The real estate business in Chattogram is now going through a purple patch, riding on the rising demand for housing.
Industry insiders say investment in the sector will reach Tk20,000 crore with a four-time rise over the next 10 years.
In 2013, the housing business in the port city started thriving on a number of city-based development projects, overcoming lean times.
Now, Mirsarai has created enormous opportunities for real estate entrepreneurs to further boost their business. The Bangabandhu Industrial City is being developed on 30,000 acres of land in the region, which will create jobs for 30 lakh people. Many housing projects have started to spring up in the vicinity of the industrial city.
On the other hand, Anwara upazila, an industrial area, is going to be connected with Chattogram through the Karnaphuli tunnel, giving rise to new businesses. Housing projects are being developed around this under-construction tunnel.
In 1985, the real estate business began its journey in Chattogram city with a housing project named "Apan Nibash" in the East Nasirabad area. Three decades later, the business is now spreading to upazila levels, cashing on the scopes created by the Mirsarai economic zone, Karnaphuli tunnel, bay terminal, ring road and other infrastructure projects.
Some 83 real estate companies are currently implementing 250 housing projects in the port city with an investment of Tk5,000 crore. Around 5,000 residential and commercial flats will be constructed under these projects and will be handed over to their owners this year or the next, according to the Chattogram regional office of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB).
Abdul Qayyum Chowdhury, president of the REHAB, Chattogram region, told The Business Standard, "The way different megaprojects, including Bangabandhu industrial city, are being implemented in Chattogram, the real estate business is now expanding to the upazila level. We are considering Mirsarai, Sitakunda, Hathazari, Karnaphuli, Anwara and Patiya upazila as suitable places for housing."
Many foreigners will come to Bangladesh for jobs in these, creating enormous opportunities for the real estate business in these areas, he added.
In March-July 2020, the housing sector's business dropped to 40% reeling from the pandemic. The sector has now almost climbed back to pre-pandemic level with a 90% recovery, Abdul Qayyum said.
Abdul Gaffar Miazi, a member of the REHAB Chattogram regional committee, said growing employment opportunities – thanks to the ongoing development projects in Chattogram – are creating demand for flats. At the same time, people's purchasing power is also increasing.
"We see a bright future for the real estate sector on the back of the development projects," he added.
He further said there comes a need for further expanding the Chattogram city territory. If that is done, other infrastructural developments will be accelerated too. Investment in the real estate sector will also go up.
Tanvir Shahriar Rimon, chief executive officer of Ranks FC Properties, said Chattogram has become an investment hub because of industrialisation and better communication network. Economic activities are expanding beyond the city to the upazila level owing to improved road connectivity.
"We expect the real estate sector to get an investment amounting to around Tk20,000 crore in Chattogram in the next 10 to 12 years, in keeping with the infrastructural development," he added.
Shahinul Islam Khan, the chief town planner of the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA), said, "We are chalking up a new master plan to determine where housing projects can be expanded to. Housing projects can be expanded to upazila areas if we can ensure civic amenities."
Meanwhile, developer companies have started constructing residential buildings in the city and upazila areas. At the same time, some local real estate companies have come forward for the purpose.
Shamsul Alam Didar, an entrepreneur in the Mirsarai housing sector, said, "We have constructed a six-storey residential building called Western Tower in the Mirsarai municipality area. Demand for housing projects is now growing with local and foreign officials working in the economic zone."
"That is why I have taken up another housing project near the Mirsarai stadium. The investment opportunities in the housing sector are increasing day by day here," he added.
According to several real estate companies, earlier, they would take on housing projects in certain city areas such as Khulshi, Nasirabad Housing Society, Nasirabad Properties, MM Ali Road, Katalganj, and Panchlaish.
Over the last five years, the housing companies have started projects in other parts of the city, targeting the middle-class, who can now afford to buy a flat in the Tk50-80 lakh range, they added.
Mahfuzul Bari, general manager of Sanmar Properties Limited, a leading developer company in the country, said, "We have taken initiative to expand the project to the upazila level outside the city. Work on a housing project is underway at Bhatiari in Sitakunda. When the project is ready, clients will be able to buy the lowest cost flat for Tk21.5 lakh."
Sanmar Properties has started work on taking housing projects to the upazila and municipality level within the next five to eight years. Sanmar is looking for land in Mirsarai, Sitakunda, Anwara and other areas where industries are being set up, he informed.
They will hand over flats in these areas starting at Tk30-Tk70 lakh, Mahfuzul said adding that Sanmar Properties is planning to hand over 2,000 flats within the next 10 years and they will invest Tk1,200 crore for this purpose.
Sanmar has sold 1,800 apartments – of them, 1,700 in Chattogram alone – in the last 20 years. It is currently working on 30 other projects.