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Interview with Muhammad Ejaz Taj — CEO, T. I. Marketing, T. I. Properties & 9T9 Advertising (T. I. Group of Companies)
Muhammad Ejaz Taj holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Political Science and Diploma in Public Administration from Karachi University. He has also completed ISO 9001/9002 certification in Quality Management & Marketing. He has a working experience of more than 19 years in various diversified capacities including property operations. Apart from construction and property marketing, he is an ex-cricketer who has played first class level and it was his love for cricket that made him one of the sponsors of Karachi Kings. Besides, he is a well-known figure in the literary circles of Karachi. Presently, he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of T.I. Group of Companies. He is also a member of the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD).
T.I. Group is a construction and marketing company operational since 1999. It aims to provide high quality services to their valued clients, across all sectors and have set a strong benchmark for the industry. Based in Karachi, T. I. Group provides a comprehensive range of services to a wide range of clients. Some of their upcoming projects are Park Plaza, Hamna Heights, Gulshan-e-Arz, Ammar Icon, Highway Model Town, Jannat Heights.
PAGE: What are your views on the housing finance sector?
Ejaz Taj: The housing finance market is among the most important in the economy. It accounts for a sizeable portion of the production activity of a country, through its backward linkages to land markets, building materials, tools, durable goods and labor markets. During the last few years, favorable developments in the economy have facilitated the offering of housing finance by financial institutions. The increasing scope of finance for housing in Pakistan has led many local and foreign banks to be engaged in house financing activities.
PAGE: Your views on the real estate market in Pakistan:
Ejaz Taj: Real estate market is crucial for promoting commerce and industry, growth and employment, and poverty reduction. The liberalization of the Pakistani economy has increased business opportunities and migration of the labor force to urban localities has led to an increase in the demand for both commercial and housing space. However, the role of formal real estate investment markets in the process of economic development remains poorly understood. The lack of understanding is, in part, a direct result of the absence of reliable information on real estate values, yields and total returns.
The real estate market is the market that encompasses all transactions which involve dealings in rights or access to land and buildings. It forms the backbone of the urban economy being a fixed factor market; hence an efficient real estate market is most important for a well-functioning urban environment. An efficient real estate market is one that encourages quick development and transaction of land, provides reasonable access to all income groups, environmentally sound and the system governing the land markets should be integrated with other laws and regulations governing land, such as planning, taxation and provision of public infrastructure and services.
PAGE: How would you comment on the affordability level of the masses in Pakistan?
Ejaz Taj: One of the main bottlenecks is the underdeveloped mortgage sector — just 0.5 percent of GDP. With a more accessible home loan market, many more Pakistani people could find the capital for their first-time home. The main problem lies in the housing-finance to GDP ratio which in Pakistan is one of the lowest in the world at just one percent compared to the seven percent in India. Unless lower middle-class people get access to home loans, there will continue to be a problem with the construction of new properties for this lower-tier segment. It is a vicious circle; people can’t get home loans so they can’t even buy low-cost affordable houses and demand remains low for cheaper housing schemes to be built.
PAGE: Kindly tell us about the role of remittances in the construction and real estate sector in Pakistan:
Ejaz Taj: The role of migrants and their remittances could play a vital role in revival of housing sector. After achieving economic stabilization, one of the main investment goals of immigrants and their recipient families revolves around their housing situation back home. Carrying out home improvement projects, the purchase of land for construction or the building of a home are their key goals. A house becomes a symbol of the economic well-being and a representation of the financial improvement that is being achieved through the migration.
PAGE: Your views on the low-cost housing in Pakistan:
Ejaz Taj: Low cost housing for a vast majority of the people poses an enormous challenge in terms of availability of affordable land and finances. The problem is rooted in socio-economic conditions and the solutions are handicapped by obstacles in the lending environment, made worse by speculative investments in real estate and lack of an ‘integrated, broader low-income housing finance strategy.’ HBFCL is the largest player in the housing market in terms of the number of borrowers, accounting for 42 percent of new borrowers but even their loan disbursement portfolio is around merely Rs600 million.