JEDDAH — This year’s Jeddah Economic Forum is to tackle, highlight and discuss the housing issue in Saudi Arabia, while home ownership is still the ultimate goal for many young Saudis.
“We really wish to own a house but prices remain high, mortgages are hard to come by, and financial loans are difficult to find. Therefore, many of us are still renting,” said a 34-year-old Amjad Turkistani.
Speaking with his friend, as the Jeddah Economic Forum gets under way to tackle the issue of housing in the Kingdom, Turkistani noted that affordability and rising house prices continue to be a major concern for young Saudis.
“I have been married for four years with two kids and till date have not been able to afford to buy a house because of high prices and difficult demands by local banks in order to get a loan. Even getting a personal loan through friends and members of the family is also becoming hard,” he said.
He pointed out that the location and price remains the two most important factors of consideration in determining the purchase of property.
His friend 30-year-old Ayman Ba Jamal was pessimistic that Jeddah Economic Forum 2013 (JEF) would be able to come up with reasonable solutions to the issue.
“Housing is becoming a major issue locally, regionally and internationally and that is probably the main reason to be discussed here in Jeddah at JEF 2013. We hope that they would be able to provide a solution but we doubt that,” Ba Jamal said.
Purchasing a home or an apartment of more than SR500,000-1 million based on bank conditions, in matured areas may not be a viable option for these young employees with an annual household income of less than SR60,000.
“With my salary which comes as SR8,000 including housing, I do not think I can afford buying a house or even an apartment at this stage of my life. We hope things will be much easier for us to achieve our goal by owning a small house in my country,” said Mohammed Zaki, who works for a private company and just got married a year ago.
He continued: “This could be because of the budget we have and in addition to the current cost of living such as car ownership as well as rising prices of food, products and services.” According to Zaki, high property prices translate into higher rentals, which mean that those young people cannot afford to buy houses but have to spend their money on rent. This is in addition to the current cost of living such as car ownership as well as rising prices of food, products and services.
While the Saudi budget of 2013 promised affordable housing units, Turkistani, Ba Jamal and Zaki do not think the move would be effective in meeting the rising housing demand for low-to middle-income earners.
They said, “We can’t accomplish something in life until we own a house and we hope that JEF 2013 could bring this issue to the highest level of the government in order to accomplish our dream.”