Kiyapili Sibanda, Business Reporter
THE Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (REIZ) says more businesses are deserting expensive offices in central business districts (CBD) of towns and cities across the country in favour of cheaper converted residential units.
REIZ president, Mr Siza Masuku said a number of companies have closed CBD offices citing high operating costs and prohibitive rentals.
“We have noted especially here in Harare that between 40 to 50 percent of the buildings are being vacated. Most occupants have closed down while some have relocated to cheaper places.
“This is because of high rates and rentals being charged in the CBD. Some occupants are being affected by the tough economic conditions and that is why they now favour cheaper rates,” he said.
A similar situation is being experienced in Bulawayo where there are many empty buildings and office space in the CBD. Shopping malls like Nkulumane and Entumbane, have also been deserted and now few businesses operate there because of rentals.
Mr Masuku said his organisation was trying to bridge the gap between property investors and tenants through analysing the market to come up with measures to help reduce high operating costs, which frustrate businesses.
He told Business Chronicle that the other challenge they face as REIZ was that landlords and tenants were not willing to give them information that can help the property sector in the country.
“Property owners are not willing to give us information, which we then put together and help analyse the sector.
“We want to see how the sector is performing overall and this would help to compete for attention for foreign investment. We also want the foreign investors to see us as important in the property sector,” said Mr Masuku.
He added that if information was made available the association would help advise landlords and tenants on fair rentals and the value of buildings.
According to REIZ, Zimbabwe’s real estate sector experienced a slowdown in the uptake of commercial property developments in the first quarter of this year due to high cost of capital.