RANGOON — An international property portal has found that three quarters of visitors to its website in Burma want to buy property, though real estate agents in the country’s biggest city say the desire to rent is still strong.
In a survey conducted over the past year, 75 percent of more than 100,000 visitors to House.com.mm, the local version of international property portal Lamudi, said they wanted to purchase and own property.
“As the local real estate market grows and strengthens, more and more of our customers are looking to invest in their own property. We have seen a great increase in people opting to buy rather than rent, particularly with older generations who want to purchase their first home and settle down in Myanmar [Burma],” Michael Bakker, the Burma country manager for House.com.mm, said in a statement earlier this month.
He said that as Rangoon and Naypyidaw continued to grow, with infrastructure development and the construction of new commercial and residential properties, he expected to see rising demand for real estate in both cities.
However, real estate agents in Rangoon said rental properties were still in demand.
“High-end properties are available to rent for foreigners in Rangoon—that’s why renting is more common than purchasing,” Zaw Zaw, the senior manager of Unity real estate agency, told The Irrawaddy. “I do not agree with this survey that renting is less common than purchasing. Especially in Rangoon and Mandalay, the renting rate is still 85 percent of the total real estate market.”
He said there was a growing demand among foreigners to rent in the country’s biggest city. Foreigners working for UN agencies, embassies, international NGOs and businesses prefer to rent condominiums and high-end apartments because they still cannot afford to buy, he said.
Still, renting poses its own challenges. Rental costs can be high, and it can be difficult to find high-end properties with no connection to cronies or members of the former military regime. The renting rates in Rangoon have been significantly increasing over the past three years. Fully furnished condos in Dagon Township, near the downtown area, are renting for US$3,000 per month, while the popular Shwe Hintha luxury condominium in Kamaryut Township is renting for about twice that rate.
In rural areas, properties are less expensive and more affordable for ownership, Zaw Zaw added.
“I think the survey is calculated for the whole country. If they looked at rural areas, purchasing is more common than renting,” he said.
The survey did not examine how many clients had actually purchased property, but rather how many hoped to do so.