Sunday, April 02, 2006

Who can afford a house?

The last couple of years have seen astronomical rises the prices of real estate in Amman and major cities in Jordan. While the reason for this rise is not clear, it's effects on young families looks to be profound.

Moderately priced apartments are difficult to find, with most easily falling into the 70000 JD range in Amman (Examples here) and 50000 JD in Irbid and Zarqa. Of course, within Amman, the idea of a small house is out of the question for most people. The department of statistics says that more then 70% of housing units in Amman are apartments, with more single housing units in other areas.

Now, the question that is being asked is how can people afford these prices, given that the average income of a Jordanian family is less than 6000 JD's a year, with average food expenditures of 2200 JD's, 1600 JD for housing and 800 JD for transportation. Essentially, it would be impossible to live a standard life with this level of income and to save a substantial amount of money. Payments for a bank loan for the total amount (assuming that it is possible to get one) would be more than the total income of the average Jordanian.

The number of new families established in Jordan in 2004 was about 54000 families, requiring that number of new homes. The government builds about 6000 units pr year for low income families at affordable prices. This hardly creates a dent in the demand. Moreover, rents are rising as well, with most Jordanians preferring to own their own home.

Most investors in the housing field blame rising costs for land. This rise in costs has led to the sprawl of the city towards the west, north and south, where prices were previously lower. It looks like further outward expansion would be difficult, and would stretch the transportation, water, sanitation and energy infrastructure even further. An obvious approach is to concentrate on areas outside Amman. Madinat Al Sharq is an ambitious project to develop a model city east of Zarqa. The project is envisioned to house about 500 000 people by 2025. However, as the web site describes the project, it is aimed towards "middle and upper income housing". Presumably, prices will be lower than in Amman, although enticing people to move to Zarqa will probably be challenging. It seems to me that the only reasonable approach towards the dilemma we are facing is to encourage growth outside of Amman. While this will be difficult, it is a national challenge. To make it work, we will need to invest heavily in modern public transportation systems. The current state of affairs will not be conducive if transportation ends up eating up significant parts of people's income.

As for young families, it looks like their options will stay limited. These will include smaller apartments, in more remote and less desirable areas. If the transportation system stays the way it is, even this will not be an option.

25 Comments:

At 1:17 AM, Blogger OmAr said...

I guess we all feel that way in Jordan, the situation is unbelievable!

I don't agree with that the reason is unknown, I guess when you want to sell a house and a Jordanian comes to buy it, he will negotiate for days, on the other hand, the illeterate Iraqi(those who cause the problem) will offer double the price you're asking for that he has never heard of the concept of money before...you will sell it to the Iraqi I guess, a few tens of sellers like you, and the prices will go up astronomically!!!

 
At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Luai said...

What's wrong with making money and going with the highest bidder? Just because a Jordanian is offering less, we shouldn't sell to the problematic Iraqi's? It is against the law to make money from selling land. The prices are practically doubling every year in many places and those who are looking for nest eggs have already gotten in on it. It's not only the Iraqis, but Jordanian expats who are buying. It just simple economics of supply and demand.

And just how do you think people afford the Hummers or the S-500's? They probably sold one of their grandfathers dunums in Amman for 500K just to buy the stupid truck.

 
At 7:32 AM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Omar: The real estate market transactions last year were about 3 billion dinars. According to the lands department, only 3% of the transactions were to non-Jordanians. I find it difficult to concepualize how non-Jordanians have driven prices up like this.

Luai: I agree that trying to stop market forces would be futile. All I am saying is that reasonable alternatives should be available. If this means places like Madinat al Sharq, then so be it. But it should include offering viable transportation services.

I agree that spending all this money on Hummers is silly.

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger salam said...

This is such an important issue that you are discussing,Khalaf!And this will be such a long reply so I apologize beforehand.If I can speak from my own experience as someone who has just bought an apartment,and as an architect,this could give you a real life example on how prices went crazy those last couple of years.I got married 6 years ago,the first year we lived abroad,when we came back we had a dream of one day building our own house,so we thought we'd rent an apartment till we have money to buy a land and get a loan to build.In the following five years we paid an estimated figure of 20.000 jd in rent.If at that time we bought an aprtment we could have found a decent one for 50.000 jds,but the dream was to build our own seperate house,so we didn't.Of course the dream was shattered a couple of years later with the beginning of the rise in prices,before any foreign interference started.The new goal was to buy an aprtment,since banks were making things easier to finance houses.we have been looking since then and prices have been going up drastically,foreign buyers have had a role but I can not say that they are the ones to blame for the boom .Last year I found an apartment,ground floor 200m2 with tiny garden in um sumaq,which is not a really prime location in amman for 70.000 jds and I thought that's the one.There was a problem with the municipality about wanting to make the road wider so the owner asked us to wait till the problem was settled..3 weeks later,the municipality takes 1.5 meters from the garden's 5 meter width to make the road wider,and the apartments price goes UP!!TO 95.000 JD...IMAGINE!that was 3 weeks later.Now for the same amount (and even a little more,we were able to buy an aprtment that is fourth floor and in khalda,which is even further from amman center than that one!!and this was a catch,everyone agrees!!see how the figures have gone uphill?now as an architect,i will gve you an idea about the houses we have been working on,in the last few years the biggest apartment we designed was something around 300 m2,anyone who wanted a bigger house went for a villa then,for the last two years,we have deigned apartments that were more than 500m2..(often for old couples who live alone!with 3 maids )people who were able to afford villas in abdoon for 150.000 jds at one point,are now paying 350.000 jd to live in an apartmet building with six or seven apartmets in it.This,to me,is beyond belief,but it is something I see everyday.The smallest apartment we designed a few years back was something like 140m2,anything smaller was just unsellable,even in eastern parts of amman.In the last couple of years we have deisgned a housing project in abu nsair with around 30 buildings,each consisting of 16 apartments,60 m2 area each,this figure was unheard of before,and it contains two bedrooms,two bathrooms,living room and kitchen.This kind of small aprtment was not an accepable thing for a jordanian family with maybe 4 kids and often a granparent or two,but they sold like hot cakes,for around 15.000 jd..again,did you notice the change in areas,and in prices?
one dunum in khalda could have been bought for 100.000 jd five years back,now look for something good and offer 350.000jd for a dunum and no one is willing to sell since the prices 3am tighli as they tell you,people want to wait,and make more money.it is better to sell a piece of land than to build apartments and sell them,they say,more feasible.so the solution is as you said,first of all lies in better transportation systems,and also in improving the conditions of living outside amman,the centralization of services has to stop somewhere,people should not al need to live in amman,or commute to amman on daily basis,or else the congstion would abe a distracting force very soon.
sorry again..that was really long!I had a post a long time ago about this:
http://reflections-allmine.blogspot.com/2005/11/at-last-we-are-buying-house.html
if I left you time to read it,sorry.

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Salam: Thank you for sharing. I hope that you are enjoying your new home.

 
At 8:42 PM, Anonymous den said...

Hi Khalaf, I read your blog with interest about the economic situation in Jordan. I hyperlinked to the income stats page; do you know who puts these out. I am doing some research and would like to document the numbers listed, but I also need to reference who is putting out these numbers.

Thanks!
den
dwmerd@hotmail.com

 
At 4:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the price of a dunum now outside of Amman....

 
At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

iam a usa citizen living in new york,can anyone tell me the price of a dunm in an area called rabaheah in jordan costs? thank u

 
At 6:58 PM, Anonymous akon said...

It is the same in the NYC. Crazy

 
At 5:56 AM, Blogger Noura said...

I leave in U.S.A am looking to buy a land in Amman,but since 5 years all what i heard that the prices is going up on terms of buying,but what is new in Jordan that make people pay all that big amount of money to own a property ,that's crazy.I leave in U.S.A i own my own Villa which i have a lawn & i have montly payments but in another hand i have my job which i have a perfect income that affords me to have an over standard life & that's for most of the people her it is easy to find a job & have a good income but prices in property went up on the last 5 years also for no reason but people even with their jobs they were not able to pay their payments(most of the people in U.S.A they have free eduvation,free medical insurance,also they have goverment help for food and etc...
but the economy went down people know they are not able to buy like before situation are worst .Can someone tell me what are the good things in Jordan to have that increase on prices if they are telling me that the avarege income is 6000$ how could that could be realistic,i thing that is unfair for any citizen in jordan also i know that most buyers in jordan are from abroad they leave everything abroad having a dream to have a good life in their countries they sale everything &they go back to Jordan they have to face the reality from the moment they are in the Airpot i don't blame people in Jordan they want to make their living but then everybody that goes to Jordan they face that they have to put almost all what they have in an appartment,then they have to pay for private schools because their kids cannot understand the curriculum also they have to buy a car costing triple price and then after all that spending they try to find a Job or to open a business & thats when they face reality that whatever they work they will never be abl;e to afford a normal life.Do you thing that is fair all those people they make back out of Jordan they cannot afford to live with that increase of price.Do you think that when those people stop buying and you know that most of those buyers are for people that are abroad do you think that prices will continue raising up ,Think about it & be realistic what is going on in Jordan is crazy

 
At 5:33 PM, Blogger Tariq said...

how much would it cost to build a 4 bedroom villa on a 350 m2 plot of land, in shafa badran?
many thanks

 
At 2:09 AM, Blogger Riz said...

Hi Salaam all, I just came across this blog. I'm actually marrying a Jordanian, if the parents give their permision, who lives in a village just outide Irdid. I'm surprised at how expensive properties are. If i was to but one, I need a sea view, and there isn't much of a coast unfortunatley.

Riz

 
At 5:27 AM, Blogger deirdre g said...

For me everyone can afford a price except to those who are poor like me.

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