Lahore: The Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Lahore has remained the all-time most popular locality in Lahore among Zameen.com users interested in purchasing houses, apartments and residential and commercial plots in the city. The society has long been known to witness sharp rises in demand and transaction volumes as soon as there’s any activity in the property market. Interestingly, this investment activity can sometimes limit itself to DHA Lahore alone — a testament to the high level of trust the housing scheme enjoys in terms of transparency and scam-free transactions.
A slow start
The year 2020 started off with a low transaction volume, which was the continuation of the low-investment activity seen after the introduction of the tax regime announced in July 2016. This was followed by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a shutdown of DHA’s main office in March. Prior to this, the authority had decided to introduce alternate payment methods in order to avoid human interactions during all subsequent DHA related transactions.
Transaction process on a complete Halt
The shutting down of the DHA Main Office on March 26 essentially meant that no transactions could be made for as long as the premises remained closed. In the meanwhile, the authority took the opportunity to initiate a disinfection drive in the various phases of DHA Lahore. However, much to everybody’s surprise, during all of these disruptions, property rates in the society did not experience any significant drops. The consistent yet marginal drop in the property rates really didn’t mean much considering that the real estate industry had come to a complete standstill.
Zameen Trends accurately predicted future buying trends
Soon after the DHA Main Office shutdown, Zameen.com noticed a sudden surge in searches made for property units in DHA Phase 7, making it the most popular phase in the housing society among people using the website in April 2020. Today, after a lapse of almost 8 months, the phase has firmly held on to the top slot on Zameen Trends recorded for DHA Lahore.
The Main Office resumes operations
The authority partially resumed its office operations on July 3, instructing the public to book their appointments one day in advance. The office was officially reopened on July 22. During this 20-day period between the partial and full resumption of office operations, the DHA office staff faced a significant work load due to a rush among investors keen on purchasing properties in DHA as soon as possible.
The rise in search volume recorded in April 2020 (and during the following months) on Zameen Trends led to a high trade volume for residential and commercial plots in Phase 7. On-ground sources revealed that while the existing backlog had contributed to the spike in the transaction volume, the buyers also included a huge number of investors looking to avail the construction industry relief package that gave them the opportunity to purchase properties without first fulfilling the requirement of declaring their source(s) of income before December 31.
This investment activity lasted for about a month, and led to an overall 40% rise in the prices of properties located in DHA Lahore. In the case of prime properties in Phase 6 ,7, and 8, the surge in rates was as high as 60%.
Capitalizing on the existing demand
The housing authority had already sensed that the construction relief package would attract more buyers and investors, especially those looking to legitimize their money via the amnesty scheme on offer. As a result, the authority meticulously planned the schedule for the launch of new products. Further, it initiated development work in Phase XI (Rahbar) Sector IV (in August) in order to benefit from the relief package and at the same time provide employment opportunities for the labour class.
In September, the authority started sharing teasers on its official Facebook page that something big was coming up soon in DHA Lahore, for which the ‘wait was about to be over’. On September 7, it announced its decision to offer developed commercial and residential plots in all DHA phases on a 3-year payment plan. Seven days later, the authority announced the launch of Overseas Enclave for expatriates. Later in the same month, the authority shared the details regarding the developed (commercial and residential) plots available on instalments.
On October 12, the authority revealed the location of the Overseas Enclave (Phase VII), as well as the details on the high-end Penta Square apartments being developed for expatriates. In November, development work was initiated in the Overseas Enclave.
The efforts to boost activity in the construction industry, promote vertical developments
The DHA introduced changes in its bylaws for commercial plots in order to make efficient use of vertical spaces, in accordance with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of shifting to vertical developments. The notice in this regard was issued in September. The authority increased the height limit for plazas and buildings being developed on commercial plots, offered additional parking space to the developers, and improved the floor-area ratio.
At the same time, the authority is keen on making its Phase 11 and Phase 12 more attractive for potential residents in the hopes that it increases the demand for these phases, and eventually results in an increased occupancy rate. Be it the launch of a deal, the increasing pace of development work, or introducing commercial attractions and facilities — 2020 has been quite an eventful year for DHA Lahore.