman Abdo, the owner of a real estate agency, says that the price per square meter in Kafoury’s “Square 5” ranges between 100 and 130 thousand pounds, while the price per square meter in Square 9 ranges between 300 and 500 dollars, and the price of a single-storey prefab house is 230,000 dollars.

The price of a plot of 300 meters – what is classified as third degree in some neighborhoods – ranges between 20-25 million pounds, and a one-story prefab house ranges from 30 to 33 million pounds, according to the area and features.

The owner of one of the agencies confirmed that the price per square meter in the areas of Al-Mamoura east of Khartoum’s Sixty Street ranges between 130 to 150 thousand pounds, in the 300 meter areas in square 84.

The price per square meter in Khartoum’s Riyadh ranges between 900 to 1200 dollars, and in Arkawit between 180 to 200 thousand pounds, and a prefab house from a ground floor in an area of ​​​​400 meters ranges between 280 to 300 thousand dollars.

Overlap

Economist Muhammad al-Nayer says that real estate in Sudan falls within the service sector, due to the national GDP originally consisting of three sectors:  industrial, agricultural, and service sector.

Al-Nayer stressed that real estate affects the overall economy in terms of building and construction.

He indicated that real estate was also affected by the decisions of the Central Bank of Sudan previously issued to prevent banks from real estate financing in favor of agricultural financing, bearing in mind that the real estate sector does not depend mainly and only on banks for its financing.

The economist added that the economic crisis that hit the country led most Sudanese to deal with real estate as a way to store money.

“The citizen freezes his money by buying real estate, so this money is not pumped into the economic wheel and remains frozen,” he said.

The process of freezing real estate leads to speculation, after which the citizen buys four or five real estate plots to sell after prices double.

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