28 Sep 2018 - Liberia (Monrovia)

James Whitmee

I am in Monrovia in Liberia looking at the housing market. I have been focusing on the areas of Sinkor and Mamba Point, although today I took a detour and went out to Bushrod Island to see the Freeport.

The real estate market has been severely knocked off course because of a combination of:

  • UN peacekeeping force leaving the country
  • Low iron-ore prices
  • Oil companies retracting because of the high cost of extraction from the off-shore fields
  • Liberia was the hardest hit country during the West Africa Ebola outbreak

There are also protests this week in Monrovia because a consignment of newly printed currency representing 5% of GDP has gone missing en route for delivery to the Central Bank.

In general, the quality of buildings is not good, and there is a real problem with damp in this city. Foreign owners (which comprise the bulk of the high-end market) tend to cut corners because they have to try to get their return as quickly as possible.

What drives this is partially market uncertainty, but also because foreigners are not permitted to own land, and have to lease. These leases are for a finite period, non-renewable and there is no compensation payable by the land owner to the lessee for any building on the land once the lease expires.

Prices are also high (around USD 3,000 /month for a good 2-bed apartment) driven also by a 10% rent tax and very high fuel costs (many buildings run all the time off generators).

Monrovia

TM-Mall at Mamba Point by Chinese/Liberian TSMO Investment Corp (first mall and first movie theatre - Silverbird)

Tags: Liberia