Pm: Housing Initiative Not ‘One-Off’ Exercise
By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The prime minister yesterday pledged that the government’s efforts to make home ownership more affordable for Bahamians will not be a “one-off endeavour” that lacks a coherent strategy.
Dr Hubert Minnis, leading-off House of Assembly debate on a resolution over the much-trumpeted 83-acre housing development on Prospect Ridge that is targeted at “young professionals”, asserted that this is not an isolated effort to make land and real estate ownership more accessible.
Disclosing that the government’s goal is to build wealth and grow the middle class, he said: “My government has a policy of empowerment through affordable land ownership. The announcement of the community for young professionals is not the first land development of my government.
“For example, we are in the process of another type of development in Carmichael, where the lot prices started at $15,000 for lots valued at over $70,000. There will be further offerings at various different price levels. All will be in well-designed subdivisions with world-class infrastructure and suitable amenities.
“Our land empowerment initiatives are not one-off endeavours. We have already identified a number of tracts of crown land in New Providence and the Family Islands where we will provide affordable land to Bahamians at various levels. Our intention is for thousands of Bahamian first-time homeowners to benefit from our vision for wealth-creation, ownership and empowerment. This is how we expand the middle class.”
Dr Minnis provided no further details on this strategy, and it is unclear whether future developments will benefit from the same tax breaks and other incentives being offered to first-time home buyers who will purchase the “approximately 250 lots” for single family, town homes and duplexes that will be created in the 83-acres Prospect Ridge development.
“Those selected will be able to purchase lots of around the size of 95 feet times 100 feet for the maximum sum of approximately $50,000,” he added of potential purchasers. This, the Prime Minister said, represents a two-thirds discount to the $150,000 cost that the government will assume in putting in the $150,000 utilities infrastructure for each lot.
He added: “In addition to this massive saving there will be at least ten architectural designs where individuals can collect one of ten for their home. Thus they would not be subjected to the traditional architectural fees that they see.
“The average home in such areas would be about $250,000 to $300,000. Which means an architecture fee for such facility, to that individual, will be about $30,000, but under this programme they would only have to purchase a plan for $1,000.”
Dr Minnis said buyers will be exempt from having to pay VAT on the purchase price: “In order to ensure the development is completed in a timely manner, home construction will need to be completed within two years of purchase,” he added.
“There will be no stamp tax, there will be no real property tax for a minimum of two years, and as the committee continues and completes their job, there will be more concessions that will be offered.”