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Affordable housing

Manasa Kalouniviti
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ONE of the reasons Fijians are migrating is they can't afford properties in Fiji; the prices of Fijian homes are just so high.

Reginald Jokhan, the managing director of Jokhan Realtors Ltd, and also a citizen who is greatly concerned with the affordability of houses in Fiji, made the comment during an interview with this newspaper on the issue of affordable housing.

"So my answer to the Government of the day is; let's secure the future for our families here and make homes affordable. There's so much vacant land around which is ideal for development," Mr Jokhan said.

"So what the Government needs to do is step in immediately, put able people on these housing boards and see what they can come up with.

"And give squatters and the average income-earner the first chance to obtain their own homes.

"Government has the money and we in the real estate business can source out land for them to develop for this," he said.

Mr Jokhan said he would not disagree with results of the study by USP Professor Vijay Naidu who said according to a study he and his students undertook, they found that real estate prices in Suva over the years 2004 to 2012 had increased by 1000 per cent.

Mr Jokhan said it would have been more if they took freehold alone.

"But what one needs to understand is this; there has been a concept and a mind-set of people saying it's all supply and demand; it's just something that's being instilled into people.

"Now when the local companies were involved in real estate in Fiji real estate prices were good; what a researcher needs to find out is what was it that made the real estate prices in Fiji soar, well the blunt answer is when overseas real estate companies were allowed to operate in Fiji, all these price increases were driven by one or two overseas real estate operators; nobody in Fiji can say that I'm wrong.

"Today our children can't even afford to buy properties but these overseas operators now own properties in Fiji," he said.

Mr Jokhan said at that time one could buy a property in Suva for about $300,000 but now it was not possible.

"If you're on a $300,000 salary today, do you think you will be able to buy a $1.5 million property; the bank will never finance you.

"So it's better to get a $30,000 salary and go and stay as a squatter.

"The research should be based on when did the real estate prices go up; everybody says it's supply and demand and that's all in the mind-set.

"But my frustration is this; our children and their children will not be able to afford owning their own properties and it will get worse in time to come."

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