Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation helping to fuel housing market growth

Home ownership among Saudi citizens has reached 62%, while the number of families who rent has dropped to 35%

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. General view of Dar Al-Arkan's Al Qasr project in Riyadh October 25, 2009.

Image used for illustrative purpose. General view of Dar Al-Arkan's Al Qasr project in Riyadh October 25, 2009.

REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

JEDDAH: Housing initiatives that form part of Saudi Vision 2030 have contributed greatly to the development of the Kingdom’s property market, but that is not the only factor that has helped to drive the growth, according to officials.

Majed Al-Hogail, the minister of housing and acting minister of municipal and rural affairs, said that the country’s digital transformation has had a remarkable effect on the lives of Saudi citizens, allowing them to perform tasks and transactions online that previously required visits to ministries and government offices. In terms of housing, electronic platforms have greatly simplified the house-buying process, he said.

The transformation of the housing sector has boosted the gross domestic product and strengthened the national economy by raising the level of local participation in the real estate sector, the minister said. According to ministry figures, home ownership among Saudi citizens has reached 62 percent, while the number of families who rent has fallen to 35 percent.

“The housing program — one of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 programs — has contributed to the stability and happiness of the family through financing and housing solutions and options to enable them to own their first home,” he said. “In addition, the use of electronic platforms and applications has facilitated the family ownership journey through simple steps.”

Al-Hogail said that where the ministry used to lend to 20,000 home buyers each year, it now lends to 20,000 each month. He said the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority had played a major role in the growth of home ownership by reducing the minimum down payment required for property purchases from 30 percent of the purchase price to just 10 percent.

Nearly half-a-million Saudis have benefited from initiatives introduced by the Housing Ministry, he said. More than 250,000 citizens now own their own homes, he added, and 42,000 people a month use Sakani, an online service provided by the Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund that helps people across Saudi Arabia find housing options and financing solutions. In addition, SR1.4 billion ($373 million) has been allocated to develop infrastructure for residential projects.

Al-Hogail also highlighted a housing program that aims to help the neediest families, and said the ministry, in partnership with NGOs, had provided 24,000 housing units through contracts worth SR11 billion.

“The neediest families have been supported with proper housing to secure a decent life,” he said. “Moreover, an integrated housing system has been built that works efficiently to serve the citizens, enhance the attractiveness of investment in the real-estate sector, and expand the scope of sustainable partnership in the private sector.”

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