Housing project prices spark public anger

The price of apartments in Myanmar’s largest housing development project, which will be sold to buyers later this year, has been met with anger from the public.

Low-cost housing is being built in Dagon Seikkan township in Yangon. StaffLow-cost housing is being built in Dagon Seikkan township in Yangon. Staff

The 120-acre Ayeyarwon development project and the 100-acre Yadanar projects in Dagon Seikkan township, will eventually provide more than 19,000 homes, according to the government. The Department of Urban and Housing Development expects the first 6000 apartments to be sold by the end of this year.

Buyers have the option of paying half the cost in installments over 10 years, U Min Htein, the department’s director general, told The Myanmar Times this week. But the absolute price has raised doubts about whether ordinary people will be able to afford to live there.

An apartment in each of the high -rise buildings is 600 square feet. The construction costs for the first batch of buildings totalled K110,000 per square foot. As the government says it does not take profits on the sale of apartments, the price for the new apartments will also be set at K110,000 per square foot. Public criticism erupted at the news of the price – over K60 million for one apartment in a housing project aimed at ordinary people.

“The buildings are high storey constructions, and the [construction] cost means that we had to charge over K100,000 per square foot,” said U Min Htein, adding that the high price was due in part to the kyat weakening against the dollar. Myanmar imports much of its construction materials from abroad, and construction contracts are typically denominated in US dollars.

In response to the high cost, U Min Htein said the government had amended its sales system rather than reducing the outright price.

“We’ve discussed that people who are first offered the apartments can pay 50 percent of the full price within eight months, and the remaining 50pc in installments over 10 years,” he said.

The prices for the Ayeyarwon and Yadanar apartments are still high compared to the nearby Yuzana Garden City housing complex and Sittaung local housing project – also located in Dagon Seikkan township.

The K60 million price tag for the Ayeyarwon and Yadanar apartments do not include monthly fees for housing maintenance, said U Mya Than, a real estate agent for the Yuzana Garden City housing complex. He felt there would be few buyers at those prices.

“Who can afford K60 million to come and live there?,” he asked. “People can still buy an apartment for K15 million in Yuzana. The monthly maintenance fees [for the new projects] are unlikely to be small, given the high story buildings.” Yuzana apartments are around 450 square feet. But these are only five-storey buildings, and do not require maintenance fees.

Apartments at the Shwe Lin Ban local housing project in Hlaing Thar Yar township were sold at K12 million each starting in October 2015. These apartments are over 300 square feet. Buyers of those apartments could also pay using a mixture of up-front cash and installment payments. Construction companies partnered with the Construction and Housing Development Bank to sell the apartments, which required a 30pc advance payment. The remaining 70pc could be paid in installments lasting up to five years.

The Ayeyarwon and Yadanar projects also involve building infrastructure such roads, markets, schools, bus lines as well as amusement parks. There are 49 apartment blocks in total, each with 18 floors, although only 11 are being built in the first stage of construction.

“We are trying to finish up six buildings out of [the initial 11] by March and the remaining five buildings by December,” U Min Htein, adding that the government expects to sell 6000 apartments from the first 11 buildings this year.

The project was 40pc complete at the end of 2015, according to the government, and will be the largest housing project in Myanmar by number of apartments. The Ministry of Construction plans to build 1 million housing units across 81 cities in Myanmar between 2012 and 2031.

Source: Myanmar Times

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