Real estate feels the covid-19 pandemic pressure

By Carolyne B. Atangaza | By Monitor

There are many questions arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Is it preventable? How fast is it spreading? How dangerous is it? Will a treatment or even a cure be found in time? But what most real estate stakeholders want to know is how long it will last and what impact it will leave on the sector.

So far this has proven to be a hard year for the economy. Economists are predicting a recession and a lot of small businesses are facing the prospect of low to no revenue. These are the people that participate in the sector because most purchases in Uganda tend to be self-financed.

Glimmer of hope
Robert Okwir sits in his property management office, now eerily empty of the usual traffic of brokers, clients and agents. His phone which usually rings nonstop is silent too. However, he refuses to despair. He says his faith was rewarded when he managed to close a sale on a three bedroom bungalow in Buwatte early last week.
“There are still people willing to buy. People will always need somewhere to live and others will need to sell. In fact, some investors are taking advantage of the situation and picking up properties at bargain prices. But that is at a very small rate,” Okwir remarks. He however, concedes that the industry has been hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic and might take a while to recover.

Okwir is one of the many real estate industry stakeholders that are beginning to feel the pinch resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. For the time being, the industry experts are ambivalent; for the time being, they continue to hope for a positive break.

“The situation keeps evolving every day; people were hopeful until the President banned public transport. This has brought business to a quick stop and people are still stunned wondering what is coming next. They are yet to decide whether to push on or wait until things get better,” Okwir notes.

He admits that he has not gotten many new calls from sellers or prospective tenants. “Other brokers and I understand the situation so we are not pushing people to make commitments. As a matter of fact I have asked my employees to stay home and work virtually,” he adds.

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