NHE’s Mariental Houses Expensive

THE National Housing Enterprise (NHE) denied through the media this week that its houses built at Mariental were sub-standard and unaffordable.

Residents of the town, however, are shocked at the prices charged for homes under the NHE’s Creditlink option.

Although this option forms part of the Mass Housing programme and utilises funds under this initiative, it is a continuation of the commercial arm of the NHE through which houses are sold – mostly to qualifying civil servants – above cost.

This is unlike the Mass Housing programme homes referred to as ‘social housing’, which are subsidised by Government for up to 60%. These low-cost two-bedroom houses are designed for people who earn around N$2 500 per month.

At Mariental, the low-income houses cost N$208 000 to build, but the recipient pays only N$91 000, or roughly N$600 per month.

The cost of Creditlink homes, on the other hand, has become the talk of the town since the completion and handover of 21 houses at the town late in December.

The houses come in four types – the two bedroom ‘Core 8’ at N$421 749 the ‘Falcon’ with three bedrooms at a price of N$505 838 followed by the ‘Naute’ at N$549 986 and the most expensive ‘Onduli’ – a two-bedroom conventional double-brick house at N$590 348.

At the handover of the houses, the town’s chief executive officer Paul Nghiwilepo told Nampa then that the NHE’s mark-up on the houses “was definitely too high”.

Residents are particularly shocked at the cost of the houses, as these houses are located in the Aimablaagte suburb of the town.

A civil servant told Nampa on Wednesday that it was impossible that a house there on a small erf could be so expensive.

The resident, who asked not to be named, owns a two-bedroom house on a large erf in Mariental town. “My house is much bigger than any of those houses, and it is situated on an erf of more than 1 000 square metres in a good, quiet area of Mariental. A year ago, my house was valued by the bank for N$400 000,” the resident told this reporter.

She bought the house for N$112 000 nearly 10 years ago. Recently, another three-bedroom house in the town area was evaluated by a local bank at N$ 350 000.

The house, situated on 500 square metres, is roughly four-years-old and approximately the size of the NHE’s three-bedroom ‘Falcon’.

A bank official at Mariental said the rates of the NHE houses are shocking.

“I think it is a new high in prices in our area – and that for a company who is mandated to provide affordable housing,” he said on condition of anonymity as he was not at liberty to speak for the bank. The opinion of another bank is also that the NHE houses are too expensive.

The official, who deals with home loans, shared that a client recently sought aice from the bank on an independent valuation of her newly-acquired NHE house.

The client had raised concerns about the size, cost and locality of the house.

“I personally think the NHE houses are a rip-off,” he declared. The official said inflated prices such as these also affect future housing markets.

“Houses are already a pipe dream for many, but it can certainly get even worse with the majority of employed people being unable to ever own a home in their lifetimes,” he stressed.

However, with a waiting list of 525 people at Mariental, the NHE houses are in great demand.

The general lack of houses at the town and the never-ending unavailability of serviced land mean that many families are simply too desperate to let the opportunity of a roof over their heads pass them by – irrespective of the lifelong cost. – Nampa

Source : The Namibian