Gen Muhammad Saad Khattak
The subject of real estate in Pakistan though of great potential and opportunities is often viewed by the common folks with contempt and suspicion. As a developing country and home to over 200 million people, the scope and magnitude of this industry is on the rise offering tremendous opportunities to potential developers and real estate agents in the field.
As of today DHAs and Bahria are the only two entities across the country providing investment security and reasonable quality services to its residents. Of late however, there are other potential aspirants in the field having requisite expertise and desire to positively contribute in this vital area of nation building.
Like all other related government dependent entities, developing and building industry is also not free from issues at various levels and tiers. It would therefore be essential to first identify the snags and shortfalls with this industry before any worthwhile recommendations are offered for a promising future.
The real estate industry in Pakistan is afflicted with some of the following critical issues. One, after 70 years of independence, till today we have not been able to computerize land record across the country.
Resultantly, neither the records are considered authentic nor transactions ever smooth thus serving as a major demotivating factor for honest potential developers and businessmen.
Two, lust for earning money by the developers and field agents by hook or crook in shortest possible time serves as the only motivation rather any consideration for extending service to the community.
Three, lack of vision and requisite qualification and expertise within the available developers across the country keeps the development at a minimum acceptable level of standard, in most cases even below minimum required standards.
Four, outdated, complexed/lengthy legal and taxation laws/procedures is an agonizingly demotivating factor leading to unwarranted governmental interferences both at departmental and individual levels encouraging developers to adopt shortcuts and malpractices much at the cost of country’s exchequer and individual stakeholders.
Five, no worthwhile basic parameters and standards laid centrally and nonexistence of any training institution for the grooming of potential developers and real estate handlers across the country makes the field open to every category of people by and large found wanting in vision, aesthetics and above all national pride. Six, abject poverty, continuous slide down in education standards leads to serious dearth of quality resource for potential developers aspiring to extend quality service to the community. Seven, lack of or outdated bylaws across the spectrum, poor quality of construction/building material used by and large by poor quality contractors whose sole aim is to mint money subjects the projects to compromises on quality and delivery. Eight, variety of complexities mentioned above makes the developers vulnerable to and dependent on political and bureaucratic big wigs leading to unwanted interferences much at the cost of quality and service delivery to the end users.
What therefore needs to be done to make the industry attractive for quality people while adding more value and service for the end users? One, its high time that the federal and provincial governments attend at priority to the computerization and documentation aspect of real estate across the country.
A system for automatically updating family and individual ownerships of immovable property will play vital role in the overall process. Two, formulation of fresh laws and compatible updating of existing laws and rules commensurate to the need of time and environment is an inescapable necessity.
Three, providing an autonomous status to the housing and building industry independent of governmental strings in routine affairs will greatly contribute towards efficiency and quality in this promising industry.
Four, for attracting quality people across its entire spectrum, the government has to devise innovative ways of incentives and encouragement besides establishing state of the art training and grooming institutions across the entire length and breadth of the country.
Five, for reducing political interferences and influences, regulations have to be devised while judiciously implementing existing rules to bar public office holder’s active engagement in such like business ventures. Six, in general terms the deteriorating quality of education in badly impacting on the availability of quality human resource to this promising industry of the future.
The governments have to undertake drastic measures on war footings to improve the quality of education imparted.
In this regard governments run schools and institutions need priority attention. Seven, there is a dire requirement from within the society for positive, well-meaning people having requisite motivation to think beyond making money alone while taking solace and satisfaction in extending quality service to the clients.
Eight, quite a great number of Pakistanis abroad working in real estate development or related fields need to be incentivized, motivated and encouraged to come back and fill the vacuum that exist both in quality and quantity as well.
Their joining the field will not only professionalize the industry while meaningfully contributing in quality, will also be a great effort in encouraging our expatriates’ positive engagements in this vital industry of the country.
The potential associated with this upcoming industry can only be realized if rightful measures are taken both at government and individual levels for bridging the widening gaps.
Adding the element of service to the community rather than perusing it as a business to make money alone will positively change the image of this vital industry in the country.
—The writer is President Graana Group of Companies and Director General Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies.