ISLAMABAD, June 15: The scandal of the alleged money transactions between Malik Riaz’s relatives and Arsalan Iftikhar, and the suo motu notice by the Supreme Court has left several buyers and investors of the Bahria Town project panicky. Any reflexive selling at this time, realtors told Dawn, would only accelerate the fall of property prices.
Dawn had learnt reliably that while earlier the office of Bahria Town at Phase Eight used to be jam-packed, few buyers could be seen hanging around these days. “The office used to be full of people who’d come to transfer plots and even though there are over 15 counters, everyone had to wait for an hour for their turn. But since the scandal broke out, the office remains almost vacant,” a source said.
When this reporter visited the office, a few visitors were present, mostly those who had come for transfers.
One of them was Tariq Mehmood, a property dealer, who this reporter briefly chatted with. “This scandal has badly affected the trading of plots in Bahria Town. Within 24 hours of suo motu notice of the Supreme Court, a number of people contacted me as they wanted to sell their plots but I advised against it as that will only negatively affect the prices of the plots,” he said.
“I feel that after some time, people will forget it and then once again the sale and purchase will resume. Malik Riaz should not have done all that he has done, because his blunder will spoil our business,” he said hopefully.
Mohammad Naeem, another visitor at the office, was looking for other options to save his investment: “I have paid the down-payment, so now if I cancel the agreement, the seller will not return the money. So I have decided to get the plot transferred and after that I will not sell it till the price increases.”
An official of Bahria Town on the condition of anonymity admitted that a significant number of plot owners have inquired about a possible refund of their payments. “We have told them that they can sell their plots in the open market, but Bahria Town itself does not have a refund policy.”
Even investors seem to be in a limbo about the future plan of action. Malik Irfan, owner of Irfan Arcade in Bahria Town, said that he had completed the building but it seemed that people will be hesitant in investing money and buying it.
“If the issue remains, it will only increase my problems as I had taken a loan for the construction of the building. It will also affect other property as most of the housing societies are dependent on Bahria Town and its management,” he complained.
Tariq Mehmood revealed that at the moment the management of Bahria Town has possession of phase one to phase eight and allottees of plots of those areas will not suffer. “But according to inside information, Malik Riaz has purchased land right up to Kalar Kahar, on Chakwal Road and toward Murree, and he might face resistance because now people will not leave their land. On the other hand, a politician of Rawalpindi will also support them,” he opined.
This was seconded by Sohail Sheikh, a resident of Islamabad, who had come to visit the area: “Although the area is beautiful and I would like to buy a plot here, but I have decided to wait for a while because of the recent scandal. It is very much possible that the prices of the plots would fall, and I will then buy a plot.”
When Dawn spoke to Haider Shigry, information officer of Bahria Town who has been deputed in the marketing office, he claimed that the issue in the court has no bearing on the sale and purchase of real estate in the project.
“We have sold most of the plots in Bahria Greens and it has been decided that the last date of sale will not be extended. In Pakistan, people have a short memory and they will normalise soon,” he said.