The country’s yearly weddings – nearly 900,000 – are also a major driver of demand, as newly married couples look to move into their own homes and invest in property for the future, according to SODIC’s Sherif.
He estimates that Egypt’s housing gap – long a major issue in the country – is nearing 3m units. "Private developers collectively provide about 20,000 units per year, but this barely scratches the surface of the housing gap,” Sherif added.
According to forecasts from Colliers, a real estate services company, an extra 90,000 to 100,000 units will be needed per year through to 2020 to meet demand, which is well above the annual average of 45,000 units that have come on-line in recent years.
Major developers continue to focus on more affluent segments of the population, which are seen as yielding higher profits, rather than the poor and low-middle income groups, for whom the current housing shortage is most pressing.
The majority of Cairenes, or about 52%, are able to afford units in the $26,000-to-$35,000 range, but there is little to no supply offered by the private sector at this price point, according to a 2016 report on Cairo’s real estate market by Colliers.
The most affordable private developments, such as a 130-sq-metre unit in 6th of October City, tend to sell in the $60,000-to-$65,000 range.
The government is looking to address the shortfall in affordable housing partly through partnerships with the private sector.
In mid-May local press reported that the MoH was in talks with Kuwaiti investment company Al Juwisry to develop a social housing project on a 14,000-sq-metre plot in 6th of October City, as part of a larger $800m investment programme.
Many private sector developers, however, will likely continue to target the higher end of the market, underscoring the importance of government-led efforts to incentivise social housing.