The cash registers ringed up sales of low-cost apartments worth nearly Tk 1,000 crore at the fair organised by Real Estate Housing Association of Bangladesh.
The five-day REHAB Vision Fair 2010 concluded yesterday on a cheery note for both participants and middle-income groups, said organisers.
Most participants felt the low-cost apartments could be an effective solution to reviving the slowed real estate market.
REHAB officials said most bookings were charted for the flats ranging between 950 and 1,500 square feet.
"This is the right time to focus to building low-cost apartments along with luxury ones," said MA Baten Khan, managing director of Building Designs and Developments Ltd (BDDL).
"Now, the trend is that the middle income groups want a toehold in the city within their limited earnings. So they tend to go for low-cost apartments that are a bit smaller yet affordable," he said.
He said the high apartment prices slowed the rapid growth of the sector. "When the prices of land and building materials are increasing fast, we have few options but to go for developing low-cost products to overcome the situation."
Khan suggested the government reinstate housing loans at low interest rates to facilitate accommodation for the middle and low-income groups.
BDDL, a top real estate company, received 25 spot bookings for both land and flats at the fair. The company had offered a 25 percent cash back offer on booking money for spot orders.
Mohammad Farhaduzzaman, marketing manager of Eastern Housing Ltd, the oldest real estate company, also said price escalation slowed flat sales in Dhaka.
"Nevertheless, we did well at the fair and received satisfactory sales. But the thing is that the growth in sales turnover has increased amid decline in sales quantity," he said.
Eastern Housing received nearly 20 bookings for high-end apartments and commercials spaces within a price range between Tk 1 crore and Tk 8 crore.
Saiful Islam, marketing manager of Concord Engineers and Construction Ltd, was happy with the bookings his company received. He said they received most orders in the last two days.
"We received 35 spot bookings worth Tk 60 crore at the fair, of which 30 were for apartments and the rest for commercial space," he said, adding that most sales were made in old Dhaka and Mirpur.
Navana Real Estate Ltd received 15 bookings at the fair in Agargaon, said Shariful Islam Raheed, sales manager of the company.
He said developers are planning most new projects by targeting the middle class and offering affordable instalments to attract more clients.
Aminul Islam Tareq, senior marketing executive of Rupayan Housing Estate Ltd, said the company received a huge response from potential customers.
"The response was more than expected, thanks to our new projects in Uttara and Mirpur," he said, adding that Rupayan recently started building smaller apartments to attract customers who cannot afford to pay more than Tk 30 lakh.In addition, REHAB officials urged the government to take measures to control soaring construction costs and registration fees to help overcome the fall in sales.
"Land price in the central areas of Dhaka are so high that it is often hard to keep the prices at low levels. If the government builds proper infrastructure like highways and a good public transport system, developers will start building lower-cost housing projects in the suburban areas," said Nasrul Hamid, president of REHAB.
REHAB is expected to earn Tk 6 crore from ticket sales at the fair, he said.
Despite the slump in real estate, there was little evidence of a lack of enthusiasm among attendees at the jam-packed fair.
However, many visitors said the fair was not timed well as Eid is just around the bend and many parents decided to stay back because their children's annual exams are fast approaching.
A total of 306 companies, including two financial institutions BRAC Bank and MIDAS Financing Ltd -- participated.