From a basic perspective of supply and user demand, the real estate and construction industry’s performance was fair. Propelled by affordable interest rates, expanding market and new technology, the industry is expected to continue performing above average for the next 12 months barring major disruptive economic changes.

Big bank funding
Banks and other financial institutions are expected to slash their rates and offer more helpful packages for people looking to purchase property. Micheal Mwesigwa, the head of sales at dfcu bank, observes that if someone has an attractive property development project and they have proper documentation, the banks will remain receptive. He reveals that dfcu has lowered their interest rates from 20 to 17 per cent per annum.
“We have also quickened the process so that clients can gain access to adequate funding needed to acquire property in 24 hours,” says Mwesigwa .

Stiff standards
Bob Bwayo, a real estate broker, cites a change in expectations and demands from current tenants and homeowners. He advises players in the industry to view this challenge as an opportunity that will inspire them to raise their standards and thus benefit from the possible market.
“The biggest trend will be connectivity, aesthetics and toward flexibility. More and more people are attracted to buildings that have access to technology and are functional whereas one can use it for work and live in it,” Bwayo explains.

A new market wave
Move over millennials, generation Z is here and is rearing to make their impact felt. Generation Z, (anyone born between 1995 to 2001) are now the newest labour force entrants, and are changing ownership patterns, construction, and renting experiences. Their beliefs and biases are influenced by what they see on social media and are likely to show preferences for urban living.

Technology
Technology is becoming more prolific in every stage of property development, from easy-to-use feasibility study apps to aiding communication between developers and investors, planning report information or general project management. Previously focused to mostly residential real estate services, technology is now changing the commercial property industry as well, which, like any advancement, has its strengths and weaknesses. More builders and property developers we talked to reveal that we will see the use of more technology on sites in the not-too distant future.
“While we have not yet reached the level of 3-D printing now available in some Asian countries, we are already seeing the infiltration of a growing number of hybrid construction workflow systems and models blending that have transformed the way we build homes,” Simon Peter Kazibwe, an architect, says.
General contractors and construction managers now no longer need to meet physically as they are able to communicate and share images promptly through WhatsApp.

Look beyond the city
It is no secret that our city suburbs are too congested and should no longer accommodate more housing. More property developers are striking out in new areas outside the city where land is still cheaply available. Brian Mwesigwa, a land broker, says this year, prospective land owners must look at land outside the city because it is still cheap but can appreciate within a shortest period of time.
He recommends areas such as Buloba and Bujjuko on Mityana Road, Maya on Masaka Road, Busunju, Kakiri, Namuseera and Wamala in Wakiso District and Kyebando, Ganda. “For instance, a 40X70 plot in Bujjuko now costs about Shs12 but after six months or a year; you could sell it at Shs20m. In Wamala, a 50X100 plot now costs Shs25m but after five months, you could sell it at Shs30m. In Kapeeka, Ssemuto, a 50X 100 plot now goes for Shs8m but after six months, you could even sell it at Shs15m,” he says.
He says people should not be hesitant to buy land outside the city because places keep on developing, giving an example of Nansana which used to be considered a far place but is now a Municipality.

Online brands will dominate
Gavin Ziraba of www.structureshub.com is of the view that 2018 is finally the year where real estate agents will not only be encouraged, but rather expected to have built up an online brand and portfolio of their work. “Buyers and sellers are looking online first not only to find out your contact information, but also to see your credentials and digital footprint,” Ziraba explains.
Instead of going the traditional route of using local brokers to market their properties, more people are now engaging the services of online companies such as Airbnb which has proven efficient in enabling people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays or hotel rooms.
Several other digital savvy Ugandans are registered with other websites such as Just Landed and TripAdvisor that are widely used by international consumers looking for houses and apartments to rent in Uganda.

Facebook leads
Locally, there are countless websites offering real estate services online; from established companies such as Jumia, Olx, and Knight Frank to relatively new ones such as Posh Properties and Estate Online. Ziraba is however convinced that Facebook still has the leading impact.
“Due to the massive number of people on Facebook, your content can reach such a large audience. People can learn more about home buying thru casual post online, whether it’s information about the home, a video tour, photos, or information on how to reach you. It is one of the best ways to market a home,” Ziraba adds.

Additional reporting by
Amos Ngwomoya