Rise of the Pakistani middle class: Affluent buyers demand ‘lifestyle real estate’

Published: April 22, 2012

A view of Bahria Orchard Lahore. Improving lifestyle trends dictate that multiple facilities be available within one housing enclave. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: 

Middle class homebuyers in urban Pakistan are increasingly demanding better facilities and real estate developers are increasingly competing not just on price but also on the quality of communities they can build.

“The living standards of people are changing in cities like Lahore,” said Mian Ayaz Anwar, president of the Zaitoon Group, a real estate development company. “That is forcing us to bring what is called ‘lifestyle real estate’ to the market, and add value to the communities, including improving the architecture.”

Anwar is referring to the increasing trend in Pakistani cities of suburban developments where entire neighbourhoods are built by a single real estate company, similar to the Levittown developments that were built in the United States after the Second World War. People are increasingly demanding that these neighbourhoods have amenities that were once considered luxuries.

“Homebuyers want security, community centres, hospitals, cinemas, parks, and even golf clubs all within their own neighbourhood so that they do not have to commute long distances,” said Anwar. “Real estate companies that offer these facilities – like Bahria Town – see their developments get sold out in no time. Bahria Town offers virtually a mini-city inside its developments.”

It was not always so. There was a time when the real estate developments in Lahore were based purely on providing housing units, with little regard for any other facilities. The military-owned Defence Housing Authority began offering a few improvements in infrastructure but the trend did not catch on until the late 1990s, when Bahria Town began offering ‘lifestyle real estate’. From then on, a trend started that has continued since.

The intense competition by real estate developers to offer such services seems counter-intuitive in a country that has a severe housing shortage. Experts in the real estate sector say the country is currently short by about 8 million units, a requirement that goes up by about 7.5% a year.

Cities like Lahore are seeing population increases upwards of 6%. Lahore’s population is expected to double from the current 11 million by 2025. But that is not the only driver of demand. Many of the residents within the city who used to live in joint family dwellings are moving into their own housing as the youth bulge increasingly comes of age and starts earning.

“Around 80% of the growth in Lahore has been along the Canal Bank, with the rest largely in DHA,” said Anwar.

That trend, however, is likely to change once the Lahore Ring Road is completed, which will provide much faster access to the heart of the city from its outer suburbs. “Many people are booking plots in projects [in these outer suburbs], in anticipation of the completion of the ring road, which is causing prices in these areas to rise,” said Anwar.

Real estate is becoming an increasingly important sector for the Pakistani economy, employing well over 5% of the country’s labour force directly in construction and much more in related industries. Yet a key hindrance to the development of the sector is the availability of housing finance. According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s latest available figures, the total value of home loans in Pakistan’s banking sector was Rs50 billion in December 2010, or about 1.5% of all loans outstanding.

To overcome the lack of housing finance, most real estate developers offer financing to their buyers themselves, offering instalment plans for the housing units they sell.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012. 

Reader Comments (15)

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Apr 22, 2012 - 4:32AM

    I have serious concern about fertile land being consumed into housing schemes. Most of the Punjab cities were sorrounded by vegetable fields and dairy farms. Now all these lands are turned in concrete houses. A beautiful banglow to live in but no electricity, no milk, no fresh vegetables and meat. Would that be a good life?

    Recommend

  • hasan
    Apr 22, 2012 - 7:55AM

    And because we are all so lazy we demand to have servants that cook, clean and generally wait on us for all needs. This demand for menial (under-paid) workers then brings into question how safe these states will actually be.

    Recommend

  • Syed
    Apr 22, 2012 - 8:49AM

    Why do we always mix up middle class with ‘affluent’ people?

    Recommend

  • antanu g
    Apr 22, 2012 - 2:12PM

    its same every where in indian subcontinent….we have to live with it.

    Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 22, 2012 - 3:55PM

    Why are their no housing schemes for the middle-class and also the poor?

    Recommend

  • Surya
    Apr 22, 2012 - 5:44PM

    @antanu g:
    As usual, your comment don’t make anysense with respect to the article..Lol..

    Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 22, 2012 - 7:17PM

    Why dont they offer some kind of housing schems for poor or lower middle clases i dont understand that.

    Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 22, 2012 - 7:19PM

    Price of this villa they showing above will be i guess over three to four crors and this is for middle class hahahahahahahah

    Recommend

  • Knotty
    Apr 22, 2012 - 10:23PM

    @ Meekal Ahmed

    When the poor have bread, then they will ask for house! First step is bread.
    .
    @ Ali Tanoli

    What have YOU done for the poor? Why don’t you give your broadband internet connection money to the poor?
    .
    If I (as a builder) build house for the poor, who will pay?
    .
    I don’t understand why ALMOST all pakistanis show pain for the poor while they do nothing. They discourage others from doing ANYTHING (e.g. if a road is built, they ask ‘why they didn’t give this to the poor). But if nothing is done, then they seem satisfied!

    Recommend

  • Ali Kazmi
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:30AM

    Well-said, Knotty. Every comment so far has been nothing but whiny and negative. Can’t people read something without wanting to sound all sanctimonious.

    As this article points out, real estate developers provide a lot of employment to poor people. Being a guilt-ridden sanctimonious schmuck never helped the poor. The poor need enterprising businesspersons to help them out of poverty by providing them employment.

    I would really appreciate it if ET investigated whether or not poor people lived where these housing enclaves are being built. A lot of poor people were evicted from what is now DHA. I hope that’s not what’s happening in Bahria and other up and coming enclaves.

    Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 23, 2012 - 12:43AM

    @Knotty,
    Sir if our Army and Navy can build towns to make money on these names why dont they do
    something for lower midle class we not asking free but atleast houing schems based on nice
    towns they build for rich bast why they cant do ????

    Recommend

  • True Muslim Paki
    Apr 23, 2012 - 2:00AM

    The builder got free advertisement in the form of news report.

    Recommend

  • PakShock
    Apr 23, 2012 - 8:55AM

    Army, Navy can get land anywhere they wish....they're "custodian of the land". The land is for their men from the army who can sell for profit to anyone they wish. The Defense Institution is not in the business of providing housing for the poor and needy, that job is strictly for your political leader(CM) and the Government(his team).

    To start; he has to get out of “Easy” Developed Cities to help the poor and needy in the Under-Developed areas, that’s where the “Real” people-lovers have jobs waiting for them. Oh yes! I will add to the title “Rise of the Lower Middle Class… to Affluent One”.

    Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 23, 2012 - 4:49PM

    @Ali Kazmi
    So kazmi sahab we are not even allowed to say any thing my friend this is not 1947 this 2012 and peoples can say what ever they want the thing why army navy is even allows to
    build these housing schems why they should stay on the border not in the cities the way should be this was the earlly islamic history armies were not allowed to mix in public and what they doing.
    @pak shock
    if this is not army navy job then why they building these houses for making money from ric and for them self too.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Apr 23, 2012 - 7:12PM

    We are not asking make the town like this one for poors but at least make a colonies according to map before they build the towns them self they will build what ever they want
    but make roads, parks, mosques, and electricity before the plats alloted to them this is not
    too much to asked.

    Recommend

More in Business