WELL-KNOWN housing expert, Carlton Earl Samuels, says that in order to further narrow the housing gap, greater attention needs to be paid to addressing affordability, as supply is improving.
Samuels, who is chief of development financing at the Jamaica National Group, says many Jamaicans still cannot afford to finance a mortgage.
“What we fail to recognise is that, there is not much of a problem on the supply side,” he said. “There are numerous developments taking place. The challenge is affordability. I commend the National Housing Trust (NHT) for the role they are playing in bridging that gap.”
Samuels, who is a former NHT managing director, said there are several new developments on the market from both the private and the public sector, primarily through the NHT. In addition, he noted that the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) is also examining how it can formalise beneficiaries who do not have a title.
“The housing market could be classified as a seller’s market,” he said. “Prices on real estate are appreciating quickly due to high demand, and financial institutions are acting in an enlightened manner by offering opportunities to persons to access these homes and properties, and providing mortgages which are within their reach, that is, by providing lower interest rates and higher loan to value ratio.”
He also noted that the Jamaica National Group, through its commercial banking arm, JN Bank, has been contributing to the increase in supply, through the offer of development financing to position developers to bring affordable housing to the market. He stated that JN Bank is currently financing several developments across the country, including four in western Jamaica.
“Therefore, there is a growing supply of properties to meet the current demand, especially in the middle-income market,” he disclosed, pointing to the combined efforts of government and the private sector.