(MENAFN - Arab News) Houses are now available for rent in various districts with vacancies of residential accommodation caused by the departure of thousands of expatriates, according to real estate experts. "Such vacant accommodations will decrease rents by 15 percent, one of them said.
The experts advised building owners to utilize the opportunity and renovate houses and apartments, especially in popular areas where they are in demand, to meet the needs of citizens.
They disclosed that a study is being conducted in a number of areas to determine the number of vacant apartments and whether or not they can meet the demand for residential units from citizens.
Fuad Boqari, a real estate dealer, said the departure of expatriates would have a positive impact on the Kingdom, especially in finishing and renovating houses and apartments in areas where they are highly in demand. This also gives building owners an opportunity to improve the quality of accommodation and make houses available for nationals, especially low income families.
He emphasized the need for improving security standards in sought-after housing areas to create a positive impact on citizens and make their security trustworthy at such locations.
The increasing number of expatriates over the past years led to increased demand for residential units in popular areas. This created a gap between supply and demand and rents increased in surrounding areas as well. Real estate owners started renovating and renewing these buildings to accommodate nationals with low income, who spend more than 50 percent of their monthly income on rent, Boqari added.
He said higher rents would not be discernible right away but could be considered in the long term. Popular areas have more than 20 percent of the total real estate projects, he said, adding that he expected the Shomoos system to work in favor of the citizens if the owners registered their buildings under the system.
Chairman of the Real Estate Evaluation Committee in the Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jamal Farghal said departing expatriates would affect stores and other commercial outlets, which used to harbor them. "This will be apparent in the income volume and might affect the budgets of affected stores. However, it will not affect commercial stores located in city centers because they belong to investors who have resorted to regular, legal employment."
Farghal said residential units that were allocated to illegal expatriates were distributed alongside two lines - popular and random areas - that have large numbers of expatriates and entered into developmental and organizational frameworks. "The departure of expatriates will not affect these areas because buildings will be removed and larger and more modern structures built in their place," Farghal added.
The other alternative is to keep these buildings out of any organizational reforms, which will affect the situation negatively, because the flow of rents will stop and owners of these houses might be forced to look for new tenants, reduce the rent, or renovate and modernize their property to attract new tenants.
Specialist in leasing affairs Samer Al-Jeilani focused on the plight of low income individuals and said those with a monthly income under SR3,000 find it difficult to pay annual rents ranging from SR10,000 to SR15,000, thus ending up paying 30 to 40 percent of their annual income in rent.
Abdullah Al-Ahmari, chairman of the real estate evaluation committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry said expatriates violating the law harm the national economy, including the real estate sector, and deporting them will result in making available more accommodation for nationals, who are the real source of wealth.
"Young people who like to seize investment opportunities should start watching market activities during the first half of the new Hijri year because expatriate deportations will close down many commercial stores," he added.
Wafaa Noah said a study was being conducted to make an inventory of popular housing locations in some parts of the Kingdom. The study started last July and would continue through the coming year.
Real estate expert and former member of Al-Madinah Province Council Majid Ghouth said rents are expected to drop because returning expatriates are vacating residential units in random and old areas.