"A new category of buyers is emerging"

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The 2016-17 Budget restored hope to the real estate sector. It is now up to the operators to give life to the projects, according to Philippe de Beer, manager of Park Lane Properties.

What is the mood of the operators since the announcement of the budget measures?

The budget speech was very well received by the operators and actors of the sector. We felt a real willingness from the government to facilitate access to property for an emerging middle class, with reductions in registration fees across the board for projects offering units at less than Rs 6 million. The mood is relatively good but the challenge is, of course, the affair of the promoters and operators of the sector. It is up to them to take advantage of these measures to design projects meeting this demand. One of the key measures was the announcement to expand the acquisition of apartments in Ground + 2 buildings to foreign citizens without the restrictions that exist today, that is to say they are in possession of an authorization occupancy, acquire only one apartment for their principal residence, without having the right to rent it.

The announcement to expand the right to non-citizens to buy several apartments, still in buildings in Ground + 2, but not necessarily in possession of an authorization of occupation and with the possibility now of being able to put them in rental, was very well received as it met a growing demand. We quickly began to receive many requests from non-residents who love our island, already spending several months of the year, but do not necessarily intend to live in Mauritius more than six months a year. We do not realise that this has a very positive effect on the development of certain regions of the island and on the economy: foreigners create jobs, spend and invest. The announcement foreshadowed a very positive spin-off in terms of foreign capital inflows and is likely to boost construction, with the positive effects on the economy that we know when this is the case. A new category of purchasers of apartments began to make themselves known in recent weeks, for apartments (built or for sale on plan) that did not necessarily find buyers. This has had a very positive effect. The foreign press began to relay information and we received many requests, and not necessarily, contrary to what may be thought, for very expensive properties.

There is a very large supply of apartments on the market today, well beyond the demand, and this would have been very positive for the real estate market. "A new category of acquirers is emerging". The 2016-17 Budget restored hope to the real estate sector. For Philippe de Beer, manager of Park Lane Properties, it is now up to the operators to give life to the projects. "There are quite a few projects responding to varied demands in prices, in different regions"

Some promoters who did not envisage projects suddenly saw the opportunities to respond to this new demand, which again would have a positive impact on the manufacturers and therefore the employment in this field. But, unfortunately, we hear in recent days that the government could reverse its decision.

Right now we are seeing a lack of real estate projects. What is it?

On the contrary, I see that there are quite a few projects responding to varying demands in prices, in different regions. But the question that interests us is what are the serious projects, with promoters who can be trusted to provide a satisfactory quality according to the proposed selling prices. I think the debate is there. We see that purchasers, whatever their purchasing budget, are increasingly cautious when buying on plan since there have been unpleasant surprises these past years.

There is a perception that the authorities are focusing too much on Smart Cities, to the detriment of real estate...

No, I do not think that’s a problem. The government’s role is to put in place measures to help some development sectors take off or major projects to be implemented. That is what he did in particular by putting in place legislation on Smart Cities. As I said earlier, the government announced measures to boost the housing market for the middle class. He played his part. It is up to the operators to implement the projects and to develop them.

To what extent does the stagnation of the economy affect the sector?

A growing economy continues to influence the health of the real estate sector. But for several years now we have known that we must be satisfied with a growth of 3 to 4%, which remains quite honorable for a small economy like ours, which is strongly influenced by Europe and the crises ’she crosses. Given this reality, we have to manage and our country does very well. We could have been in a much more precarious situation. Our country continues to grow, our infrastructure improves year after year. We see constructions all over the island, be it individual constructions, small projects, or even large-scale private and public projects. We’re doing pretty well.

Let us return to this emerging middle class phenomenon. How does this situation benefit the real estate industry?

There are now enough products on the market to meet the demand of this emerging middle class, whether new or old. If these potential purchasers could be offered quality real estate products at very attractive prices and matching their purchasing budget in the areas they were most interested in, many more would be Ownership of a property. But it is a challenge because the price of land in the regions sought is not cheap. Moreover, if we want to offer satisfactory quality, developers will be forced to sell their units at prices exceeding the budgets of many of these buyers. But it is possible.

What projects are being marketed these days by Park Lane Properties?

At Park Lane Properties, we attach great importance to the quality of the projects we market. It is therefore a question of associating with promoters of quality. When a customer comes to see us for a project, he knows that we have carefully selected the project we are marketing. That said, we are currently commercializing residential projects in the center of the island, in Ebène, in the west on the Tamarin mountain, and in Albion, among others. We also market various projects for foreign buyers, which once again we carefully select, depending on the quality of the developer and his team and the construction company. It is not just about selling a property on plan and disappearing from the sale signed. We accompany our customers until the keys are handed over. "A growing economy continues to influence the health of the real estate industry."
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