Foreign individuals and companies operating in Bangladesh have injected approximately Tk 321 crore into the country’s real estate market by purchasing 216 residential flats in 2022. This infusion of funds has provided much-needed support to the nation’s foreign currency reserves, which have been under strain.
Over the past decade, between 2013 and 2022, a total of 2,486 such property transactions were recorded, amounting to a substantial sum of Tk 2,542 crore. This trend has been warmly welcomed by the real estate sector as a noteworthy contributor to its expansion.
The President of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB), Alamgir Shamsul Alamin, highlighted that foreign entities are required to make their purchases in dollars, in line with regulations. This stipulation directly contributes to the growth of the real estate sector and the broader economy.
According to Shihab Ahmed, Senior General Manager of Shanta Holdings, expatriates who anticipate longer stays in Bangladesh for work or business purposes are the primary buyers of these residential flats. In addition, multinational corporations seek such units to accommodate their expatriate workforce.
Notably, the preferences of foreign buyers tend to lean toward mid-range apartments rather than luxury residences. This choice is motivated by the desire for easy resale when their time in the country comes to an end. However, a few multinational companies have also acquired luxury apartments.
The Directorate of Registration’s unofficial data reveals that out of the 2,486 units sold over the past decade, 1,304 were purchased by foreign individuals, while 1,182 were acquired by companies. In the preceding year, 216 units were sold to foreigners, with 104 of them situated in prominent residential areas of the capital such as Gulshan, Banani, Badda, Uttara, and Bashundhara. The remaining units are scattered across various areas of the capital and different economic zones of the nation.
Chinese nationals and companies secured 54 flats, Indians 47, Koreans 17, Russians 11, Japanese 8, Emiratis 13, and Saudis 9. The remainder was purchased by citizens and companies from 12 other countries.
An illustrative instance from February 2019 highlights that two Chinese nationals, employed by a Chinese company in Bangladesh with contracts until 2030, purchased flats in North Badda. This transaction underwent proper legal processes, involving permissions from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) and registration.
The purchase of properties by foreign individuals in Bangladesh is restricted to flats alone, as per regulations established in 1996. These individuals must also seek permissions from various regulatory bodies including Bida, Bangladesh Bank, the National Board of Revenue, and the Directorate of Registration. On the other hand, foreign companies that obtain permission to operate within Bangladesh are entitled to property ownership, including land and houses, under their company’s name. This recognition is aligned with the company’s legal standing within the nation.
Alamgir Shamsul Alamin emphasized that the approval process through Bida and registration is intricate, demanding an array of documents such as proof of income, sources of funding, and nominees. He suggested that streamlining these procedures would attract more foreign investment in Bangladesh’s real estate sector, citing other countries where foreign property ownership is facilitated, leading to substantial revenue generation and GDP contribution.