Sunday, April 14, 2024

Mortgage rates ‘kiling people’

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Home mortgage rates are too high, the Government subsidised tenantry lots purchase programme too slow-moving and the lands registration process too old-fashioned.Former Minister of Housing and Lands, Gline Clarke, made these charges in the House of Assembly, while urging Government to “modernise” all aspects of the housing sector.Clarke said Government needs to address the issue of banks offering mortgages at 4-5 per cent in Canada and the United States but raising the rate to 8-9 per cent in Barbados.He complained that these rates were “killing people” seeking to build or repair homes. “Barbadians are paying too much interest on mortgages,” he said.The opposition spokesman also charged that the process of modernising land registration, conveyancing and other elements of the housing sector came to an end in 2008, when the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was voted out of office.“Nobody is looking after registration today,” he said, complaining that people looking to buy/sell property had to have an ownership search going back 20 years done in the Land Registry Department.Developed countries had searches far shorter, he explained.Clarke charged that the conveyancing of land had become so problematic that in some cases lawyers had to be paid three times for the work.The St George North Member of Parliament also said that Government  seemed to have lost interest in the Tenantries Freehold Purchase Act, under which long-standing tenants can purchase their lots at a state-subsidised price.“Too many people have lost their land through the process and today a number of large landowners have now gone back on their word (to sell the land) because the Government seems as though they are not really committed to the tenantries programme anymore,” he added.“In my constituency, for example, many people have not been able to get the land at Cottage and Groves, and this is another debate.” Clarke spoke on a bill to amend the Value Added Tax Act to remove VAT from building materials on houses valued up to $400 000, an incentive for first time home-owners. Clarke said that Government needed to do much more to improve the housing sector, charging that building costs had risen by 20-25 per cent since 2008.He argued that Government was putting too much emphasis simply on building houses, even though homes being built by the National Housing Corporation (NHC) were too expensive for many Barbadians. (TY)

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