Rapid Urbanisation and Growing Demand for Affordable Housing in Bangladesh
I. Introduction and Background
Bangladesh, with an estimated population of 165 million (2020), is one of the most densely populated country in South Asia. Population growth is skewed towards urban areas; urban population has doubled in less than 2 decades, (from 31 million in year 2000 to 63 million in 2019), and currently comprises almost 35% of the total population of the country. A significant increase of rural to urban migration coupled with the rising threats of climate change along the coastal belt is putting pressure on the housing situation in urban areas, resulting in growing informal housing, overcrowding and creation or expansion of slums. The demand for affordable housing units is expected to grow rapidly by 2030, when half of the population will be living in the urban areas. Bangladesh needs to provide adequate housing at a pace fast enough to meet this growing demand, particularly in urban areas.
According to an assessment of the housing sector undertaken by IFC1, approximately 11.9 million urban households (69%) reside in informal housing. Currently the unmet demand for affordable housing units for lower and middle-income households is estimated to be 6 million units, which is expected to grow to 10.5 million by the year 2030. Hence on average, 249,000 housing units will be required annually to meet the growing demand. In contrast, the total housing supply was 31,500 units in 2018, out of which 17,000 were provided by the private sector developers – an 89% supply gap which basically met less than 1% of the outstanding demand for affordable housing. Even if the organised private sector developers triple their annual supply of housing units to 51,000 units per year, they will only be able to serve just over 20% of the annual demand from the target households by 2030.
II. Supply Side Issues that Inhibit Development of Affordable Housing Sector
There are supply and demand side issues which limit development of the housing sector. On the supply side, the very low interest from the builders in catering the lower middle and middle-income population can be traced down to the issues and challenges noted below:
1. Lackluster state of housing finance
To meet the growing demand for affordable housing, home loans worth USD 2.52 billion will have to be disbursed annually. The estimated existing financing requirement for 3.5 million affordable housing units is USD 58.8 billion or BDT 4.9 trillion. However, there has not been much of a development in the housing sector. Although banks do have a housing loan portfolio, but it is miniscule compared to overall banking portfolio, at just 6.46% of total advances. Among the total assets of Bank and NBFI, role of housing sector is very small in comparison to international markets. In France and Belgium, households’ housing related debt adds up to almost 35 percent of GDP, slightly lower than the 42 percent average in the Euro area2. On the other hand, in Bangladesh, advances to Housing sector add up to BDT 534,095 million (USD 6.21 Billion)3, equivalent to only around 4.4% of GDP. In addition, a very small percentage of these loans is actually given for affordable housing, despite significant demand in this segment and the large gap which is present.
To meet the growing demand for affordable housing, home loans worth USD 2.52 billion will have to be disbursed annually. The estimated existing financing requirement for 3.5 million affordable housing units is USD 58.8 billion or BDT 4.9 trillion.
The delivery of affordable housing units by private sector developers is inhibited by 1) rapidly increasing land prices in urban areas; 2) weak regulatory delivery for necessary clearances, registrations and approvals; 3) land ownership issues; and 4) lack of interest/demand for units in peripheral areas. Further, mortgage finance penetration in Bangladesh’s housing market is low at 3% (vs 10% in India and 50% to 70% in developed countries); with housing finance portfolio comprising only 8.82 % of the total loans of the financial sector (Sep 2020). While home loans worth USD 1.15 billion are being annually disbursed, only a very small share of these loans is given for affordable housing units. This deficit stems from: 1) majority of the low/lower middle-income groups are engaged in informal economy and do not have bankable documentation; 2) non-existent foreclosure practices and misleading property valuation; 3) financial institutions not having access to long term local currency funding to match the longer tenor of mortgage financing; 4) restrictions on foreign borrowing by NBFIs; and 5) strict directives from the regulator to finance other priority sectors along with caps on housing portfolio.
2. Imperatives for prioritising the housing sector and acknowledging its thrust potential
The housing sector in general, is not considered as a priority sector at the national policy level, despite the massive thrusts it may potentially provide on multiple fronts. Development of the housing sector has numerous direct and indirect multiplier impacts on economic growth in any country. IFC’s experience indicate that development of the housing sector has been instrumental in rebuilding economies in many countries post natural disasters. Affordable housing construction in Bangladesh would not only lead to meeting the growing demand of low/middle-income segments but would also lead to, increase in tax collection through permits, transaction and corporate taxes, as well as direct job creation and development of the construction sector and interconnected sectors including: 1) construction material; 2) related services (brokers, finance and insurance providers); 3) house maintenance; 4) utilities; 5) labor, 6) financing; 7) spatial planning and policies; 8) consumer spending on house appliances; etc. – altogether contributing to the GDP of the country. It also serves as the means to ensure better income distribution in the economy and support Bangladesh’s vision for inclusive growth, as real estate asset holding by the middle-income households is generally most important asset for most households. On the onset of Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict that has led to supply chain and output shocks globally, housing must be the cornerstone of economic recovery strategies.
Affordable housing construction in Bangladesh would not only lead to meeting the growing demand of low/middle-income segments but would also lead to, increase in tax collection through permits, transaction and corporate taxes, as well as direct job creation and development of the construction sector and interconnected sectors…
3. Other Supply Side Issues that Deter an Enabling Environment
a. Absence of long-term funds and asset-liability mismatch
At the current 15–20-year tenure for housing loans, and the lack of long-term funding available for such loans, financial institutions (FIs) can only manage a small portfolio. FIs have to deploy short-term funds because they are mostly relying on 6 months to 1-year deposits which they are intermediating on 15–20-year terms. A 20- 25-year mortgage loan will have to be refinanced 7-8 times, which creates uncertainties in terms of cost and interest rate guarantees. Given that the government does not issue long term bonds, and the short-term financings to be utilised may have varying interest rates at different periods of time, it is difficult to provide long term mortgaged options in a significant way. Such asset-liability mismatch is very challenging and restricts the banking industry from getting into the real estate business at a large scale.
b. Restrictions on high-rise buildings
Restrictions on high-rise buildings prevent builders from undertaking affordable housing projects. Housing in urban areas for the low- and middle-income households should be in the form of high-rise buildings, given the very high land cost. But restrictions through building permit codes prevent builders from undertaking such projects. This issue should be looked at with special focus on increasing supplies of affordable housing in Bangladesh in major cities.
c. Cost of construction materials and other inputs
One of the challenges that construction companies face is that it is difficult to complete projects within projected costs/budgets due to wide fluctuations in prices of construction materials. Construction material prices have increased by 10%-30% due to supply side disruptions during the pandemic. The use of conventional bricks also increases the costs and have adverse environmental impact. Furthermore, it is also tough to find skilled labor and engineers. Costs also go up due to transport and accommodation costs of the workers. The cost of construction is the same in rural areas as that in urban areas, despite the income level being drastically different, as the materials used are the same. Often times, striking the right balance between quality and affordability becomes a challenge.
d. Lack of use of technology and green efficient building methods
Lack of use of cost-efficient methods, and capacity to use technology raises the cost of projects. Technology can only be used when it is cost effective to make it affordable and green at the same time. In India, the use of cost-efficient design and materials which are environment friendly enable construction firms to construct multi storied buildings with small flats at considerably low cost. Around the world, construction companies are using 4th generation or 5th generation concrete with PSI level greater than 12,000,+ hollow brinks and other concepts such as zero-net efficient treatment. In China, for instance, companies are using concrete with greater than 80,000 PSI. Cost effective design with different PSI arrangements when tried in Bangladesh failed as builders ended up spending more money than the conventional system.
e. High default risk
As the transaction costs (including registration) are high and the secondary market is not adequately developed, the default risk is particularly high for the housing finance institutions. The foreclosure system is not functional and the legal system is quite time consuming. After getting the legal verdict in 3-4 years, proper support is not provided to financial institutions to get possession of the property. The defaulter can even get a stay order and delay the verdict even further. All these issues make the mortgage market not very attractive to financial institutions.
f. Credit underwriting issues: challenges in selection
Housing finance institutions thus come across hurdles when performing credit underwriting. For small enterprises, there are lots of cash transactions which cannot be officially verified, with little banking transactions. Customers who are self-employed may not have proper documents to show their actual income. The business may not be informal but the accounting practices of the business are generally informal, by not paying taxes altogether or understating the taxes.
g. No Central Authority for promoting housing sector and lack of initiatives
In Bangladesh there is no central ministry or agency that is responsible for housing sector development in the country. The Ministry of Housing and Public Works only focuses on public sector housing and other office building constructions. It does not have the mandate to promote private sector housing development and associated policies. RAJUK or similar city development authorities only set the building codes and associated height and base restrictions. Thus, critical constraints faced by the housing sector stakeholders in enhancing supplies of affordable housing—like availability of land for affordable housing, housing finance, green housing and numerous regulatory issues—remained mostly unattended.
h. Systematic financial support for the housing sector will be important
Currently the government is not providing any systematic support to the housing sector including for construction firms. Bangladesh Bank (BB) had introduced a scheme which provided BDT 2 million against one apartment (size set at below 1250 sq ft) for low and middle-income groups. The scheme ran for a very short time and total portfolio was around BDT 5 billion. However, there was no other scheme since then. In other countries, various types of supports and incentives are provided to the housing sector stakeholders to promote both supply and demand side of the affordable housing segment and also to the housing sector in general.
In other countries, various types of supports and incentives are provided to the housing sector stakeholders to promote both supply and demand side of the affordable housing segment and also to the housing sector in general.
i. Need for carefully thought out and facilitating policies and incentives to promote green housing construction
Although the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has mandated the generation of 20% of power in particular projects (including housing) to be met through green channels like solar power and use of eco-friendly bricks, enforcement is an issue as without the right incentives, the adoption of solar panels is low. Despite policies, investments in solar panels are wasted because these are connected to batteries which are costly and owners thus use it till the battery lasts and never replaces the battery afterwards. A simple solution is to connect that solar panel to the national grid and provide the homeowners rebates for electricity usage to incentivize them. People will only be interested in maintaining the solar panels when the solar generated power reduces their own power consumption or financially beneficial to them by getting rebates from the Power Development Board (PDB) or Rural Electrification Board (REB). The same applies for eco-friendly bricks which also faces supply side constraints as no incentive is provided for its adoption despite being made mandatory.
j. Land and property related issues
Lack of available land and high land prices is one of the biggest challenges in the large metropolitan cities of the country. The population pressure is particularly high in Dhaka, in view of its somewhat better developed infrastructure and greater opportunities/access to income sources which make the city the most sought-after destination for all people looking for new opportunities in life. That results in the highest ever real estate value in every square meter of land across all over Dhaka city. As land price constitutes about 50% –60% of the total cost for builders, the price of houses ceases to be affordable and prevents builders from delving into the affordable housing market aggressively.
Difficulties associated with unification/consolidation of small plots into large plots is an impediment to Affordable housing, which requires a large-scale project over a large land area. Such processes are very time-consuming due to protracted negotiations with numerous owners of small parcels of land. Inefficiencies in the government regulatory bodies and a lack of strong political will also make it difficult to acquiring land for large scale affordable housing projects in Bangladesh. Small scale affordable housing schemes do not get the benefit of economies of scale and unavoidably lead to higher cost.
Land record-keeping is a major hurdle, and the absence of transparency and clarity in property registration and in valuation creates legal problems. The ownership transfers are often not well documented and Islamic inheritance law furthermore makes legal ownership structure complicated and unreliable. There have been some moves toward automation and improving the regulations for auto-mutation of property ownership , but further reforms are necessary. The technical preparations in the form of comprehensive digital mapping and recording of all lands along with supporting regulations for automation would need to be accelerated further. Some coherence among the different regulators–RJSC, BB, BSEC, NBR etc.–is needed and market values need to be reflected as the taxable base and the tax rates need to come down.
k. Registration, foreclosures and other barriers
Registration, and other legal processes are tedious and disincentivizes banks to advance lending in the market. Documentation is a tedious but necessary task for real estate lending. However, it is the legal documentation where banks face the most challenge in terms of registration, approvals, and others. The process of registration can act as a hindrance in terms of bank financing. Legal processes such as takeover/foreclosure are too long and cumbersome, and banks feel uneasy regarding the whole process.
Infrastructure for second-hand market/repossession is lengthy and marred by weak underwriting and risk management. The auction market is dysfunctional. Financers thus must rely on the repayment capacity of the customers and have to be very choosy when selecting their customers because recovery is a time-consuming and very costly option. Although repossession takes 6-7 months for auto-loan, it usually takes up to 2-3 years for the housing market as there is no proper infrastructure and effective platform. Furthermore, the current mechanism is marred by weak underwriting, loan administration and risk management crisis. Actual repossession count is very low.
l. Lack of sophistication and vibrancy in the capital market
The bond market development is a prerequisite for the development of the housing mortgage market. The treasury bill and treasury bond markets do not have yield curves due to inadequate size and lack of liquidity in the government bond markets at both short and long ends. Since yields on short-term T-bill rates are low, MOF generally issues short-term debt instruments and rolls them over frequently to save interest cost for the budget. A modest amount of long-term Treasury Bonds was issued a long time ago at relatively high interest rates, and financial institutions which have those hold them as liquid assets and do not trade them at all. As a result, Bangladesh does not have a yield curve, against which corporate bonds could be benchmarked and priced accordingly.
Banks need to get into affordable housing at scales to be profitable, which will require support from the central bank. Alongside banks, business needs to be profitable for the builders too. If the builders do not find it feasible to join in and provide housing given the financing terms available, initiatives to help consumers will not be fruitful. In many countries, central banks play a central role through subsidized credit or special discount facilities to encourage/promote lending to the affordable housing segment. Bangladesh Bank also had such a special discount facility, which became quite popular but discontinued since 2013.
Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is another popular vehicle to mobilise finance to invest into real estate projects. It is a very successful instrument to raise funds for investment in the western nations and in emerging economies including India. REITs are companies that own or finance income-producing real estate across a range of property sectors. These real estate companies must meet a number of requirements to qualify as REITs. Most REITs trade on major stock exchanges, and they offer a number of benefits to investors. This market is yet to be developed in Bangladesh and the authorities may wish to look into the regulatory framework and encourage private reputed companies to start setting up publicly traded REITs and mREITs (mortgage REITs) in Bangladesh.
National Savings Schemes (NSS) instruments are extremely popular among households and institutions and effectively divest fund away from the capital market. NSS operated by the National Savings Directorate (NSD) has total assets over BDT 4 trillion and is the largest financial asset class in Bangladesh. These instruments are generally between 3–5-year tenors and are not tradable or transferable instruments. The high interest rates and low tax liability offered by the NSD instruments are diverting huge funds away from the financial institutions and away from the capital market, thereby undermining the deepening and growth potentials of the financial sector and stock market. Pension and Gratuity funds put their savings in the form of NSS instruments since there is no cap on such institutional investments. It is necessary for institutional investors like Gratuity and pension funds and insurance companies to be barred from investment in NSD instruments to develop the capital market.
m. Need for carefully thought-out strategy along with supporting policies to promote affordable housing in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Government needs to declare housing as a thrust sector and announce a comprehensive set of policies to increase the supply of affordable housing over the medium term. As part of the policy, the authorities need to define what will constitute “Affordable Housing” so that incentives can be geared towards the affordable housing segment to incentivize builders and financial institutions to increase supply of affordable housing and their financing.
n. Lack of discourses on green housing
Greening of houses should get more mentions in discourses to gain more traction and acceptance. It is usually unheard of, and very few realtors showed interest with such ideas. Nevertheless, greening of houses appears to be a promising initiative, and cumulatively, it has high impact and thus should be incorporated widely into future housing projects. If appropriately planned and financed, green housing costs only 1%–5 % higher in terms of construction cost, which may be recouped by the buyers over the next 3-5-year period through reduced utility and financing costs.
o. Absence of general rules/guidelines on how FIs/NBFIs should approach the housing market
For all the stakeholders engaged in the housing market, there should be policy guidelines for the financial institutions on how they will engage in housing finance. Bank to bank business practices may be different, but it would be beneficial if some general rules/guidelines could be developed on how the financial institutions should engage in this market segment. Proper partnership models are a necessity, and clear instructions and guidance will be helpful. It is also important to make such rules/guidelines available to all relevant stakeholders.
Green and climate resilient housing segment is still at its infancy, but proper planning and incentives will be needed to foster development of this market segment. Satellite cities like Purbachal that are being developed need to be made greener with environmental issues at the forefront. Banks can go ahead with financing, but they require incentives for the compliance issues as compliance is quite costly.
There is need for coherence and coordination among stakeholders. There is a severe lack of coordination between relevant agencies such as RAJUK, DCCs, KDA, CDA, LGED etc. which hampers development of the sector and impedes the symmetric distribution. Further to that, they have overlapping jurisdictions. There are also zoning issues which is in the hands of RAJUK and local government authorities, who have different perspectives. None of these institutions are also looking into green housing in their respective jurisdictions and the pre-conditions that need to be established.
Lack of transparency and monitoring is a critical constraint that has impacted past initiatives and continues to hinder development of affordable housing. There were transparency issues in the selection process of the developer and the financial management process, and monitoring in past government initiatives. All the projects that government had attempted in the past, like the ‘Bhashantek’ rehabilitation project where the government was providing land and allocating the resources, lacked proper monitoring. There should be independent monitoring and evaluation of the projects.
III. Demand Side Issues
Demand depends on affordability for middle and low-middle income households. Developers are not interested in making small-sized flats with small margins at affordable prices in the absence of incentives or policy support. Incentivizing the different players such as builders and banks through various incentives will be important for sustained growth in housing demand and supplies. A number of factors restrain demand, which are noted below.
1. High registration cost
The cost of registration is very high, which disincentivizes those who are yet to register their properties and restricts development of the secondary market and essentially, liquidity in the sector. Moving from small to medium sized houses with change in affordability is quite costly in Bangladesh due to high ownership transfer and registration costs. Registration cost is currently 15% of overall cost. It generally ranges between 4%-6% in most emerging and developed economies (5% percent in Malaysia), in comparison to 15% in Bangladesh. A 10-percentage point reduction in registration cost would have a huge impact on the end- consumers’ affordability and demand.
2. Supporting connectivity and infrastructure
Affordable housing is more feasible to be built outside large metropolitan cities like Dhaka and Chattogram as land prices are cheaper there. However, lack of infrastructure restricts the demand and prohibits such developments. The ownership structure/ratio model is more attractive for developers in peripheries– the ownership structure may entail 35:65 to 40:60 percent distribution between the land-owners and the builders in areas outside big cities, while the corresponding ratio is 50:50 or even 60:40 in the heart of major cities. However, making the outskirts of Dhaka or other satellite cities viable for the working families, multi-modal connectivity from the peripheries or satellites to the city centers will be important so that the commuters can commute within one or one and half hours commuting time each way. Other factors like schools for children, healthcare facilities, and shopping centers/markets will also be important parts of the ecosystem for making peripheral satellite cities attractive for families willing to move/relocate. Affordable housing and attractive financing are necessary conditions, but not sufficient without the full ecosystem.
3. Lack of supporting documents
The consumer finance guidelines require applicants to submit scores of documents to support their application and gauge their income/feasibility. In many cases, the income supporting documents will be lacking. Many applicants are not able to comply with the jurisdictions provided in the Consumer Finance Guidelines.
4. Simultaneous monthly mortgage and current rent payments when the house is under construction
Servicing the housing loans and current house rents simultaneously gets very costly for middle income salaried employees or self-employed persons. Nowadays the mortgage interest rates vary between 8%-9%, after the ceiling put on the maximum interest rate by Bangladesh Bank. This puts additional pressure on the lower-middle income group, reducing the effective demand. Developers thus focus on high-end homes instead where the buyers do not face such constraints and even if the market is small, there is greater margin and flexibility. For affordable housing, a rent to ownership model should be considered.
5. Income security
Despite the high demand for available financing mechanisms, there is an issue of practicality in availing them. Steady income flow, job guarantee, etc. are some aspects which are uncertain in the case of such products and are heavily screened for when selecting clients. The borrowers also are not sure at times if they will be able retain income for a long-term loan. Thus, there is risk of defaults.
6. Need for insurances
In cases of income uncertainty and death, there is need for insurance companies to step in, since reselling the flat/house is also an issue as the second-hand market is not efficient. Insurance companies can come in and develop appropriate insurance products. As per the central bank regulation, there is a requirement that for any mortgage loan there has to be insurance of the property up to the tune of 110% of the loan value. Real estate companies can also partner with insurance companies to design the right package. However, they may need help from the government and development partners to keep the premiums affordable as the insurance companies are not too developed and not eager to go outside Dhaka.
7. To bring targeted people into banking facilities for affordable housing is another issue
Most of the target population may not have bank accounts. The commercial banks look for credit worthiness. If a 30% down payment is asked to a garment worker, it will not be affordable for him/her. It has to be seen from the customer’s point of view. All around Dhaka and Chattogram, people struggle to finish their housing constructions due to shortage of funds, as evident by the number of unfinished houses that are noticeable. This ‘perpetual housing’ can also be seen in other developing countries such as India, although in lower proportions as they are far ahead in promoting the Affordable Housing sector.
8. Increasing the debt-to-equity ratio to 80:20 and making the valuations accurate will help create demand
Currently the officially required debt to equity ratio is 70:30, which is high by international standards. Financial institutions should also refrain from using over-conservative valuation by appraisers which increases the effective debt-to-equity ratio to even lower level, and thereby increase the required equity contribution to significantly above the stipulated 30% of the property value. This kind of very low debt- to-equity ratio puts excessive financial pressures on the middle-income households and makes houses beyond their reach in financial terms. For this, certain regulations and practices need to be changed.
9. The interest paid on home mortgages can be made tax deductible
In most developed nations, home mortgage payments are tax deductible to support and incentivize the households to own homes. In most developed countries, the very high home-ownership and the economic significance of the real estate sector is primarily driven by this tax deduction offered to households for homes used as primary residence. Countries like Bangladesh may also follow similar approach to promote home ownership and housing sector development.
10. Mortgage cost
The cost of registering mortgages comes in different slabs depending on loan size and is considered to be expensive and unaffordable for many people. There are many reasons for this, including informality of income, cumbersome property titling regimes, lengthy foreclosure process, low capacity of financial institutions to expand in the housing finance area, regulatory regime with caps and lack of long-term finance for mortgage lenders. Issuing collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) to unlock liquidity and reinvest for additional mortgage loans can be a possible pathway.
11. Green housing finance
Bangladesh Bank has a green financing facility which offers banks refinancing for green housing with a 4%-5% interest. If developers build houses in a green manner, after getting certified, low-cost financing should be available and help bring down the end prices for the consumers. Such support will be helpful for the sector to get necessary traction and helpful to build interest.
IV. Way Forward
The demand for affordable housing in urban areas is very high and is expected to grow to 10 million units by 2030. Bangladesh must tackle this affordable housing problem since it cannot leave tens of millions of households out of the home ownership process forever. The emerging middle class in Bangladesh is going to be huge and this segment will demand housing which needs to be affordable at the middle-income level. The housing construction and units will also need to be green at the same time, as residential buildings globally represent 18% of total global energy-related CO2 emissions, with an additional 10% of emissions coming from building construction. The whole process has a long chain, starting with access to land, city planning, infrastructure development, building materials, smart cities etc., all of which will require developing the related ecosystem and government policy support. Without both these elements combined, housing sector development, particularly for the affordable and green segments, will not materialize.
Some of the important issues identified—reducing land registration cost, diverting resources from the savings of the insurance and pension funds into the bond market and developing the community and housing quarters surrounding the Economy Zones—provide easy and attainable entry points, which can result in significant gains in the short term. The government ministries and agencies should provide the accompanying regulatory environment to foster development of affordable housing sector. There are constraints and challenges however, which can be mitigated through consultations and lasting engagement on the part of the government and other stakeholders. There is a need to engage with relevant ministries and agencies like Bangladesh Bank (BB), National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Security Exchange Commission (BSEC), Ministry of Finance (Finance Division & Financial Institutions Division), MOEFCC, Ministry of Housing and Public Works, RAJUK and similar bodies in other major cities, and other agencies as appropriate, to try and develop the overall National Strategy for Affordable Housing in Bangladesh. The strategy should set specific objectives to alleviate the accentuating shortage of housing for the middle and low-middle income households in Bangladesh. The strategy should also incentivize both the demand and supply side of the housing market to realize the objective.
Some of the important issues identified—reducing land registration cost, diverting resources from the savings of the insurance and pension funds into the bond market and developing the community and housing quarters surrounding the Economy Zones—provide easy and attainable entry points, which can result in significant gains in the short term.
The road to affordable housing sector development, with coordinated interventions from all relevant stakeholders and international partners can really bring a marked shift in the socio-economic condition of Bangladesh. Although it cannot happen overnight, the process should commence, with active coordination among the relevant parties. Other countries’ experience has shown that once this collaborative engagement starts, there is a snowball effect which can be carried forward sustainably by the private sector with support from regulators and without further international support. The government should thus push this agenda for greater public interest and the relevant government institutions and regulators should come forward to make this effort a success and beneficial to the ultimate end-users who deserve to own their dream homes at affordable prices.