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Housing developers to protest against Amman municipality’s ‘investment-unfriendly’ practices

By Dana Al Emam - May 13,2015 - Last updated at May 13,2015

AMMAN — The Jordan Housing Developers Association (JHDA) on Wednesday demanded “fair and equal” enforcement of the Greater Amman Municipality’s (GAM) housing regulations to allow further growth of the sector.

The association plans to hold a sit-in next Saturday to express its disagreement with GAM’s “investment-discouraging” practices, JHDA President Kamal Awamleh told The Jordan Times.

Awamleh claimed that GAM “refuses to issue permits for small apartments”, although around 80 per cent of flats sold in 2014 were less than 150 square metres (sq.m.) each.

“Big apartments are less preferable to buyers, as 200-240 sq.m flats cost around JD300,000 — a high price for most Jordanians,” he said, adding that wealthy Iraqis and Syrians are usually the ones who buy big flats.

Another issue Awamleh claims is affecting the sector’s progress is the “unsystematic” division of housing complexes into apartments, a matter that makes it difficult for investors to predict the feasibility of their projects before construction.

The A, B and C classifications of buildings only decide the allowed ratio of the building to the land area, but do not specify the number of apartments, he said.

Awamleh charged that “lengthy administrative procedures” in issuing construction licences take up to five months, while occupancy permits take around four months, and these delays cause losses for the real estate sector.

Imad Hiyari, deputy city director for planning affairs at GAM, was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, but he told The Jordan Times in March that procedures for issuing licences do not take more than 12 days, including project assessment and referral to local or district committees to ensure the transaction’s conformity with the Cities and Villages Law and the building codes by-law.

Any delays, he added, are due to disputes or failure to meet standards.

Hiyari stressed that a building licence transaction that meets terms and conditions receives the approval of local committees within 12 days, noting that 80 to 85 per cent of transactions are approved.

Real estate trading last year registered a record JD7.76 billion, 22 per cent higher than in 2013 when it stood at JD6.34 billion, according to the Department of Lands and Survey.

The housing sector contributes over 35 per cent of the gross domestic product, according to Awamleh, with annual revenues standing at JD8 billion, while construction revenues are JD2.5 billion and engineering revenues are JD1 billion.

He noted that the sector employs over 150,000 Jordanians, with the number of indirect beneficiaries amounting to 150,000 individuals.  

The JHDA has over 3,000 members that represent up to 85 per cent of housing developers in the market.

According to Awamleh, real estate trading dropped by 26 per cent in the first quarter of this year. 

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