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Despite the onslaught of the global pandemic on many industries, investments in the housing sector in Jamaica have remained buoyant and resilient an executive at the country’s largest private mortgage provider says.

Petal James, Chief of Branches at JN Bank, made the pronouncement recently as she addressed the annual general meeting of the Realtors Association of Jamaica (RAJ) recently at the Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Jamaica College in St Andrew.

Ms James noted that 2020 has been advantageous for property owners and stakeholders in the housing industry, because it has emphasised the power of real estate investment.

“Investments in the sector have been resilient and reliable for many owners, as properties continue to hold their value and have even increased in worth, despite the climate. And, while some levelling off has been predicted, prices are not expected to decline,” she said.

Ms James further pointed out that the market is pregnant with several opportunities that should begin to emerge in mid to late 2021, as new developments get underway and as the travel industry picks up steam.

“This, twinned with Airbnb’s IPO-listing, the share economy is set to rise again, and Jamaicans could see a re-emergence of short-term rentals soon,” she noted.

The JN Bank executive further encouraged stakeholders in the industry to use the downtime provided by the global pandemic to strengthen and reposition their organisations.

“Use this period as one for strengthening your organisations, by focusing on the other critical aspects of your business to ensure its buoyancy and growth, so that you’ll be in an even better position post-COVID,” she said.

“Similar to many other industries and sectors, it’s timely for you to look at how you can further digitalise your operations to improve efficiency and convenience to your clients.”

Ms James further noted that it’s also a good time for realtors and business owners to explore ways of sustainably financing the growth of their operations.

Meanwhile, Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Pearnel Charles Jr, said the government continues to work to reshape and improve efficiencies in the housing sector in Jamaica.

“The government is focused on advancing a housing policy that should ensure that every Jamaican has access to safe, legal and affordable housing solutions. And that means developing housing that will be sustainable. It also means that we want persons to have the opportunity, access and support to buy homes and to afford their homes,” he said.

Mr Charles Jr said this means the government will need to fast track proposed changes to the Rent Restriction Act.

He informed that since September 3, relevant stakeholders in the industry have been meeting to refine and fine-tune the amendments, and a draft should be before Cabinet within the next two to three months.

The Minister said the amended Act will address issues including security deposit, recovery of possession and notice to quit.

He added that the goal is to also create a better and a more judicious balance between the landlord and the tenant.

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